Narrative:The Douglas Globemaster operated on a Military Air Transport Service (MATS) flight from Korea to Japan. Flight MATS 503, departed Seoul-Kimpo (SEL) approx 18:00. Takeoff was made on runway 32. The aircraft lost a blade off engine nr. 3 just after wheels were started up. The blade penetrated the fuselage, cutting both aileron and rudder cables and killing four passengers. Before engine nr. 3 could be feathered another blade separated from engine nr. 3, knocking out engine nr. 4. With full power on engine nr. 1 and engine nr. 2 the aircraft wanted to roll over to starboard. Aircraft Cmdr Cartwright reduced power on both running engines to prevent a wing-over. With no directional control at 100 feet AGL and the DMZ just two miles ahead, a mud bar in the Han River was the only option to save crew and passengers, for if they had crossed the DMZ, North Korea would have shot down aircraft.
The top passenger deck collapsed on impact, crushing some passengers and injuring others. Incoming tide from the Han River Estuary reduced the mud bar. Survivors had to cling to ice flows in the river. The US Army 1st Helicopter Amb Company evacuated 128 survivors to 121st Army Evacuation Hospital or to a levee on the west side of Han River.
» E-mail Bob McCreary, 22-7-2009
This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Networkĺs opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.