Sunday, 17th of February, 1991
– United States of America
On Sunday, February 17, 1991, at about 0019 local time, Ryan International Airlines flight 590 (Ryan 590), a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-15RC, registration N565PC, crashed while taking off from Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport (CLE/KCLE), Cleveland, Ohio. The flightcrew consisted of two pilots. There were no other crewmembers or passengers on the flight, which was contracted to carry mail for the U.S. Postal Service. Both pilots were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed as a result of the accident. The airplane was headed to Indianapolis International Airport (IND/KIND), Indianapolis, Indiana.
The flight had flown through weather conducive to airframe ice about 40 minutes prior to the accident during descent into Cleveland. During the 35-minute turnaround at Cleveland the crew did not exit the airplane to conduct an exterior preflight inspection to verify that the wings were free of ice contamination. It was snowing while they were on the ground. The aircraft stalled during takeoff and rolled 90° at 50-100 feet. The airplane then suffered compressor stalls, the left wing contacted the runway and the aircraft cart wheeled. The DC-9 came to rest inverted 6500 feet from the threshold.
There was no operator requirement for the preflight. The flight had not been given training regarding the effects of wing contamination on the airplane. The FAA and the manufacturer have been aware for several years of the propensity of the DC-9 series 10 to the loss of control caused by wing contamination, but neither of them took positive action to include related information in the approved airplane flight manual.
– Cause: “The failure of the flight crew to detect and remove ice contamination on the airplane’s wings, which was largely a result of a lack of appropriate response by the Federal Aviation Administration, Douglas Aircraft Company, and Ryan International Airlines to the known effect that a minute amount of contamination has on the stall characteristics of the DC-9 series 10 airplane. The ice contamination led to wing stall and loss of control during the attempted takeoff.”