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badice.com ~ travel musings for the masses

I was watching a special yesterday on Flight 191 which crashed 23 yrs. ago. The special was based around the horrible maintenance that American Airlines devoted to their DC-10 fleet. Their poor habits in maintaining their aircraft killed 270 people and basically put McDonnell-Douglas out of business (they were bought out by Boeing).

The whole cause of the crash centered around a pylon that held the engine to the wing of the aircraft. When the pylon snapped (due to poor maintenance) it severed the main hydrualics line that supplied hydraulic fluid to the wing. This caused the wing to dip and the plane to stall, the plane rolled over and nosed into the ground.

After the accident McDonnell-Douglas released a statement that they had never anticipated a complete loss of hydraulics in one wing because the chances of something like that happening were slim. Well, they weren’t slim enough.

I think any idustry where there could be a mess up can relate to this crash. The remote possibility of something going wrong should cause some alarm and a jump to fix it. Had American Airlines stepped up to the plate and taken better care of its fleet this probably would not have been an issue. If the engineers at McDonnell-Douglas would have taken the time to produce more possibilities for errors, then this may not have been an issue. But, some of the problem layed in the way the FAA put out its plane requirements. There was no “stick-shaker” on the copilots side of the aircraft. The “stick-shaker” warns of a stall and had this been installed, the copilot (who was flying the plane due to power loss on the pilot side) would have known they were going into a stall and tried to save the aircraft.

Little things make all the difference.

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