In-Flight Fire to Blame for ValuJet Flight 592 Crash

The 27-year-old DC-9 aircraft used on this route was previously owned by Delta Air Lines.

Flight 592 took off after a delay of 1 hour and 4 minutes at 2:04 pm and began a normal climb. However, at 2:10 p.m. the flight crew noted an electrical problem. Seconds later, a flight attendant entered the cockpit and advised the flight crew of the fire. Passengers' shouts of "fire, fire, fire" were recorded on the plane's cockpit voice recorder when the cockpit door was opened. Though the ValuJet flight attendant manual stated that the cockpit door should not be opened when smoke or other harmful gases may be present in the cabin, the intercom was disabled, and there was no other way to inform the pilots of what was happening. By this time, the plane's interior was completely on fire.

The crew immediately asked air traffic control for a return to Miami due to smoke in the cockpit and cabin. Captain Candi Kubeck and First Officer Richard Hazen were given instructions for a return to the airport. One minute later, the First Officer requested the nearest available airport.

Flight 592 disappeared from radar at 2:14 p.m. It crashed in Browns Farm Wildlife Management area in the Everglades, a few miles west of Miami, at speeds in excess of 500 miles per hour (800 km/h) Kubeck, Hazen, the three flight attendants, and all 105 passengers aboard were killed. Recovery of the aircraft and victims was made extremely difficult due to the location of the crash. The nearest road of any kind was more than 1⁄4 mi (402.34 m) away from the crash scene, and the location of the crash itself was a deep-water swamp with a bedrock base. The DC-9 shattered on impact with the bedrock, leaving very few large portions of the plane intact. Sawgrass, alligators, and risk of bacterial infection from cuts plagued searchers involved in the recovery effort.

Transcript of Cockpit Tape in ValuJet Crash

2:04:09: Takeoff.


2:09:02: (Sound of click.)

2:10:03: (Sound of chirp heard on cockpit area microphone channel with simultaneous beep on public address channel.)

2:10:07: Pilot: What was that?

2:10:08: Co-pilot: I don't know.

2:10:15: Pilot: We got some electrical problems.

2:10:17: Co-pilot: Yeah. That battery charger's kickin' in. Ooh, we gotta.

2:10:20: Pilot: We're losing everything.

2:10:21: Tower: Critter five-nine-two, contact Miami center on one-thirty-two-forty-five, so long.

2:10:22: We need, we need to go back to Miami.

2:10:23: (Sounds of shouting from passenger cabin.)

2:10:25: Female voices in cabin: Fire, fire, fire, fire.

2:10:27: Male voice: We're on fire. We're on fire.

2:10:28: (Sounds of tone similar to landing gear warning horn for three seconds.)

2:10:29: Tower: Critter five-ninety-two contact Miami center, one-thirty-two-forty-five.

2:10:30: Pilot: (Unintelligible) to Miami.

2:10:32: Tower: Uh, five-ninety-two needs immediate return to Miami. Critter five-ninety-two, uh, roger, turn left heading two-seven-zero. Descend and maintain seven-thousand.

2:10:36: (Sounds of shouting from passenger cabin subside.)

2:10:39: Tower: Two-seven-zero, seven-thousand, five-ninety-two. What kind of problem are you havin'?

2:10:42: (Sound of horn)

2:10:44: Pilot: Fire.

2:10:46: Cockpit: Uh, smoke in the cockp ... smoke in the cabin.

2:10:47: Tower: Roger.

2:10:49: Pilot: What altitude?

2:10:49: Co-pilot: Seven-thousand.

2:10:52: (Sound similar to cockpit door moving.)

2:10:57: (Sound of six chimes similar to cabin service interphone.)

2:10:58: Flight attendant: OK. We need oxygen. We can't get oxygen back there.

2:11:00: (Sound similar to microphone being keyed only on interphone channel.)

2:11:02: Flight attendant: (Unintelligible) is there a (unintelligible) way we could test them? (Sound of clearing her throat.)

2:11:07: Tower: Critter five-ninety-two, when able to turn left heading two-five-zero. Descend and maintain five-thousand.

2:11:08: (Sound of chimes similar to cabin service interphone.)

2:11:10: (Sounds of shouting from passenger cabin.)

2:11:11: Cockpit: Two-five-zero seven-thousand.

2:11:12: Flight attendant: Completely on fire.

2:11:14: (Sounds of shouting from passenger cabin subside.)

2:11:19: Co-pilot: Outta nine.

2:11:19: (Sound of intermittent horn.)

2:11:21: (Sound similar to loud rushing air).

2:11:38: Cockpit: Critter five-ninety-two, we need the, uh, closest airport available ...

2:11:42: Tower: Critter five-ninety-two, they're going to be standing by for you. You can plan ...

2:11:45: (72-second interruption in recording.)

2:12:57: (Sounds of tone similar to power interruption to recorder, loud rushing air, repeating tones similar to recorder self-test signal starts.

2:12:58: Tower: (Unintelligible) contact Miami approach on, correction, you, you keep on my frequency.

2:13:11: (Interruption on recording.)

2:13:15: (Sounds of repeating tones similar to recorder self-test signal starts and continues, rushing air.)

2:13:25: End of recording.