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Fine Air DC-8 Crashes Just After Takeoff MIA Killing All Onboard
By Steve Hall

On August 7, 1997, at 1236 eastern daylight time, a Douglas DC-8-61, N27UA, operated by Fine Airlines Inc. (Fine Air) as Flight 101, crashed after takeoff from runway 27R at Miami International Airport, Miami, Florida.  

The three flight crew members and one security guard on board were killed, and a motorist was killed on the ground. The airplane was destroyed by impact and a post crash fire.

The cargo flight, with a scheduled destination of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, was conducted on an instrument flight rules flight plan and operated under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121 as a Supplemental air carrier.


The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the accident, which resulted from the airplane being misloaded to produce a more aft center of gravity and a correspondingly incorrect stabilizer trim setting that precipitated an extreme pitch-up at rotation, was (1) the failure of Fine Air to exercise operational control over the cargo loading process; and (2) the failure of Aeromar to load the airplane as specified by Fine Air.  

NTSB investigators recovered 60 (of the 85) pallet locks from the wreckage. Of these, 57 locks were found in an unlocked (down) position. Two locks were found in the locked (up) position in pallet and lock positions 18-1 and 18-4 (the locks are embedded in the five guide tracks installed in the floor). The preimpact position of a third recovered lock could not be determined because of extensive damage (See NTSB Report)

Forty-nine of the 60 locks recovered were removed by Safety Board investigators for visual and subsequent fractographic examination. No evidence was found of cracking on the pallet lock bases or of elongation at the flooring attach points. The other eleven pallet locks could not be removed from the cargo deck floor because of extensive fire damage. 

Contributing to the accident was the failure of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to adequately monitor Fine Air's operational control responsibilities for cargo loading and the failure of the FAA to ensure that known cargo-related deficiencies were corrected at Fine Air.



Safety issues discussed in this report include the effects of improper cargo loading on airplane performance and handling, operator oversight of cargo loading and training of cargo loading personnel, the loss of critical flight data recorder information, and FAA surveillance of cargo carrier operations. 

Fine Air was an international cargo airline. It began in 1989 under the supervising eye of owner J. Frank Fine. When it was flying, Fine Air had various members of the Fine family work at different capabilities. Fine Air' hubs were in Miami International Airport, Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta and Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Puerto Rico. It operated DC-8 and Lockheed L-1011 type jets. 

It was reported the pilots, departing out of the former Runway 27R (now 26L) attempted to recover but the aircraft stalled and crashed onto a field adjacent the Miami City Rail Yard less than a mile from the airport. The aircraft missed two factories, a commercial building, and the Budweiser Distribution Center in unincorporated Miami, Florida between the populated residential suburbs of Miami Springs and Doral, FL. 

The DC-8 skidded across the field and onto NW 72nd Ave, a roadway that is typically full of traffic during the lunch hour but was surprisingly quiet at 12:36p EST when it came down. The plane's wreckage skidded quickly across the roadway and onto the parking lot of a commercial mini-mall across the street from the empty field; it took out 26 cars in the lot. Cockpit Voice Recorder Transcript Minutes Before The Crash:

