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Source: National Transportation Safety Board (1997). Wheels-Up Landing, Continental Airlines Flight 1943, Douglas DC-9 N10556, Houston, Texas, February 19, 1996. Aircraft Accident Report NTSB/AAR-97/01. Washington, DC: National Transportation Safety Board.
Source Type:   Accident
Synopsis: On February 19, 1996, at 0902 central standard time, Continental Airlines (COA) flight 1943, a Douglas DC-9-32, N10556, landed wheels up on runway 27 at the Houston Intercontinental Airport, Houston, Texas. The airplane slid 6,850 feet before coming to rest in the grass about 140 feet left of the runway centerline. The cabin began to fill with smoke, and the captain ordered the evacuation of the airplane. There were 82 passengers, 2 flightcrew members, and 3 flight attendants aboard the airplane. No fatalities or serious injuries occurred; 12 minor injuries to passengers were reported. The airplane sustained substantial damage to its lower fuselage. The regularly scheduled passenger flight was operating under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121 and had originated from Washington National Airport about 3 hours before the accident. An instrument flight rules flight plan had been filed; however, visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the landing in Houston. The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the captain’s decision to continue the approach contrary to COA standard operating procedures that mandate a go-around when an approach is unstabilized below 500 feet or a ground proximity warning system alert continues below 200 feet above field elevation. The following factors contributed to the accident: (1) the flightcrew’s failure to properly complete the in-range checklist, which resulted in a lack of hydraulic pressure to lower the landing gear and deploy the flaps; (2) the flightcrew’s failure to perform the landing checklist and confirm that the landing gear was extended; (3) the inadequate remedial actions by COA to ensure adherence to standard operating procedures; and (4) the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) inadequate oversight of COA to ensure adherence to standard operating procedures. Safety issues discussed in this report include checklist design, flightcrew training, adherence to standard operating procedures, adequacy of FAA surveillance, and flight attendant tailcone training. Safety recommendations concerning these issues were made to the FAA.
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