USA Banner

Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

McDonnell Douglas MD-83

"Photo of Alaska Airlines MD-80 Copyright Robin Guess - used with permission"
Photo of Alaska Airlines MD-80
Copyright Robin Guess - used with permission

Alaska Airlines Flight 261, N963AS

Anacapa Island, California

January 31, 2000

On January 31, 2000, about 1621 Pacific standard time, Alaska Airlines Flight 261, a McDonnell Douglas MD-83, N963AS, crashed into the Pacific Ocean about 2.7 miles north of Anacapa Island, California. All 88 people on board were killed and the airplane was destroyed on impact. Flight 261 was a scheduled international passenger flight from Lic Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR), Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Seattle, Washington, with an intermediate stop planned at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the probable cause of this accident was a loss of airplane pitch control resulting from the in-flight failure of the horizontal stabilizer trim system jackscrew assembly's Acme nut threads. The thread failure was caused by excessive wear resulting from Alaska Airline's insufficient lubrication of the jackscrew assembly.

Last updated: Friday, December 16, 2022