Alaska Airlines Flight 261Monday January 31, 2000
The aircraft crashed into the Pacific Ocean south of Point Mugu in 650 ft. feet of water while en route from Puerto Vallarta to San Francisco. Radio transmissions from the plane indicated the pilots were struggling with a jammed stabilizer for the last 11 minutes of the flight before nose-diving into the sea. While preparing to make an emergency landing at Los Angeles International Airport control was lost and the MD-83 was seen in a nose-down attitude, spinning and tumbling in a continuous roll, inverted, before it impacted the sea. Loss of airplane pitch control resulting from in-flight failure of the horizontal stabilizer trim system jackscrew assembly's acme nut thread. The component failed because of excessive wear resulting from Alaska Airlines' insufficient lubrication of the jackscrew assembly. Contributing to the accident were Alaska Airlines' extended lubrication interval and the Federal Aviation Administration's approval of that extension, which increased the likelihood that a missed or inadequate lubrication would result in excessive wear of the acme nut threads and Alaska Airlines' extended end play check interval and the FAA's approval of that extension, which allowed the excessive wear of the acme nut threads to progress to failure without the opportunity for detection. Also contributing to the accident was the absence on the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 of a fail-safe mechanism to prevent the catastrophic effects of total acme nut thread loss. Cynthia Oti, radio financial talk show host, Dean Forshee, guitarist, Jean Gandesberry, columnist, Tom Stockley, columnist were among those killed.