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Accident description
Last updated: 20 October 2017
Status:Final
Date:Tuesday 1 March 1994
Time:13:38
Type:Silhouette image of generic B742 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing 747-251B
Operator:Northwest Airlines
Registration: N637US
C/n / msn: 23548/644
First flight: 1986-05-10 (7 years 10 months)
Total airframe hrs:31798
Engines: 4 Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7R4G2
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 18
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 227
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 245
Airplane damage: Substantial
Airplane fate: Repaired
Location:Tokyo-Narita Airport (NRT) (   Japan)
Phase: Landing (LDG)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Hong Kong-Kai Tak International Airport (HKG/VHHH), Hong Kong
Destination airport:Tokyo-Narita Airport (NRT/RJAA), Japan
Flightnumber: 18
Narrative:
Northwest Airlines Flight 18 had departed from Hong Kong for a flight to New York-JFK with an intermediate stop at Tokyo-Narita, Japan. The flight, touchdown, and initial landing rollout at Narita, were routine. Engine thrust reversing was normal on all four engines until the flight crew moved the engine power levers out of reverse thrust at about 90 knots. During the rollout, the No. 1 engine and pylon rotated downward about the midspar pylon-to-wing fittings into a position in which the lower forward part of the engine nose cowl contacted the runway. The airplane was subsequently stopped on a taxiway, with the front of the No. 1 engine still contacting the ground. The lower forward engine nose cowl had been ground away as it slid along the runway. A fire near the No. 1 engine was rapidly extinguished by local fire fighters, and all passengers remained aboard. They were subsequently deplaned via portable boarding stairs about 30 minutes after the airplane was brought to a stop. There were no injuries.
Maintenance and inspection personnel who worked on the airplane were not adequately trained and qualified to perform the required maintenance and inspection functions. In addition, the work environment for the heavy maintenance of the airplane was inadequate and contributed to an effort producing situation for the workers.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "When C check of the aircraft was conducted, the retainer for the diagonal brace aft fuse pin of No.1 nacelle strut was removed and the aircraft was returned to service without reinstalling the retainer. In the course of the flights after this, the fuse pin moved, disconnecting the diagonal brace at the aft joint.
It is estimated that when the thrust reverser was deployed during the landing roll under such circumstances, the forward fuse pin of the upper link was fractured due to a load in excess of the design rupture strength, dangling the forward portion of No.1 engine and a fire on leaked oil and fuel broke out in the aft portion of the nacelle strut."

Classification:
Engine separation

Sources:
» NTSB/SIR-94/02


Follow-up / safety actions
The NTSB made several recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration concerning human engineering principles in maintenance operations, and the critical assessment of maintenance work environments. Recommendations were made to Northwest Airlines concerning the same subjects.

NTSB issued 9 Safety Recommendations

Show all AD's and Safety Recommendations

Photos

photo of Boeing 747-251B N637US
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Map
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Hong Kong-Kai Tak International Airport to Tokyo-Narita Airport as the crow flies is 2920 km (1825 miles).
Accident location: Exact; deduced from official accident report.

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