ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 727-235 N4744 Escambia Bay, FL
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Status:Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Date:Monday 8 May 1978
Type:Silhouette image of generic B722 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing 727-235
Operator:National Airlines
Registration: N4744
MSN: 19464/553
First flight: 1968-03-20 (10 years 2 months)
Total airframe hrs:26720
Engines: 3 Pratt & Whitney JT8D-7B
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 6
Passengers:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 52
Total:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 58
Aircraft damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:Escambia Bay, FL (   United States of America)
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Mobile Municipal Airport, AL (MOB/KMOB), United States of America
Destination airport:Pensacola Regional Airport, FL (PNS/KPNS), United States of America
Flightnumber: 193
Flight 193 operated as a scheduled passenger from Miami to Pensacola, FL, with en route stops at Melbourne and Tampa, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Mobile. About 21:02 CDT the flight departed Mobile on an IFR flight plan to Pensacola and climbed to the cruising altitude of 7,000 feet. At 21:09, the crew were told that they would be vectored for an airport surveillance radar (ASR) approach to runway 25. At 21:13, the radar controller told National 193 that it was 11 nm NW of the airport and cleared it to descend and maintain 1700 feet. At 21:17 flaps were selected at 15deg and two minutes later the flight was cleared to descend to 1500 feet and shortly after that further down to the MDA (480 feet). As the aircraft rolled out on the final approach heading, the captain called for the landing gear and the landing final checklist. At 21:20:15, the ground proximity warning system (GPWS) whooper warning continued for nine seconds until the first officer silenced the warning. Nine seconds later the 727 hit the water with gear down and flaps at 25deg. It came to rest in about 12 feet of water. The weather at the time of the accident was 400 feet overcast, 4 miles visibility in fog and haze, wind 190deg/7 kts.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The flightcrew's unprofessionally conducted nonprecision instrument approach, in that the captain and the crew failed to monitor the descent rate and altitude, and the first officer failed to provide the captain with required altitude and approach performance callouts. The captain and first officer did not check or utilize all instruments available for altitude awareness and, therefore, did not configure the aircraft properly and in a timely manner for the approach. The captain failed to comply with the company's GPWS flightcrew response procedures in a timely manner after the warning began. The flight engineer turned off the GPWS warning 9 seconds after it began without the captain' s knowledge or consent. Contributing to the accident was the radar controller's failure to provide advance notice of the start-descent point which accelerated the pace of the crew's cockpit activities after the passage of the final approach fix."

Accident investigation:

Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 185 days (6 months)
Accident number: NTSB/AAR-78-13
Download report: Final report

Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Water

» Historic photos of 1978 plane crash in Escambia Bay where a Pensacola man rescued 55 (, 27 March 2021)
» NTSB AAR-78-13

Follow-up / safety actions

NTSB issued 11 Safety Recommendations

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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 Mobile Municipal Airport, AL to Pensacola Regional Airport, FL as the crow flies is 103 km (65 miles).
Accident location: Exact; as reported in the official accident report.

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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Boeing 727

  • 1832 built
  • 29th loss
  • 25th fatal accident
  • 21st worst accident (at the time)
  • 55th worst accident (currently)
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