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Accident description
Last updated: 16 October 2017
Status:Final
Date:Sunday 20 January 2002
Time:07:15
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC93 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32
Operator:AirTran Airways
Registration: N837AT
C/n / msn: 45774/336
First flight: 1968
Total airframe hrs:67712
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 5
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 61
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 66
Airplane damage: Substantial
Airplane fate: Repaired
Location:Washington-Dulles International Airport, DC (IAD) (   United States of America)
Phase: Pushback / towing (PBT)
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Washington-Dulles International Airport, DC (IAD/KIAD), United States of America
Destination airport:Atlanta-William B. Hartsfield International Airport, GA (ATL/KATL), United States of America
Flightnumber:67
Narrative:
A McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32, N837AT, operated by Air Tran Airways as flight 67, was substantially damaged during pushback at Washington-Dulles International Airport, Virginia. There were no injuries.
The flight was destined for Atlanta, Georgia. According to the captain, the ramp was covered with snow and ice, and their gate position required a pushback with a nose swing of about 120 degrees. The airplane had an inoperative APU, and he elected to start both engines at the gate prior to pushback because a single engine crossbleed start would require an N1 of 80 percent on the operative engine. After both engines were started, the pushback was initiated. As the tug neared a 90 degree position to the right side of the nose of the airplane, it started to move forward, and then stopped when it struck the tug, after which the captain set the brakes. The captain added that he had not applied the brakes until after the airplane came to rest.
The tug driver reported that he had already pushed back two airplanes that morning with no problems, and that the initial part of the push was without incident. As the airplane entered an area where the ramp was icy, he turned the nose of the airplane to the west. The nosewheels on the airplane started slipping, and he was unable to communicate this to the cockpit crew. He stopped the tug and the airplane slid into the tug.
Damage to the airplane consisted of a hole in the right side of the fuselage, located about 3 feet below the bottom of the forward, right side cabin door, and about 4 feet behind the trailing edge of the door. Internally, there was damage to the longerons.

Probable Cause:

The lack of direction from the operator on how to perform pushbacks on an icy ramp, which led to the tug driver positioning the tug at an angle to the nose of the airplane that allowed the airplane to move forward and strike the tug. Factors were the inadequate visual lookout by the walker wearing the headset, and the icy ramp.

Accident investigation:
cover
Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 3 months
Accident number: NYC02LA056
Download report: Summary report

Classification:

Sources:
» NTSB


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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 Washington-Dulles International Airport, DC to Atlanta-William B. Hartsfield International Airport, GA as the crow flies is 853 km (533 miles).

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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