ASN Aircraft accident McDonnell Douglas MD-10-10F N364FE Memphis International Airport, TN (MEM)
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Status:Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Date:Thursday 18 December 2003
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC10 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
McDonnell Douglas MD-10-10F
Operator:FedEx Express
Registration: N364FE
MSN: 46600/4
First flight: 1971
Total airframe hrs:65375
Engines: 3 General Electric CF6-6D
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 2
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 5
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 7
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Aircraft fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Memphis International Airport, TN (MEM) (   United States of America)
Crash site elevation: 104 m (341 feet) amsl
Phase: Landing (LDG)
Departure airport:Oakland International Airport, CA (OAK/KOAK), United States of America
Destination airport:Memphis International Airport, TN (MEM/KMEM), United States of America
Flightnumber: 647
FedEx flight 647 departed Oakland at 06:32 PST for a cargo flight to Memphis. The first officer was the pilot flying on that leg. The captain of the flight was a company check airman who was conducting a multi-leg line check for the first officer. The flight was routine until the approach to Memphis.
At 12:06 the captain contacted Memphis Approach. He was told to expect an approach to runway 36L. After listening out the ATIS, the captain advised the first officer that the winds were out of "three twenty at sixteen gusts to twenty two. Ten miles [visibility]. It's still saying wind shear."
At 12:15 Memphis Approach informed the flight that they should expect to land on runway 36R instead of 36L, as previously instructed. Six minutes later the captain radioed that they had the airport in sight. The controller cleared them for a visual approach and instructed the captain to contact Memphis Tower. The tower controller stated: "FedEx six forty seven heavy, Memphis tower, number two following a heavy Airbus two mile final caution wake turbulence runway three six right. Gain and loss of ten [knots] short final runway three six right, cleared to land."
The airplane was configured for landing and the crew discussed adding 4 knots to the Vref speed.
A single tailwind shear alert sounded about 12:23:52. Moments later the airplane descended through 1000 feet. The captain confirmed the approach was stable and the approach to land was continued.
During the 20 seconds before touchdown, the airplane's descent rate was 12.5 feet per second (fps) with +/- 2.5-fps oscillations. At 12:25:52, the airplane's left main landing gear touched down at a rate of about 12.5 fps; about 0.25 second later, the right main landing gear touched down at a rate of about 14.5 fps. The MD-10 landing gear is designed to be capable of absorbing energy that is equivalent to a maximum airplane descent rate of 12 fps.
The excessive vertical and lateral forces on the right main landing gear during the landing exceeded those design limits and resulted in the fracture of the outer cylinder and the collapse of the right main landing gear. The airplane began to bank and turn to the right. The crew were unable to steer the airplane back to the left and it skidded off the right side of the runway and came to a stop in the grass. Shortly after coming to a stop there was an explosion and a fire developed on the right side to the airplane. All seven occupants were able to successfully evacuate the airplane using the cockpit windows.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "1) the first officer’s failure to properly apply crosswind landing techniques to align the airplane with the runway centerline and to properly arrest the airplane’s descent rate (flare) before the airplane touched down; and 2) the captain’s failure to adequately monitor the first officer’s performance and command or initiate corrective action during the final approach and landing."

Accident investigation:

Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 5 months
Accident number: NTSB AAR-05-01
Download report: Final report

Landing gear collapse
Runway excursion


Follow-up / safety actions

NTSB issued 5 Safety Recommendations

Show all...


photo of MD-10F-N364FE
accident date: 18-12-2003
type: McDonnell Douglas MD-10F
registration: N364FE
photo of MD-10F-N364FE
accident date: 18-12-2003
type: McDonnell Douglas MD-10F
registration: N364FE
photo of MD-10F-N364FE
accident date: 18-12-2003
type: McDonnell Douglas MD-10F
registration: N364FE
photo of MD-10F-N364FE
accident date: 18-12-2003
type: McDonnell Douglas MD-10F
registration: N364FE
photo of MD-10F-N1801U
accident date: 18-12-2003
type: McDonnell Douglas MD-10F
registration: N1801U

Video, social media

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 Oakland International Airport, CA to Memphis International Airport, TN as the crow flies is 2868 km (1793 miles).
Accident location: Exact; deduced from 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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