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Accident description
Last updated: 23 July 2017
Date:Saturday 23 June 1973
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC86 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
McDonnell Douglas DC-8-61CF
Registration: N8960T
C/n / msn: 45938/331
First flight: 1968
Total airframe hrs:21258
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 9
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 119
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 128
Airplane damage: Unknown
Location:New York-John F. Kennedy International Airport, NY (JFK) (   United States of America)
Phase: Landing (LDG)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Reykjavík-Keflavík International Airport (KEF/BIKF), Iceland
Destination airport:New York-John F. Kennedy International Airport, NY (JFK/KJFK), United States of America
Loftleidir Flight 509 originated in Stockholm and was destined for New York with intermediate stops in Oslo and Reykjavik. The flight departed Keflavik Airport at 22:14 EDT. The flight from Keflavik to the outer marker of the ILS for runway 31R at New York-JFK was routine. At 03:56 Flight 509 contacted the tower and was cleared to land on runway 31R; the wind was 200deg at 3 knots. The captain decided to arm the spoilers just before touchdown rather than just after the landing gear had been extended. The latter is called for in the before-landing checklist. Shortly after the call to arm the spoilers, the aircraft struck the runway, tail first, and in a nose-high attitude. Later, the captain stated that he had called for the spoilers to be armed at an altitude between 20 and 30 feet. After impact, all engines were shut down by means of fire shutoff levers; fire extinguishers were discharged.
The first officer stated that because he could not arm the spoilers with his left hand, he had to use both hands. He also stated that he might have pulled back on the activating lever which deployed the spoilers.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The first officer's inadvertent deployment of the ground spoilers in flight while he was attempting to arm the spoiler system. The captain's decision to delay arming of the spoilers until just before touchdown was a contributing factor, because the timing varied from normal procedures and required the crewmembers to act quickly, without time for corrective action."

» NTSB-AAR-73-20

Follow-up / safety actions
As a result of an accident near Toronto on July 5, 1970, involving an Air Canada DC-8, the Federal Aviation Administration issued Airworthiness Directive AD 70-25-02 cautioning pilots against in-flight operation of ground spoilers by requiring the installation of a warning placard in the cockpit and the insertion of an additional Operating Limitation in the Flight Manual.

Following this incident the NTSB issued safety recommendations A-73-111 and -112 on December 9, 1973. These recommended the FAA to 1) Require that a protective device be installed as a part of the activating lever mechanism of the ground spoiler system in DC-8 aircraft; and 2) Amend 14 CFR 25 (Airworthiness Standards) to require that ground deceleration devices which directly affect the lift generated by the wings be designed so that they cannot be inadvertently operated in flight.

Responding to recommendation A-73-111, the FAA issued another Airworthiness Directive (AD 74-04-02), a.o. regarding the installation of a spoiler handle lockout.
Regarding A-73-112, the FAA believed that FAR 25.671, 25.685, 25.697 and especially FAR 25.697(b) and 21.21(b) (2), as presently written, are adequate to ensure airworthy designs.

The NTSB closed the recommendation May 1974, filing it as "closed -- unacceptable action".


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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 Reykjavík-Keflavík International Airport to New York-John F. Kennedy International Airport, NY as the crow flies is 4131 km (2582 miles).

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