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The wreckage on the crash site
|Date||21 December 1992|
|Summary||Microburst-induced wind shear along with crew error|
|Aircraft type||McDonnell Douglas DC-10|
|Flight origin||Amsterdam Schiphol Airport|
Martinair Flight 495 was a McDonnell Douglas DC-10 operated by Dutch airline Martinair, that crash-landed in severe weather conditions at Faro Airport, Portugal, on 21 December 1992. The aircraft carried 13 crew members and 327 passengers, mainly holidaymakers from the Netherlands. 54 passengers and 2 crew members died and 106 of the other occupants were badly injured.
The aircraft involved was a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30CF, registered PH-MBN, which was built in 1975 wearing the serial number 46924. It was delivered to Martinair on 26 November 1975. However, Martinair leased it out to three Asian airlines from October 1979 to September 1981. From then on until the accident, only disrupted by a short lease to World Airways in early 1992, it was solely operated by Martinair again, although it had been sold earlier that year to the Royal Netherlands Air Force for a planned conversion to KDC-10.
On the morning of the accident, the plane was delayed at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol because of a faulty thrust-reverser. This was not fixed. Nevertheless, the plane took off to Faro at 7:30 am. According to Martinair, the faulty thrust-reverser was not a contributing factor in the accident.
A large thunderstorm lay in the immediate vicinity of the airport, accompanied by heavy rain, windshear and low cloud. The control tower informed the crew of the thunderstorm activity, in addition stating that there was water on the runway. Following one unsuccessful attempt to land, the crew was executing a VOR/DME procedure approach to runway 11 (now runway 10) when the aircraft flew through at least two microbursts. According to the Portuguese final accident report, firefighters saw an explosion coming from the aircraft 22 seconds before it crashed.
The aircraft landed with a vertical speed exceeding the manufacturer's design limits. Following this hard landing, the starboard main gear collapsed. The starboard wing fuel tank ruptured and the contents ignited. The DC-10 fuselage split in two, coming to rest with the front section lying on its side.
The commission of inquiry determined the cause of the accident to be unexpected windshear in the final stage of approach in combination with a high rate of descent, causing a hard landing exceeding the aircraft's structural limits. Contributing factors were crew errors, specifically a premature large power reduction and apparently not noticing the disengagement of CWS mode.
Media related to Martinair Flight 495 at Wikimedia Commons