Federal investigators said a FedEx plane accident at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in October 2016 was caused by corrosion and fatigue in the landing gear but that the company’s maintenance policies and failures were contributing factors.
In its final report of the incident, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the incident stemmed from problems in the FedEx plane’s landing gear, which collapsed when the aircraft landed on the runway at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport.
The two-person flight crew aboard the FedEx MD-10-10F wide-body cargo jet reported hearing a bang as the brakes were applied. The plane then yawed to the left and skidded off the runway where it caught on fire.
As the two pilots were evacuating, the airplane’s left main fuel tank exploded. The explosion and blaze destroyed the left wing and damaged the plane beyond repair.
The FedEx plane’s captain sustained minor injuries. The first officer escaped without injury.
NTSB investigators found the failure of the left main landing gear was the result of a metal fatigue crack that started within the gear. The crack went undetected and gradually progressed until the gear collapsed.
The NTSB said it found no indications of the proper protective coatings on components within the aircraft’s landing gear, which over time could lead to corrosion pitting and eventually to fatigue cracking. The NTSB indicated this was a result of faulty maintenance. The crack itself also went undetected and gradually progressed until the gear collapsed, investigators concluded.
The NTSB also said FedEx’s interval of nine years between scheduled overhauls of the main landing gear, which exceeded Boeing’s recommendation of eight years, contributed to the accident. Investigators determined the fatigue crack would likely have been detected had FedEx performed an overhaul within Boeing’s recommended timeframe. The gear failed eight years and 213 days after its last overhaul.
Following the accident, FedEx inspected the landing gear in its entire MD-10-10F fleet of 27 in-service airplanes. The company identified 16 cylinders as “concerns” and all were permanently removed from service.
After reviewing its maintenance program, FedEx reverted to an eight-year overhaul limit for main landing gear cylinders as recommended by the manufacturer.