It was a cold and icy night at New
York's LaGuardia Airport March 23, 1992. USAir flight 405 was
preparing to depart for Cleveland on continuing service from
Florida. The Fokker 28, with 51 people aboard, pushed back from the
gate and was cleared for takeoff just before 9:30pm. The aircraft
accelerated normally down the runway and began it's rotation. The
plane lifted off, but it promptly stalled and dropped back to the
ground. It then slid into the waters of Flushing Bay, breaking up
and exploding into flames. Crews were quick to get the fires out,
but 27 people were killed in the submerged wreckage.
......405 had been de-iced twice while sitting at the gate, but
thirty-five minutes elapsed between the final de-icing and takeoff.
Type I de-icing fluid has a safe hold-over time of only 11 minutes,
which allowed ice to accumulate on the wings. USAir's policy at the
time did not require the crew to make an exterior inspection of the
aircraft. The Fokker 28 is a non-slatted aircraft. In the past,
non-slatted aircraft have had a significantly higher number of
ice-related accidents than slatted aircraft.
Ice accumulation on the top of the wings spoils
the lift which generally begins at the leading edge of the airfoil.
The lack of slats decreases further the lift-producing capability of
the wing. The ice problem was compounded by errors by the flight
crew. The recovery of the CVR and FDR showed that the First Officer
called out Vr 11kts early and the aircraft was rotated approximately
5kts early. Though the First Officer survived the accident, there
was no clue given as to why the calls were made incorrectly.