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11.22.20 – A Look Back at the Successful Evacuation of TWA Flight 427

Sunday, November 22, 2020

A Look Back at the Successful Evacuation of TWA Flight 427

On November 22, 1994, TWA Flight 427 was scheduled from St. Louis International Airport to Denver’s Stapleton International Airport. There were 132 passengers, five Flight Attendants, two Pilots, and one Flight Deck jumpseater aboard the MD-82 aircraft.

As the MD-82 began its takeoff, the Flight Deck jumpseater yelled, “There’s an airplane [on the runway]!” Both Pilots of the TWA aircraft immediately applied the brakes, and the Captain applied the left rudder in an effort to steer the airplane left to avoid a private Cessna aircraft on the runway. Moments later, an impact was felt on the airplane’s right side. The MD-82 had struck the Cessna. The TWA Pilots reported that the effects did not adversely affect their ability to maintain control of their aircraft.

The TWA Pilots continued to abort the takeoff and brought the airplane to a stop. Due to a significant amount of spilled jet fuel, an immediate evacuation was necessary. The Flight Attendants of TWA Flight 427 immediately began an evacuation of the aircraft, which was completed in under seven minutes. Of the 140 persons on board the MD-82, eight passengers sustained minor injuries during the evacuation.

The MD-82 sustained substantial damage during the collision and the Cessna was destroyed. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that this accident’s probable cause was the Pilot of the Cessna, mistakenly believing that his assigned departure runway was runway 30R, which was already being used by TWA Flight 427. Today, we remember the two occupants of the Cessna who lost their lives.

On this 26th anniversary, we recognize both the Flight Attendants and Pilots of TWA Flight 427. Their heroic actions led to a successful aborted takeoff and textbook evacuation of the aircraft. Our initial and continued qualification training as Flight Attendants is a true testament to saving lives in an aircraft evacuation such as this one.

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