Sunday, March 22, 2009

Fatal FedEx MD-11 accident at Tokyo-Narita

An MD-11 aircraft operated by FedEx has crashed and burned at Tokyo's Narita International Airport. The aircraft was completely destroyed. According to Japan Today, the two crew members on board, who were said to be U.S. citizens, were fatally injured.

[Update Note: FedEx has confirmed in a press statement that there were no survivors. See below.]

The accident happened on March 23, 2009 at about 06:50 AM local time as FedEx Flight 80 was arriving at Narita from Guangzhou, China. Japanese television aired video footage of the landing, which showed the plane touching down on Runway 34L, then bouncing, and ultimately rolling to the left, striking its wing, and bursting into flames. The video was posted to YouTube, and is included at the bottom of this post. (Audio accompanying the video is in Japanese.)

Japan Today reports windy conditions at the time of the accident:
A local observatory said winds of up to about 72 kilometers per hour were blowing near the airport at the time of the accident.

The observatory said it had notified airline companies and related entities of the possibility of the occurrence of wind shear—a condition in which wind speed and direction suddenly change—after the weather became rough on Sunday evening.
Updates about this accident will be posted here on Aircrew Buzz as further information becomes available.

UPDATE: A short time ago, FedEx issued the following statement:
A FedEx Express MD-11 was involved in an incident today en route from Guangzhou to Narita, with two crew members on board. The incident occurred upon landing. We are sad to report that there were no survivors.

Our deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of these crew members. This loss pains all of us at FedEx. Right now our focus is on doing everything we can to assist those involved at this difficult time.

We are thankful for the quick response of emergency teams on the ground and will continue to work closely with the applicable authorities as we seek to determine the cause for this tragic incident.
Condolences to the families, flying partners and friends of the crew members who lost their lives in this accident.

UPDATE Apr. 17, 2010:  The Japan Transport Safety Board has released an interim report on this accident. The report does not specify a probable cause, but does include information from the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder, and photos.  Click here to download the English version (31-page 'pdf' file).

RELATED: FedEx identifies pilots who died in Narita MD-11 accident

If the video does not play or display properly above, click here to view it on YouTube.