AVAir Flight 3378

AVAir Flight 3378

An AVAir Fairchild Metroliner at that time operated by American Eagle similar to the one involved.
Accident summary
Date 19 February 1988
Summary Controlled flight into terrain, pilot error
Site Cary, North Carolina, United States of America
35°52′08″N 78°48′36″W / 35.869°N 78.810°W / 35.869; -78.810Coordinates: 35°52′08″N 78°48′36″W / 35.869°N 78.810°W / 35.869; -78.810
Passengers 10
Crew 2
Fatalities 12 (all)
Injuries (non-fatal) 0
Survivors 0
Aircraft type Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner
Operator AVAir (Air Virginia)
Registration N622AV
Flight origin Raleigh-Durham Airport
Destination Richmond International Airport

AVAir Flight 3378 was a scheduled flight from Raleigh–Durham International Airport to Richmond International Airport which crashed after takeoff from Raleigh-Durham airport late in the night of 19 February 1988. All 12 people on board were killed in the accident.

Accident sequence

The weather at the time of the accident included a low ceiling and low visibility.[1]

AVAir Flight 3378 took off from Raleigh-Durham Airport at 21:25 local time and climbed to a height of 300 feet. Shortly after, the last transmission from the aircraft to the air traffic control was heard. The aircraft maintained an appropriate climb speed but at an excessive rate of turn, 40 to 45 degrees; a standard turn rate would have been 22 degrees. Due to the turn, the plane started to descend. The aircraft then struck the water in a reservoir 100 feet from the shoreline, at a point 5100 feet west of runway 23R. The wreckage then continued onto land and into a forest. Some post-crash fires also were seen at the crash site, but were quickly extinguished.[2][3]

According to the local controller, he heard but could not see the immediate previous plane, an American MD-80, depart. He saw the MD-80 on radar and cleared AVAir 3378 for departure. He briefly saw AVAir 3378 in the air, observed it on radar, and then cleared a Piedmont airplane to depart. In the next 3 minutes, he cleared a Cessna to land, coordinated with the departure controller, and attempted to locate AVAir 3378. At 2131:45, the RDU local controller alerted the emergency systems.[3][4]

This accident was rated as unsurvivable by the NTSB due to extreme destruction of the aircraft.[3]


The NTSB published its report into the disaster on 13 December 1988. They found that the preliminary cause of the accident was the failure of the flight crew to maintain a proper flight path because of the improper instrument scanning by the first officer and the flight crew's response to a perceived fault in the stall warning system. Contributing features were the lack of company response to documented indications of difficulties in the first officer’s piloting, and the lack of FAA surveillance of AVAir.[2][3]

In 1993, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) filed a petition against the findings of the investigation and asked it to be reconsidered. The NTSB accepted the petition in part. The causes of the crash were changed to: "The probable cause of this accident was the failure of flight crew to maintain a proper flightpath. Contributing factors were the ineffective management and supervision of flight crew training and operations and inappropriate FAA surveillance of AVAir."[2][3]


  1. "American Airlines plane crashes since 1970". airsafe.com. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 "ASN Aircraft Accident Swearingen Metroliner III N622AV". aviation-safety.net. Retrieved 3 June 2012.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 "Airdisaster.com PDF AVAir Flight 3378" (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  4. "NTSB Accident Report: Avair Inc. Flight 3378 Fairchild Metro III, SA227 AC, N622AV". NTSB. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
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