RDO Radio transmission from accident aircraft
CAM Cockpit Area Microphone sound or source
-1 Voice identified as Captain
-2 Voice identified as First Officer
-3 Voice identified as Second Officer
-4 Voice identified as male ground personnel
-? Voice unidentified
TWR Miami Local Controller (tower)
GND Miami Ground Controller
CLR Miami Clearance Controller
HOU Houston HF radio
UNK Unknown source
* Unintelligible word
@ Nonpertinent word
# Expletive deleted
% Break in continuity 
RDO-2 Miami ground Fine Air one oh one heavy Jurassic park ready taxi. 1233:02
GND Fine Air one oh one heavy Miami ground taxi runway two seven right. 1233:05
RDO-2 taxi two seven right Fine Air one oh one heavy. 1233:08
CAM-1 and ah we can block this baby at thirty one and let’s go flaps one five and taxi and take off checklist. 1233:15
CAM ((sound of clicks)). 1233:17
CAM-2 cleared to taxi two seven 1233:19
CAM-1 okay. 1233:26
CAM-3 okay taxi takeoff check. 1233:27
CAM-3 brakes. 1233:28
CAM-1 they're checked. 1233:28
CAM-3 flaps and slots. 1233:29
CAM-2 fifteen fifteen slots lights out. 1233:31
CAM-3 anti-ice, anti-ice, de-ice and PT2. 1233:33
CAM-2 they're off. 1233:34
CAM-3 yaw damper. 1233:34
CAM-1 checked and on. 1233:36
CAM-3 okay flight recorder is on T/C's and bleeds are off spoiler pump is normal pressure's checked, fuel system is set and flight controls. 1233:45
CAM-1 ready. 1233:45
CAM-3 ready. 1233:46
CAM-2 ailerons left. 1233:47
CAM-3 double drop rise. 1233:47
CAM-2 neutral. 1233:48
CAM-3 double drop rise. 1233:49
CAM-2 ailerons right. 1233:50
CAM-3 double drop rise. 1233:50
CAM-2 neutral. 1233:51
CAM-3 double drop rise. 1233:53
CAM-2 EPI down, EPI aft indication. 1233:56
CAM-1 rudder left. 1233:56
CAM-3 drop rise. 1233:57
CAM-1 neutral. 1233:58
CAM-3 drop rise. 1233:58
CAM-1 rudder right. 1233:59
CAM-3 drop rise. 1234:00
CAM-1 neutral. 1234:00
CAM-3 drop rise. 1234:01
CAM-1 checked. 1234:04
CAM ((sound of trim-in-motion tone)). 1234:02
GND Fine Air one oh one heavy monitor tower one one eight point three we'll see ya. 1234:05
RDO-2 eighteen three see ya later. 1234:07
CAM-1 data please. 1234:08
CAM-3 okay takeoff data. 1234:11
CAM-1 completed left center. 1234:12
CAM-2 set right. 1234:14
TWR Fine Air one oh one are you ready to go. 1234:15
CAM-1 I need thirty seconds. 1234:16
RDO-2 about thirty seconds. 1234:15
CAM-3 stabilizer and trim tabs. 1234:19
CAM-2 two point four indicated zero zero. 1234:22
CAM-3 takeoff and departure briefing completed radios and flight director. 1234:24
CAM-2 set for departure and cross checked. 1234:26
CAM-3 seat-belts and shoulder harness. 1234:26
CAM-1 on.1234:27
CAM-2 on.1234:27
CAM-3 okay at the line. 1234:28
RDO-2 Fine Air one oh one is ready for takeoff two seven right. 1234:30
CAM-1 I got this guy. 1234:31
TWR Fine Air one oh one's traffic's five mile final seven four seven two seven right fly heading two seven zero cleared for takeoff. 1234:35.9
RDO-2 cleared for take off two seven right Fine Air one oh one heavy. 1234:36.6
CAM-1 below the line please. 1234:39.7
CAM-3 anti skid. 1234:40.0
CAM-1 on light's checked. 1234:42.2
CAM-3 stand-by rudder pump's on continuous ignition. 1234:42.8
CAM-2 all engines. 1234:43.9
CAM-3 transponder DME. 1234:44.4
CAM-2 on on. 1234:45.2
CAM-3 okay landing lights. 1234:46.1
CAM-1 they're on. 1234:47.0
CAM-3 okay checklist complete. 1234:50.0
CAM-1 this guy's pretty pretty close to I think we'll need to take it rollin' he looks like he is closer than four miles to me I don't want him to go around, we're not that heavy anyway 1235:01.4
CAM-1 I'll just stand them up here, take it on the roll , okay you're spooled. 1235:02.1
CAM ((sound of increasing engine sounds)). 1235:07.6
CAM-3 okay four spooled and ah stable. 1235:10.6
CAM-2 max power. 1235:13.2
CAM-1 just like auto throttles. 1235:15.2
CAM-2 yeah. 1235:17.3
CAM-2 airspeed on the right. 1235:19.5
CAM-1 okay comin' up on sixty knots power's set. 1235:26.2
CAM-1 eighty, you got the steer on the rudders. 1235:36.7
CAM-3 okay number four's is (heatin' up a little). 1235:39.6
CAM ((Sound of thump). 1235:43.1
CAM-1 vee one. 1235:47.3
CAM (( sound of thump)). 1235:49.9

CAM-1 rotate. 1235:51.5
CAM-1 easy easy easy easy. 1235:55.6
CAM-1 vee two. 1235:56.9
CAM-1 positive rate. 1235:58.7
CAM-2 gear up. 1236:00.0
CAM-2 what's goin’ on. 1236:01.3
CAM-1 whoa #. 1236:01.7
CAM-1 ##. 1236:01.8
CAM ((sound of trim-in-motion tone)). 1236:02.2
CAM ((sound of stick shaker starts)). 1236:02.8
CAM ((sound of trim-in-motion tone)). 1236:04.5
CAM ((sound of trim-in-motion tone)). 1236:05.6
CAM ((sound of trim-in-motion tone)). 1236:07.4
CAM-1 oh no # no. 1236:07.5
CAM ((sound of trim-in-motion tone)). 1236:08.8
CAM ((sound of trim-in-motion tone)). 1236:09.3
CAM-1 oh no # No. 1236:12.0
CAM (( stick shaker stops)). 1236:13.3
CAM-1 # # #. 1236:15.1
CAM-1 hold on hold on keep it light easy #. 1236:17.8
CAM (( stall warning starts and continues until end of recording)). 1236:17.6
GPWS too low gear. 1236:19.2
CAM-1 oh #. 1236:19.4
GPWS too low - terrain terrain. 1236:20.73
CAM ((sound similar to engine surge)). 1236:20.8
CAM-1 oh # #. 1236:20.81
CAM ((sound similar to engine surge)). 1236:20.88
CAM ((sound similar to engine surge)). 1236:21.9
GPWS woop woop pull up. 1236:21.96
CAM ((sound similar to engine surge)). 1236:22.73
CAM ((sound similar to engine surge)). 1236:22.85
CAM ((sound similar to engine surge)). 1236:22.9
CAM-2 something - what's happening. 1236:24.5
CAM-2 oh no. 1236:25.4  end of recording.
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