The aircraft was a twin-engine McDonnell Douglas MD-82 with registration N312RC and was carrying 149 passengers and 6 crew.
Flight 255 departed Saginaw for a flight to Detroit, Phoenix and Santa Ana, arriving at Detroit at 19.42h. Pushback for departure was accomplished at 20.34 and the crew received taxi instructions for runway 3C. During the taxi out, the captain missed the turnoff at taxiway C and new taxi instructions were given. At 20.42 Flight 255 was told to taxi into position on runway 3C and hold, followed by a takeoff clearance two minutes later. Shortly after rotation the stick shaker (stall warning) activated. The aircraft rolled left and right and the left wing struck a light pole in a car rental lot. Flight 255 continued to roll to the left, continued across the car lot, struck a light pole in a second rental car lot and struck the side wall of the roof in a 90deg left wing down attitude. The plane was still rolling to the left when it impacted the ground on a road outside the airport boundary and continued to slide along the road, striking a railroad embankment, disintegrating and bursting into flames.
The lone survivor of the aircraft was four-year-old Cecelia Cichan of Tempe, Arizona. Cecelia Cichan's mother, Paula Cichan, died in the crash, along with her father, Michael, and her 6-year-old brother, David. After the crash, Cecelia Cichan lived with relatives in Birmingham, Alabama, who shielded her from public attention.
PROBABLE CAUSE: "The flight crew's failure to use the taxi checklist to ensure that the flaps and slats were extended for take-off. Contributing the the accident was the absence of electrical power to the airplane take-off warning system which thus did not warn the flight crew that the airplane was not configured properly for take-off. The reason for the absence of electrical power could not be determined."
Transcript of the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR)
594CC Citation 594CC
102UM Copter 102 Uniform Mike
NW185 Northwest 185
NW762 Northwest 762
CAM Cockpit Area Microphone
CAWS Central Aural Warning System
PA Cabin Public Address system
RDO Radio Transmission from accident aircraft
TWR Detroit Metropolitan Airport Tower Controller
-1 Voice identified as the Captain
-2 Voice identified as the First Officer
-? Voice unidentified
[ ] Editorial insertion
( ) Questionable insertion
# Expletive deleted
* Unintelligible remark
20:42:08 RDO-2: Northwest Two Fifty Five’s ready on the Center.
20:42:11 TWR: Northwest Two Fifty Five, Metro Tower, roger. I need you to make a--ah, disregard Northwest Two Fifty Five. Runway Three Center, taxi into position and hold. You’ll have about three minutes on the runway. You have an in-trail separation behind traffic just departing.
20:42:21 CAM-1: If we need to pull up in this taxiway we will--and back around and take our turn.
20:42:22 RDO-2: Okay, position and hold, Northwest, ah, Two Fifty Five.
20:42:26 TWR: Simmons Twenty Seven Ninety Six, Metro Tower, winds there-zero-zero at one-three. Traffic is a DC-9, a mile; final Runway Three Left, you’re cleared to land.
20:42:31 CAM-1: No, not holding up for that # Continental ten.
20:42:36 PA-2: Ah, ladies and gentlemen, ah, we’re currently number one for departure--should be rolling in a couple minutes, ah we got ah, two
minutes in-trail separation--flight attendants, please be seated. Thank you.
20:42:44 TWR: Northwest One Eighty Five, Metro Tower, if you’re with me, plan to make a right turn in the run-up pad.
20:42:49 NW185: Okay, One Eighty Five, ah, we’ll go in the run-up pad.
20:42:51 TWR: One Eighty Five, thank you. You gotta one-five mile in-trail restriction behind company on the runway and he has the same restriction behind the aircraft that just departed.
20:42:55 CAM [sound similar to cockpit door being closed]
20:42:57 CAM-1: It’s blacker than # out there.
20:42:59 NW185: Okay, One Eighty Five.
20:43:00 CAM-2: A little rain out there.
20:43:02 TWR: Northwest Seven Fifty Two, contact departure. Thanks for all your help this evening.
20:43:04 NW752: Seven Fifty Two, goodnight, sir.
