737s: United 585, March 3, 1991, Colorado Springs CO

On June 5, 2001, the NTSB released a Revised Final Report for United 585, the Boeing 737, which crashed on March 3, 1991, at Colorado Springs, CO. This is a story about a 737 rudder failure, and ultimately re-designed parts, told through UA585 and to remember the 25 souls on board. The original NTSB investigation blamed the “wind” and listed UA585 as one of only three “unsolved” aviation disasters. The truth was always there – but it took ten years to finally receive a revised Final Report from the NTSB.

In March 1991 all I wanted was the truth about the cause of the crash, and a redesigned aircraft, if necessary, to be sure that others did not die because of this fatal flaw. I did not imagine that it would take so many years to have the truth to be public record. I believe that because of the public pressure from a number of people, and deaths of our loved ones, that the truth finally prevailed.

March 23‑24, 1999, the NTSB formally revised the Probable Cause for UA585 to be:

“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.”

United 585 was possibly the first major commercial airline crash with no Public Hearing back in 1992. A meeting was held which tended to blame the wind for the crash. 

We thank the NTSB for their diligence and for the extensive revisions to the Revised Final Report.

Gail Dunham

United 585 Timeline and Documents