Accident description
Last updated: 23 November 2014
Status:Final
Date:Monday 21 January 1985
Time:01:04
Type:Lockheed L-188A Electra
Operator:Galaxy Airlines
Registration: N5532
C/n / msn: 1121
First flight: 1960
Total airframe hrs:34148
Cycles:33285
Engines: 4 Allison 501-D13
Crew:Fatalities: 6 / Occupants: 6
Passengers:Fatalities: 64 / Occupants: 65
Total:Fatalities: 70 / Occupants: 71
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:3 km (1.9 mls) SE of Reno/Tahoe International Airport, NV (RNO) (   United States of America) show on map
Phase: Initial climb (ICL)
Nature:Domestic Non Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Reno/Tahoe International Airport, NV (RNO/KRNO), United States of America
Destination airport:Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, MN (MSP/KMSP), United States of America
Flightnumber: 203
Narrative:
The ill-fated flight crew were scheduled to fly Lockheed Electra N5532 from Seattle (SEA) to Oakland (as Flight 201), from Oakland to Reno (RNO) as Flight 202, from Reno (RNO) to Minneapolis (MSP) as Flight 203 and finally returning to Seattle using flight number 204.
Scheduled departure time for Flight 201 had been 15:30, but had been delayed until about 20:00. The airplane departed Seattle at 20:19 on a ferry flight to Oakland, where it arrived at 22:25. Sixty-five passengers boarded the plane for the flight to Reno. At 00:21, while the airplane was being serviced, the crew requested an IFR clearance to Minneapolis. Following ground servicing the ground handler supervisor signalled to the crew that they could commence engine starting. However, after engines one and four were started, he noticed that the other ground handler was unable to disconnect the air start
hose. It was stretched taut from the power cart to the airplane’s air start access panel, located on the underside of the right wing leading edge, close to the fillet area. He gave the flightcrew an emergency stop signal, left his position, and disconnected the hose. None of the two ground crewmembers remembered closing the air start access door. At approximately 00:59 the first officer requested taxi instructions Reno tower almost immediately thereafter cleared Galaxy 203 to taxi to runway 16R. The aircraft taxied to the runway and at 01:01:32 the first officer requested takeoff clearance. Four seconds later Galaxy 203 was given clearance to take off from runway 16R. While accellerating through V1 speed, a "thunking" type sound was heard, followed by another one just after V2. Heavy airframe vibration started after liftoff. The captain reacted to the airplane’s vibration by reducing power significantly in all four engines, indicating that he believed the vibration was caused by the powerplants or propellers. The airplane reached an altitude of about 200-250 feet and started a right hand turn to return to the airport. The Electra then entered an aerodynamic stall buffet because of insufficient engine power to maintain flight. The Electra crashed into a field, bounced, slid into some mobile homes and burst into flames. Of the three persons who survived the initial impact, one died on January 29, while the second died on February 4. The sole survivor, a 17-year-old male, was thrown clear of the airplane onto the adjacent highway.


PROBABLE CAUSE: "The captain's failure to control and the co-pilot's failure to monitor the flight path and airspeed of the aircraft. This breakdown in crew coordination followed the onset of unexpected vibration shortly after takeoff. Contributing to the accident was the failure of ground handlers to properly close an air start access door, which led to the vibration."

Classification:
Loss of control

Sources:
» ICAO Adrep Summary 4/88 (#26)
» NTSB Safety Recommendations A-86-14 through -19
» NTSB/AAR-86/01

Official accident investigation report
investigating agency: National Transport Safety Bureau (NTSB) - United States of America
report status: Final
report number: NTSB/AAR-86-01
report released:04-FEB-1986
duration of investigation:379 days (1 year )
download report: Galaxy Airlines, Inc., Lockheed Electra-L-188C, N5532, Reno, Nevada, January 21, 1985. (NTSB/AAR-86-01)

Follow-up / safety actions

NTSB issued 6 Safety Recommendations

Show all AD's and Safety Recommendations

Photos

photo of
photo of Lockheed L-188A Electra N5532
N5532 was leased by Galaxy, August 1983
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Map
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 Reno/Tahoe International Airport, NV to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, MN as the crow flies is 2241 km (1401 miles).

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Lockheed L-188

  • 39th loss
  • 222 built
  • 5th worst accident (at the time)
  • 6th worst accident (currently)
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 United States of America
  • 25th worst accident (at the time)
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