The crash Aug. 16 of Northwest Airlines Flight 255 was so sudden that the pilot did not radio a warning to air traffic controllers that he had trouble, government documents showed yesterday.
The Federal Aviation Administration released a recording of conversation between the cockpit crew and controllers that showed fewer than 90 seconds from the time the jet took off from Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus, Mich., until it crashed in a ball of fire.
The crash of the McDonnell Douglas MD80 killed 156 persons in the second worst tragedy in U.S. aviation history.
The last words of the cockpit crew to the controllers were to acknowledge direction just before the plane was about to take off -- "Right to zero six cleared to go two-fifty-five." This was 11 seconds after 8:44 p.m. EDT.
One minute and 23 seconds later, the plane lay shattered on the ground, and the controller reported, "I got a crash on the
airport . . . . "
The recording also indicated a wind microburst in the airport's vicinity about 25 minutes before the crash, but federal aviation officials said it had no apparent role in the tragedy. A microburst is a violent and sudden change in the wind direction that can push a plane down.