If you go over to the NTSB website (http://www.ntsb.gov
) and look for this accident, you can access a .PDF file of the accident report itself:
Title: Ground Spoiler Activation in Flight/Hard Landing, Valujet Airlines Flight 558 Douglas DC-9-32, N922VV Nashville, Tennessee, January 7, 1996 NTSB Report Number: AAR-96-07, adopted on 11/11/1996 [Abstract | PDF document]
NTIS Report Number: PB96-910407
If you scroll down to page 153, they have a diagram of the nose gear, and this is what the manual says about the item you're curious about:
Nose gear spray deflector..
Deflector minimizes water and/or slush ingestion during takeoff and landing. (If installed).
I'm not current on DC-9s or newer MD80/90 variants, and I don't know if these newer ones are so-equipped. Presumably, the longer fuselage length(s) of the newer ones (plus use of chined nosetires) made these spray deflectors obsolete.
AAR90, ya out there to confirm/deny?
The appearance of this item on the DC9 is similar to that part of the 737 gravel kit, but the DC9 application appears to be due to its engines so close to the aircraft centerline, and thus the more common threat of water/slush ingestion...
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.