Captain killed as DC-9 cargo jet crashes onto Mexican highway

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Ukrainian DC-9 in passenger service

The captain of a USA Jet Airlines McDonnell-Douglas DC-9-15 freighter has been killed and the co-pilot seriously injured after the aircraft crashed onto a highway in Mexico. The crash occurred near Jose Lopez Portillo and split the aircraft into four main pieces.

The accident at 0:14 local time yesterday left debris strewn across a 600-metre radius. The co-pilot was hospitalised in a critical condition with second and third degree burns, but is expected to recover. The plane had picked up four tons of car parts in Hamilton, Ontario and after making a stop at Shreveport, Louisiana was headed toward Plan de Guadalupe International Airport, which serves Mexico's Saltillo city.

The crash occurred around twelve kilometres from the runway. An investigation has been launched and the Public Ministry and the Civil Aeronautic Authority say an engine failure seems to have left the plane uncontrollable. The deceased has been identified as 46-year-old Lon McIntosh, and the co-pilot Chris James, was listed in critical condition after undergoing surgery at a Saltillo hospital.

The jet was registered N199US. Because the plane was registered and manufactured in the United States, and the engines were built there, a team from the US has been sent to assist Mexico in the investigation. The US National Transportation Safety Board has sent a senior investigator as the US representative, and he brings with him experts in weather and aircraft systems. Also on the team are technical advisors from the Federal Aviation Authority, manufacturer Boeing (who bought out McDonnell-Douglas) and engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney.

The highway, which leads to Monterrey, was blocked as a result of the crash.