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NTSB DETERMINES PROBABLE CAUSE OF EVACUATION SLIDE INFLATION INCIDENT ABOARD AIRCRAFT CARRYING THEN SENATOR OBAMA



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                      NTSB PRESS RELEASE

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National Transportation Safety Board

Washington, DC 20594

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 21, 2009

SB-09-52

 

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NTSB DETERMINES PROBABLE CAUSE OF EVACUATION SLIDE INFLATION

INCIDENT ABOARD AIRCRAFT CARRYING THEN SENATOR OBAMA

 

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The National Transportation Safety Board has determined that

the incident last year involving an uncommanded pitch-up

aboard an aircraft occurred as a result of the inadvertent

partial inflation of the evacuation slide and subsequent

binding of the elevator control cables. Contributing to this

incident was the evacuation slide cover failing to be

secured to the floor fittings on the walkway.

 

At 8:45 a.m. (CDT) on July 7, 2008, a McDonnell Douglas MD-

81, carrying then Senator Barack Obama, experienced a

tailcone evacuation slide inflation shortly after takeoff.

The aircraft was operated by Midwest Airlines as Flight

#8663 and took off from Chicago, Illinois for Charlotte,

North Carolina. According to post-incident flight crew

statements, during the initial climb, the airplane's pitch

increased without a corresponding flight control input and

exceeded normal limits before the captain was able to regain

control. Once under control, the airplane was diverted to

Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and made an

uneventful landing at about 9:00 a.m. (CDT). None of the 2

flight crewmembers, 4 flight attendants, 2 airline

representatives, or 43 passengers were injured.

 

Post-incident inspection of the airplane indicated that the

tailcone evacuation slide had inflated inside the tail area

of the airplane as it had lifted off; this resulted in the

reported pitch control restriction. The airplane received

minor damage to the evacuation slide, the walkway, and a set

of elevator cables in the tailcone.

 

Shortly after the incident, the carrier released a

maintenance alert bulletin describing the incident and

initial investigation findings, as well as a revision to the

service check agenda, which added specific instructions for

maintenance personnel for verifying proper slide

installation. Additionally, the aircraft manufacturer has

agreed to publish a Fleet Digest article on the incident to

notify other carriers of the findings.

 

The probable cause report is available on the NTSB's website

at

http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?ev_id=20080808X01189&key=

1

 

A photograph of the deployed slide may be found here:

http://www.ntsb.gov/Pressrel/2008/images/Deployed_slide.jpg

 

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NTSB Media Contact: Bridget Serchak

202-314-6100

Bridget.serchak@xxxxxxxx

 

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