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Accident Report Detail

Ground Spoiler Activation in Flight/Hard Landing, Valujet Airlines Flight 558 Douglas DC-9-32, N922VV

Executive Summary

About 1620 central standard time, on January 7, 1996, a Douglas Aircraft Company DC-9-32, N922VV, operated by ValuJet Airlines, Inc., as flight 558, touched down hard in the approach light area short of runway 2R at the Nashville International Airport in Nashville, Tennessee. Flight 558 was operating under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121, as a scheduled, domestic passenger flight from Atlanta, Georgia, to Nashville. The flight departed the William B. Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport at approximately 1540, with five crewmembers and 88 passengers on board. The flight attendant who occupied the rear cabin jumpseat and four passengers reported minor injuries; no injuries were reported by the remaining 88 occupants. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the tail section, nosegear, aft fuselage, flaps, slats, and both engines. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on an instrument flight rules flight plan.

The safety issues discussed in this report include the adequacy of ValuJet’s operations and maintenance manuals, specifically winter operations nosegear shock strut servicing procedures; the adequacy of ValuJet’s pilot training/crew resource management training programs; flightcrew actions/decisionmaking; the role of communications (flightcrew/flight attendants/operations/dispatch/air traffic control); ValuJet’s flightcrew pay schedule; Federal Aviation Administration oversight of ValuJet; and the adequacy of cockpit voice recorder duration and procedures.

Probable Cause

​The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the flightcrew’s improper procedures and actions (failing to contact system operations/dispatch, failing to use all available aircraft and company manuals, and prematurely resetting the ground control relay circuit breakers) in response to an in-flight abnormality, which resulted in the inadvertent in-flight activation of the ground spoilers during the final approach to landing and the airplane’s subsequent increased descent rate and excessively hard ground impact in the runway approach light area.

Contributing factors in the accident were ValuJet’s failure to incorporate cold weather nosegear servicing procedures in its operations and maintenance manuals, the incomplete procedural guidance contained in the ValuJet quick reference handbook, and the flightcrew’s inadequate knowledge and understanding of the aircraft systems.

Accident Location: Nashville , TN    
Accident Date: 1/7/1996
Accident ID: MIA96FA059

Date Adopted: 12/11/1996
NTSB Number: AAR-96-07
NTIS Number: PB96-910407

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