The FedEx Express Boeing 727-200F went well below the proper glideslope path during a night visual approach flown by the first officer, the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says in its report on the 26 July 2002 accident.

The aircraft was approaching runway 09 at Tallahassee regional airport when it hit trees on short final approach and crashed. Both pilots and the flight engineer were seriously injured and the aircraft was destroyed. The summary rules out weather, aircraft or load problems and airport lighting as factors, giving the probable cause as "the captain's and first officer's failure to establish and maintain a proper glidepath during the night visual approach to landing".

Contributing to the crash, says the summary, "was a combination of the captain's and the first officer's fatigue...[their] failure to adhere to company flight procedures, the captain's and the flight engineer's failure to monitor the approach, and the first officer's colour vision deficiency". The first officer had a licence waiver for colour vision deficiency, and the report argues that this affected his ability to react to the runway precision approach path indicator lights (white and red) which would have clearly shown that the approach was too low.


Source: Flight International