20:43:04 CAM-2: Transponder is set and on.
20:43:06 CAM-2: Annunciator.
20:43:09 CAM-1: Checked.
20:43:11 CAM-2: And ignition. CAM [sound of click]
20:43:12 CAM-1: On.
20:43:18 CAM [sound of click]
20:43:20 TWR: Simmons Twenty Seven Ninety Six, long landing approved if you like.
20:43:30 TWR: Northwest One Eighty Five, you can plan to follow a Continental 737 or--correction, One Eighty Five--disregard that. Taxi up to and hold short of the runway. I’ll be able to get you out. That jet behind you also has a delay.
20:43:38 CAM-1: Well, we ain’t goin’ left.
20:43:39 NW185: Okay, One Eighty Five. We’ll, ah, hold short of the runway.
40:43:40 CAM-2: Nope.
20:43:42 CAM-1: That’s for sure.
20:43:45 594CC: Citation Five Ninety Four Charlie Charlie, with you on the approach for Three Right.
20:43:48 TWR: Citation Five Ninety Four Charlie Charlie, Metro Tower. Winds three-zero-zero at thirteen, Runway Three Right, cleared to land. Where are you parking on the field?
20:43:48 594CC: Three-zero-zero at one-three, and we’ll be going to Page Avjet.
20:43:59 TWR: Northwest Seven Sixty Six, contact ground one-two-one-point-eight.
20:44:04 TWR: Northwest Two Fifty Five, Runway Three Center, turn right heading zero-six-zero, cleared for takeoff.
20:44:08 RDO-2: Right to zero-six-zero, cleared to go, Northwest Two Fifty Five.
20:44:14 CAM [sound similar to parking brake released]
20:44:12.1 CAM [sound of increasing engine power]
20:44:17 NW185: Okay, position and hold, Northwest One Eighty Five.
20:44:26 CAM-1: Won’t stay on.
20:44:29 CAM [sound of click]
20:44:30 CAM-2: Won’t go on?
20:44:31 CAM-1: But they won’t stay on.
20:44:32 CAM-2: Okay, power’s normal.
20:44:38 CAM [sound of click]
20:44:38 TWR: Northwest Fourteen Sixty Six, Metro Tower, traffic you’re following is a very short final, Runway Three Left, cleared to land. Winds three-zero-zero at one-three.
20:44:38.9 CAM-1: TCI was unset.
20:44:39 CAM [sound of click]
20:44:39.8 CAM-2: Can you get ’em now? There you go.
20:44:43 CAM-2: They’re on now. Clamp.
20:44:45.6 CAM-2: Hundred knots.
20:44:46.2 CAM-1: Okay.
20:44:51 TWR: Fourteen Sixty Six, so far that’s approved; I’ll advise different.
20:44:55 CAM-1: # [sound of laughter]
20:44:57.1 CAM-2: V1.
20:44:57.7 CAM-2: Rotate.
20:44:59.1 CAM [sound similar to nose wheel strut extension]
20:45:02.7 CAM [sound similar to nose wheel spinning down]
20:45:05.1 CAM [sound of stick shaker starts and continues until the end of recording]
20:45:09.1 CAWS: [sound of four horns] Stall.
20:45:11.4 CAWS: [sound of six horns] Stall.
20:45:11.9 CAM-?: * (right up to the V-Bar.)
20:45:13.3 CAWS: [sound of four horns] (Stall.)
20:45:15.7 CAM-?: (Ah), #.
20:45:17.1 CAWS: [sound of six horns] Stall.
20:45:18 102UM: Metro Tower, Lifeguard Copter one zero two Uniform Mike is, ah...
20:45:19.3 CAM [sound of first impact]
20:45:19.7 CAM [sound of second impact]
20:45:22.7 CAM [sound of third impact]
20:45:23.1 CAM [sound of fourth impact]
20:45:24.2 CAM [sound of fifth impact]
20:45:24.4 CAM [sound of sixth impact]
20:45:24.6 CAM [sound of seventh impact]
[end of recording]
[end of transcript]
Credit to D. Nelson for providing the transcript.