Narrative:Northwest Airlines flight 51 was cleared for takeoff on runway 29L. About the same time, Northwest Airlines flight 65, also a DC-10, was cleared to cross runway 29L at taxiway C, 6,000 feet from the approach end of the runway and 4,500 feet from the ATC tower. The controllers who issued the clearances did not recognize the hazardous situation in time to take preventive action. NW51 was in its takeoff roll when its captain saw NW65 crossing runway 29L. The captain of NW51 averted a collision by rotating to a takeoff attitude at a lower than normal rotation speed, lifting off prematurely, and overflying NW65. The captain of NW51 estimated that his airplane cleared NW65 by 50 to 75 feet vertically. A total of 501 persons were aboard the two airplanes. Thirteen other air carrier airplanes were operating within 500 feet of the intersection of runway 29L and taxiway C at the time of the incident.
The Safety Board concluded that the CFCF did not overtly pressure the tower to accept more traffic than it could safely handle. However, the Board believes that the AS [Area Supervisor] and the LC [local controller]/CIC [controller-in-charge]/supervisor made poor decisions in (1) accepting the high volume of traffic in poor airport conditions, (2) not retaining controllers to help relieve the evening shift controllers during the heavy traffic period, (3) closing out the CC [cab coordinator] position during heavy traffic, (4) not reevaluating arrival rates and staffing requirements as traffic volume and complexity increased, and (5) failing to request that a critical taxiway be cleared of snow.
Follow-up / safety actions
Because of the Minneapolis incident and the frequency and the potential severity of similar incidents, in July 1985 the Safety Board initiated a special investigation of runway incursion incidents and accidents. The purpose of the special investigation was to investigate selected runway incursions to determine their underlying causes and to recommend appropriate remedial actions.
The report, NTSB/SIR-86/01 was released in May 1986.
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 Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, MN to Seattle/Tacoma International Airport, WA as the crow flies is 2229 km (1393 miles).
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.