ASN Aircraft accident McDonnell Douglas MD-11F N581FE Subic Bay International Airport (SFS)
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Status:Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Date:Sunday 17 October 1999
Type:Silhouette image of generic MD11 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
McDonnell Douglas MD-11F
Registration: N581FE
MSN: 48419/450
First flight: 1990
Total airframe hrs:30278
Engines: 3 General Electric CF6-80C2D1F
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 2
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 0
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 2
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Aircraft fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Subic Bay International Airport (SFS) (   Philippines)
Crash site elevation: 20 m (66 feet) amsl
Phase: Landing (LDG)
Departure airport:Shanghai-Hongqiao Airport (SHA/ZSSS), China
Destination airport:Subic Bay International Airport (SFS/RPLB), Philippines
Flightnumber: 87
FedEx flight 87 departed Shanghai-Hongqiao Airport, China, on a cargo flight to Subic Bay International Airport, Philippines.
En route at FL370, about 43 minutes before landing, the MD-11 encountered moderate turbulence. Right at that time there was an airspeed 'miscompare' between the airspeed indicators of the captain and first officer. The difference increased to 12 knots in about 90 seconds, causing the autopilot to disconnect.
The difference increased to about 45 knots as the airplane descended to sea level but at no point did the crew check the standby airspeed indicator. The FCOM procedures for 'Lost, Suspect or Erratic' airspeed were also not performed.
As the crew entered the approach environment (i.e., 5,000 feet and flaps 15) they identified that the problems might have been caused by an ADC malfunction. Once the first officer switched her instruments to the captain’s ADC, the alerts extinguished and the autopilot and autothrottles became available. It is likely at this point the crew felt the problems had been resolved and that it was appropriate to commence the approach.
As the airplane descended below 500 feet, cues and warnings were ignored by the flight crew that strongly suggested the approach could not be completed within acceptable parameters (e.g., multiple GPWS sink rate and pull up warnings, visual ales from the PAPI that the aircraft was high/long, and visual cues from the runway that the aircraft would land past the touchdown zone).
The airplane touched down but could not be stopped on the remaining runway. It overran the end of runway 07, impacted an instrument landing system (ILS) antenna site, and continued off a ledge that dropped about 30 feet onto a road located on the shoreline of the airport. The airplane then entered the water and came to rest.
The crew managed to evacuate the aircraft with slight injuries and were eventually rescued.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The failure of the flight crew to properly address an erroneous airspeed indication during descent and landing, their failure to verity and select the correct airspeed by checking the standby airspeed indicator, and their failure to execute a missed approach. These failures led to an excessive approach and landing speed that resulted in a runway overshoot. Contributing factors to the accident were clogged pitot tube drain holes, the MD-11's insufficient alerting system for airspeed anomalies, and the failure of the SEL ELEV FEEL MAN and SEL FLAP LIM OVR D checklists to refer the crew to the standby airspeed indicator."

Accident investigation:

Investigating agency: AAIB Philippines
Status: Investigation completed
Accident number: final report
Download report: Final report

Pitot head issues
Runway excursion

Follow-up / safety actions
As a result of the findings, Boeing recommended DC-10 and MD-11 operators to inspect the water drain holes on the pitot probes every 650 hours to ensure that they are not blocked.


photo of MD-11F-N581FE
accident date: 17-10-1999
type: McDonnell Douglas MD-11F
registration: N581FE
photo of MD-11F-N581FE
accident date: 17-10-1999
type: McDonnell Douglas MD-11F
registration: N581FE

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 Shanghai-Hongqiao Airport to Subic Bay International Airport as the crow flies is 1815 km (1135 miles).

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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