AIRCRAFT ACCIDENT REPORT - UNITED AIRLINES, INC., MCDONNELL-DOUGLAS, DC-8-61, N8082U, PORTLAND, OREGON, DECEMBER 18, 1978

About 1815 Pacific standard time on December 28, 1978, United Airlines, Inc., Flight 173 crashed into a wooded, populated area of suburban Portland, Oregon, during an approach to the Portland International Airport. The aircraft had delayed southeast of the airport at a low altitude for about 1 hour while the flightcrew coped with a landing gear malfunction and prepared the passengers for the possibility of a landing gear failure upon landing. The plane crashed about 6 nmi southeast of the airport. The aircraft was destroyed; there was no fire. Of the 181 passengers and 8 crewmembers aboard, 8 passengers, the flight engineer, and a flight attendant were killed and 21 passengers and 2 crewmembers were injured seriously. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the accident was the failure of the captain to monitor properly the aircraft's fuel state and to properly respond to the low fuel state and the crewmember's advisories regarding fuel state. This resulted in fuel exhaustion to all engines. His inattention resulted from preoccupation with a landing gear malfunction and preparations for a possible landing emergency. Contributing to the accident was the failure of the other two flight crewmembers either to fully comprehend the criticality of the fuel state or to successfully communicate their concern to the captain.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Errata sheet inserted. Paper copy also available on subscription, North American Continent price $40.00/year; all others write for quote.
  • Corporate Authors:

    National Transportation Safety Board

    Bureau of Accident Investigation, 800 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC  USA  20594
  • Publication Date: 1979-6-7

Media Info

  • Pagination: 64 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00198503
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Technical Information Service
  • Report/Paper Numbers: NTSB-AAR-79/7
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Oct 17 1979 12:00AM