Delta Air Lines Flight 1288

Delta Air Lines Flight 1288 was a regularly scheduled flight from Pensacola, Florida, to Atlanta, Georgia. On July 6, 1996, the aircraft serving the flight, a McDonnell Douglas MD-88, was on takeoff roll from Runway 17 at Pensacola when it experienced an uncontained, catastrophic turbine engine failure that caused debris from the front compressor hub of the left engine to penetrate the left aft fuselage. The cause of the engine failure was judged to have been a fault in the manufacture of the fan, and failure of the airline to spot the resulting crack in the blade.

Delta Air Lines Flight 1288
Delta Airlines Flight 1288 Engine Failure.jpg
The engine after it experienced catastrophic uncontained compressor rotor failure
DateJuly 6, 1996 (1996-07-06)
SummaryUncontained engine failure
SiteRunway 17 at Pensacola Regional Airport, Pensacola, Florida, United States
30°28′40″N 87°11′25″W / 30.47778°N 87.19028°W / 30.47778; -87.19028Coordinates: 30°28′40″N 87°11′25″W / 30.47778°N 87.19028°W / 30.47778; -87.19028
Aircraft typeMcDonnell Douglas MD-88
OperatorDelta Air Lines
Flight originPensacola Regional Airport, Pensacola, Florida
DestinationWilliam B. Hartsfield International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia

The impact left two passengers dead and two severely injured; the two dead were a mother and son. The pilot aborted takeoff and the airplane stopped on the runway. Three other passengers sustained minor injuries during the emergency evacuation. Most of the passengers were traveling on vacation.[1]

Aircraft and crewEdit

The aircraft involved was an 8-year-old McDonnell Douglas MD-88 registered as N927DA.[2] It was built in April 1988 and delivered to Delta in November the same year. The aircraft was equipped with two Pratt & Whitney JT8D-219 turbofan engines. It had 22,031 flight hours and 18,826 take off and landing cycles at the time of the accident.[3]: 8–13 

The 40-year-old captain had been with Delta Air Lines since 1979, having previously flown for a commuter airline. He had 12,000 flight hours, including 2,300 hours on the MD-88. The 37-year-old first officer had been with Delta since 1990, having logged 6,500 flight hours, with 500 on them on the MD-88. The first officer had previously been a United States Air Force pilot.[3]: 6–8 

Pre-flight inspectionEdit

During the pre-flight inspection, the first officer noted a few drops of oil coming from the "bullet" or tip of the number one (left) engine, although it was said to be "not that serious". The first officer also noticed a couple of missing rivets on the left wing. The pilot told National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators that both problems were observed as non-threatening and that the aircraft was airworthy; therefore, maintenance was not informed.[3]

Takeoff and accidentEdit

N927DA, the aircraft involved later returned to service, photographed in July 2015.

At 2:23 pm CDT, Delta flight 1288 was cleared for takeoff on Runway 17. As the first officer was advancing the throttles and reaching an airspeed of 40 knots (74 km/h; 46 mph), the cockpit lost lighting and instrumentation. The rear cabin passengers and flight crew heard a very loud bang and experienced a blast-like sensation. The pilot then ended takeoff by bringing the throttle to idle and engaging the brake, which brought the aircraft to an eventual stop without use of reversers or spoilers.[3]

Once the aircraft stopped, the first officer attempted to contact the tower; however, he was unable due to the cockpit's lack of power. The flight crew then activated emergency power, contacted Pensacola tower, and declared an emergency. The cockpit's jump-seat passenger, an off-duty Delta Boeing 767 pilot deadheading with the fellow cockpit crew members, went to inspect the rear of the aircraft. When the first officer saw the over-wing exits open and about half of the passengers missing along with hearing engine noise, he returned to the cockpit and advised the captain to shut down the engines.

Left engine nose inlet cowl where it landed on the runway.

At 2:27 pm CDT the pilot requested emergency medical assistance due to the jump-seat passenger's report of a large hole in the fuselage, engine debris throughout the cabin, and injured passengers. He then reported there was no evidence of smoke or fire in the cabin, and that the rear cabin door had been opened and the emergency slide was inflated. The flight attendant who initiated the evacuation through that door told the NTSB that she saw fire on the left engine and therefore abandoned evacuation through that door and directed passengers forward. She reported that there were many injuries and possibly two dead, and that therefore she began to evacuate the plane until she was stopped by the first officer. Due to the damage to and danger at the rear of the aircraft, the air stairs built into the MD-88 were found unsuitable to use. The captain then requested portable air stairs to facilitate the disembarkation of passengers, which arrived 25 minutes later.[3]

Injuries and deathsEdit

Two passengers suffered fatal injuries.[4] Five more passengers were injured; one of them was noted to be in serious condition.[5]

Map of N927DA, indicating equipment, locations of fatally injured passengers, and locations of seriously injured passengers

NTSB investigationEdit

After a total investigation, the NTSB determined the most probable cause of the accident was a fracture in the left engine's front compressor fan hub, which resulted from failure of the airline's fluorescent penetrant inspection process to detect a potentially dangerous crack in the fan which originated from the engine's initial manufacture. The NTSB also attributed the accident to the failure of Delta's maintenance team to discover the problem.[3]


As of April 2018, the FAA reports the aircraft involved in the accident was repaired and returned to service with Delta under the same registration N927DA.[6][7] The aircraft was withdrawn from use by Delta on August 10, 2018.[8]

See alsoEdit


  This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Transportation Safety Board.

  1. ^ "2 die when engine shatters as jet takes off". Houston Chronicle. Houston Chronicle News Services. July 7, 1996. p. A1. Archived from the original on May 11, 2009. Retrieved February 13, 2009.
  2. ^ "FAA Registry (N927DA)". Federal Aviation Administration.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Uncontained Engine Failure, Delta Air Lines Flight 1288, McDonnell Douglas MD-88, N927DA, Pensacola, Florida, July 6, 1996" (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board. January 13, 1998. Retrieved December 27, 2018.
  4. ^ Wald, Matthew L. (July 7, 1996). "2 Killed in Jet On Runway After Engine Breaks Apart". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 13, 2014.
  5. ^ "2 Killed as Engine Parts Pierce Cabin of Delta Jet". Los Angeles Times. June 27, 1985. Retrieved January 13, 2014.
  6. ^ "FAA Registry (N927DA)". Federal Aviation Administration.
  7. ^ "FAA Registry - Aircraft - N-Number Inquiry". Federal Aviation Administration. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  8. ^ "N927DA Delta Air Lines McDonnell Douglas MD-88". Retrieved July 11, 2020.

External linksEdit