September 20, 1989 brought cold and wet weather
to New York's LaGuardia Airport. USAir's flight 5050 was preparing
to depart for Charlotte, North Carolina with 57 passengers on board
along with four flight attendants. On board the flight deck of the
737 were Captain Micheal Martin and First Officer Constantine
Wreckage of 5050
crew had a long layover in New York and was forced to wait for
nearly and hour and a half due to weather. Finally at about 11:30pm
the aircraft was cleared for takeoff with Kleissas at the controls.
As the aircraft picked up speed on the takeoff roll, it began to
drift to the left. The crew decided to abort the takeoff, but the
aircraft was still rolling when it reached the end of the runway,
plunging into Flushing Bay. The fuselage broke up and came to rest
on the approach lights. Two people were killed.
The crew reported that the aircraft began to drift during the
takeoff roll which Kleissas attempted to counteract with rudder
inputs. The aircraft continued to drift and Martin then attempted to
assist by using the nosewheel steering tiller. The crew then
reported hearing a bang followed by continued rumbling. At this
point, the abort decision was made. The aircraft had accelerated to
nearly 140kts however, and due to the wet conditions of the runway,
could not be stopped in time.
Investigators believed the rumbling sound to have
been the nose wheel turning and then sliding down the runway.
Recovery of the FDR showed that the rudder trim had been left in the
full left deflection position throughout the takeoff. in fact, it
had been in that position since the aircraft was started at the
gate. This would normally be an item on the pre-takeoff checklist
and recovery of the CVR indicated that the crew had checked the
rudder trim during the checklist.
It was not determined whether a mechanical
malfunction caused the rudder to be out of position or if the crew
had simply missed catching it. Investigators concluded that Martin's
hesitation on making the decision to abort was the cause of the
accident. Martin had only just been upgraded to Captain and 505 was
Kleissas' first non-supervised flight.