US Air Flight 427 was a scheduled flight from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport to Pittsburgh, with a final destination of West Palm Beach, Florida. The flight crashed on Thursday, September 8, 1994, killing everyone on board.

The Boeing 737-3B7 flying the route, registered N513AU, was approaching runway 28R of Pittsburgh International Airport, located in Findlay Township, Pennsylvania. The airport was, at the time, the largest hub for the airline.


45-year-old Captain Peter Germano and 38-year-old First Officer Charles B. "Chuck" Emmett III piloted the aircraft. At about 6,000 feet (1,800 m) and 6 miles (10 km) from the runway, the aircraft experienced a sudden loss of control and slammed into the ground in a nearly vertical nose down position in Hopewell Township, Beaver County,[1] near Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, killing all 127 passengers and 5 crew members.

Flight 427 has the third highest death toll of any aviation accident involving a Boeing 737-300 after the crash of Flash Airlines Flight 604 and China Southern Airlines Flight 3943.


After the longest investigation in aviation history—more than four and a half years—the concluding statement said:

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the USAir flight 427 accident was a loss of control of the airplane resulting from the movement of the rudder surface to its blowdown limit. The rudder surface most likely deflected in a direction opposite to that commanded by the pilots as a result of a jam of the main rudder power control unit servo valve secondary slide to the servo valve housing offset from its neutral position and overtravel of the primary slide.[2]

The NTSB concluded that similar rudder problems caused the previously mysterious March 3, 1991 crash of United Airlines Flight 585, and the June 9, 1996 incident involving Eastwind Airlines Flight 517, both of which were Boeing 737s. As a result of the investigation, pilots were warned of and trained how to deal with insufficient aileron authority at an airspeed at or less than 190 knots (218 mph, 354 km/h), formerly the usual approach speed for a B737. Four additional channels of information—pilot rudder pedal commands—were incorporated into flight data recorders, while Boeing redesigned the rudder system on 737s and retrofitted existing craft until the affected systems could be replaced. The United States Congress also required airlines to deal more sensitively with the families of crash victims.[3]

US Airways 427 is no longer a valid flight number on US Airways as of January 2011.

Flight 427 was the second fatal crash in a little over two months at the company (the other being USAir Flight 1016 at Charlotte-Douglas Airport in July 1994). The crashes contributed to the financial crisis USAir was experiencing at the time.[4]

The crash killed noted neuroethologist Walter Heiligenberg (born 1938).[5]


The accident was depicted on the Discovery Channel Canada/National Geographic Channel television series Mayday (also known as Air Emergency or Air Crash Investigation in various countries) series 4 episode entitled "Hidden Danger" ("Mystery Crashes"), alongside United Airlines Flight 585 and Eastwind Airlines Flight 517.

See alsoEdit


  1. "28 Seconds of Horror," Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
  2. NTSB summary
  3. Remarks from acting NTSB Chairman, 2002
  4. "Disaster only one in a string of setbacks for troubled company," Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
  5. "List of Crash Victims." Wilmington Morning Star. September 10, 1994. 4A. Google News (28 of 49). Retrieved on October 3, 2009.

External linksEdit


Template:Aviation incidents and accidents in 1994