“Collision” Between 1994 St. Louis Plane Crash and Recent Japan Airline Tragedy Resurfaces After 3 Decades

ST. LOUIS, MO – Nearly three decades have passed since a tragic collision occurred involving a Trans World Airways commercial plane and a smaller Cessna charter plane during takeoff from St. Louis. The incident took place on the late evening of Nov. 22, 1994, resulting in two fatalities in the Cessna aircraft, while more than 100 occupants on the TWA plane managed to escape without fatalities, despite eight reported injuries.

The circumstances of this decades-old aviation disaster were revisited after a recent aircraft collision at a runway in Japan, which claimed five lives. With parallels to the St. Louis incident, more than 100 people were successfully evacuated to safety in the wake of Tuesday’s collision.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the St. Louis crash involved a six-year-old McDonnell Douglas MD-82 model plane bound for Denver as part of a regularly scheduled TWA Flight 427 route. The incident occurred shortly before 10 p.m. after experiencing some takeoff delays. At the other end of the collision was a Cessna 4411 Conquest II aircraft that had dropped off a small number of passengers and planned to return to Michigan for a future flight.

A NTSB investigation revealed that the Cessna‚Äôs pilot had mistakenly taxied onto the wrong runway upon arrival to St. Louis. Additionally, a ground controller’s non-standard phrasing and failure to order the Cessna pilot to repeat the cleared runway contributed to the collision. The TWA plane accelerated to around 80 miles per hour before its pilot spotted the smaller plane, but was unable to avoid a collision, causing significant damage to the Cessna and puncturing fuel tanks on the TWA plane.

Quick-thinking decisions from the pilot and airport crew played a crucial role in preventing more casualties, with former Lambert Airport director Leonard Griggs commending the pilot for avoiding what could have been a catastrophe. As a result of the TWA Flight 427 collision, the NTSB issued several safety recommendations, including mandatory readback of runway assignments for pilots, verification of readback by controllers, and the installation of ground radar at Lambert Airport.

In 2001, TWA ceased operations and transferred ownership to American Airlines, putting an end to its aviation legacy. The tragic incident continues to serve as a reminder of the importance of aviation safety protocols and the potential consequences of lapses in communication and navigation during takeoff.