Northwest Airlink was the trade name of Northwest Airlines' regional airline service, which flew turboprop and regional jet aircraft from Northwest's domestic hubs in Minneapolis, Detroit, and Memphis. Service was primarily to small-to-medium-sized cities and towns where larger aircraft might not be economical to operate and also to larger markets to either provide additional capacity or more frequent flights than could be justified using mainline aircraft. Beginning in July 2009, the Northwest Airlink trade name was phased out, and replaced by the Delta Connection trade name for Delta Air Lines as part of the Delta/Northwest merger.
Northwest Airlink was formed on December 1984 when Northwest Airlines took steps to enhance its domestic services by entering a marketing agreement with Mesaba Airlines. Mesaba at the time was the dominant airline serving Minneapolis/St Paul at the time. Under the agreement Mesaba would operate as Northwest Orient Airlink. The aircraft used by mesaba wear much smaller then Northwests domestic fleet, The mesaba airlines fleet was this at the time: 14 Turboprop Beechcraft 99s and 1 Fokker F.27. In 1985 Big Sky Airlines entered the agreement with 8-18 capacity aircraft. Northwest Jet Airlink was formed in 2009 to operate services with jets.
|Airline||IATA code||ICAO code||Call sign||Aircraft operated||Parent|
|Compass Airlines||CP||CPZ||Compass||Embraer E170||Northwest Airlines|
|Big Sky Airlines||GQ||BSY||Big Sky||BAe Jetstream 31||Northwest Airlines|
|Mesaba Airlines||XJ||MES||Mesaba||Bombardier CRJ-200||Northwest Airlines|
|Pinnacle Airlines||9E||FLG||Flagship||Bombardier CRJ-200||Pinnacle Airlines Corp.|
|Express Airlines||II||EXP||Express||Saab 340||Northwest Airlines|
|Business Express||HQ||BUX||BizzEx||Saab 340||Northwest Airlines|
|Horizon Air||QX||QXE||Horizon||de Havilland Canada Dash 8-100||Alaska Air Group|
|Pacific Island Aviation||9J||PSA||Pacific Island||Short 360||Northwest Airlines|
|Fischer Brothers Aviation||FB||FBA||Fischer||CASA C-212||Northwest Airlines|
Since the Delta merger Compass is now owned by Trans States Holdings and Mesaba and Pinnacle Airlines Corp merged along with Colgan and became Endeavor Air.
Northwest Airlink service was operated using 34-seat Saab 340 turboprops and 50-seat Bombardier CRJ-200 aircraft in a single class of service. Mesaba Airlines and Compass Airlines also operated Bombardier CRJ-900s and Embraer E175s, respectively. Both aircraft were operated in a 76-seat, two-class configuration.
Northwest Airlink previously operated Avro RJ85 jet aircraft in a 69-seat, two-class configuration before this aircraft type was retired from the fleet. Other aircraft operated in the past by Northwest Airlink included various commuter turboprops such as the BAe Jetstream 31, Dash 8, Swearingen Metroliner, Beech 99, CASA 212 and Short 360.
Incidents and accidentsEdit
- March 4, 1987: Northwest Airlink Flight 2268, operated by Fischer Brothers Aviation, a CASA 212 N160FB was on a scheduled flight from Mansfield to Detroit with an intermediate stop in Cleveland when it crashed while landing at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. The plane yawed violently to the left about 70 feet above the runway, skidded to the right, hit 3 ground support vehicles in front of Concourse F and caught fire. Out of 19 occupants onboard (16 passengers and 3 crew), 9 were killed. The cause of the crash was determined to be pilot error.
- December 1, 1993: Northwest Airlink Flight 5719 being operated by Express Airlines I, a Jetstream 31, was flying a scheduled flight from Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport to International Falls with an en route stop in Hibbing when it crashed while approaching for landing at Chisholm-Hibbing Airport. The plane descended struck the tops of trees and then two ridges and came to rest inverted on its right side. All 18 occupants (16 passengers and 2 crew) died. The cause of the crash was the lack of crew-coordination and loss of awareness of the altitude during a night instrument landing.
- October 14, 2004: Pinnacle Airlines Flight 3701 was a Bombardier CRJ200 with a crew of two operating a ferry flight (with no passengers) from Little Rock, AR to Minneapolis, MN. It crashed in a residential area in Jefferson City, MO due to the flight crew pushing the plane past its capabilities and ignoring warnings. Both pilots were killed. The NTSB has since finished its investigation of the accident.