Air Crash Investigation Schiphol Plane Crash in the Suburbs

a 747 is flying over the Pacific when suddenly a cargo door explodes open sucking nine passengers out of the plane it went from a perfectly normal calm serene situation to absolute pandemonium another 747 another terrifying incident the pilot struggled to control the plane for 32 minutes but it’s hopeless they faced a condition that no pilot can possibly imagine which is the airplane to the log of control a 737 loses a giant chunk of fuselage mid-flight causing a decompression so powerful it kills a flight attendant I saw what I think was the stewardesses feet as she was being sucked out of the plane a dc-10 loses an engine on takeoff causing the plane to roll on its side and nose the entire engine had physically separated from the aircraft all these disasters have one thing in common the physical structure of each plane failed with fatal consequences what push these planes to the breaking point whatever a plane goes down it’s the tragic aftermath that usually flashes over and over again around the globe scattered wreckage tattered clues to what may have happened but now you’re about to become an eyewitness to the accident how dramatic animations will put you up close and even inside those troubled planes right next to passengers experiencing unimaginable terror in the next hour jets with extreme failures that can be traced back to the machines very core or structural structural failures when part of the airplane itself fails in the worst case it could be something like a wing actually coming off the airplane or a tail section or an engine or cargo door the structure of the airplane is like the bones in your body and it holds everything together if the airplane structure is the skeleton then the mechanical parts inside it could be considered the organs within the structure a hydraulic system is comparable to muscle the electrical system is like the brain and the pneumatic system like the breath all three of these systems must be in working order for a plane to fly properly structural and mechanical failures can often be traced back to problems with the way planes are maintained or inspected a textbook example April 28 1988 when a 737 famously lost part of its fuselage in midair 1:30 p.m. Aloha Airlines flight 243 takes off on its night inner island hop of the day the flight from Hilo to Honolulu should last just 35 minutes for this 19 year old Boeing 737 has a major problem growing cracks in its skin that are visible yet they’ve gone undetected Patricia Aubrey is sitting in row 17 we took off everything was normal I always read a book when I’m flying to fully understand what’s about to happen to a loja flight 243 it’s critical to know what an airplane goes through every time it flies think of the plane’s fuselage as a balloon every time it goes up the outside of the plane or the skin expands that’s from the cabin being pressurized so people can breathe at high altitudes where the air is thin then when the plane comes down the skin contracts every takeoff and landing no matter how long or short the trip is considered one cycle and each cycle puts stress on an airplane potentially causing microscopic cracks so you have this constant pressure cycle where it expands contracts expands and contracts over a period of time the metal will eventually start to fatigue because of all of this expansion and contraction just like a balloon as the 737 climbs through 24,000 feet the cabin pressurizes and the skin the plane expands just as its supposed to but something else expands to those cracks in the 737s fuselage suddenly there’s an explosive decompression its force is so powerful a flight attendant is sucked out of the plane I saw what I think was the stewardesses feet as she

was being sucked out of the plane magazines briefcases shoes you name it anything that wasn’t tied down was going out that hole an 18-foot section of the plane is gone passengers sitting nearby can see the sky above and the ocean below all that’s holding the 737 together and just barely are the floor beams and the planes belly structure about two rows in front of me I could see the floor was buckling up the plane was bending in the middle you can’t just have a very strong piece of the bottom of the airplane without having a strong piece of the top and so when they lost that crown it really compromised the structural integrity the cockpit would move in one direction and then finally the fuselage would would actually Bend and then follow it so it wasn’t as though it was a single piece it actually was bending they knew they needed on the ground board and you feel on board Roger how many stranger okay we’ll have em lift on the way miraculously the pilots managed to safely land the plane these images of Aloha flight 243 stun people around the globe it doesn’t seem to make any difference how many times we’ve seen it today it is still amazing an airliner with its fuselage rip toy in midair and all but one aboard survived it happened over Hawaii I saw that the plane was falling apart stuff from the front earlier that year the FAA had issued a routine maintenance alert for airlines to detect and repair cracks Aloha had not yet performed those inspections on its fleet when a passenger reports after the accident that she had seen a crack near the cabin door she boarded the plane it doesn’t take long for investigators to figure out what’s happened to the 737 it’s a one-two punch of hot and humid weather and constant ups and downs unlike long-haul flights where you take off at JFK and you fly eight hours and you land in London that’s one cycle in an eight-hour period on these island hoppers you could fly for two hours and have 20 cycles up and down up and down 30 minute cycles where you pressurize the airplane take off fly for 15 minutes land then pressurize the airplane again so the accumulative effect of the cycling of the Alijah is greater in a short period of time than on a long-haul flight where you have one pressurization cycle in an eight-hour period that was what was really not understood until this particular accident we’ve seen how airplane failures whether structural or mechanical can often be traced back to the way planes are maintained or inspected a tragic case in point American Airlines flight 191 the deadliest single airplane crash on US soil may 25th 1979 the Friday of Memorial Day weekend a McDonnell Douglas dc-10 is on its way to Los Angeles from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport with 258 passengers and 13 crew members on board melody smith and kim jong parents are on the first leg of a trip to Hawaii my mom and dad always had a big kick-off for summer and so we normally would have been with them however they had decided about six months before that they were going to Hawaii a few minutes before 3 p.m. the plane is cleared to taxi to runway 32 right at 3:02 p.m. it’s cleared for takeoff our investigative animations are about to turn you into an eyewitness to a horrific accident may 25th 1979 the Friday of Memorial Day weekend American flight 191 a mcdonnell douglas dc-10 is on its way to Los Angeles from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport a few minutes before 3 p.m. the plane is cleared to taxi to runway 32 right at 3:02 p.m. it’s cleared for takeoff our investigative animations are about to turn you into an eyewitness to a whole rific accident the flight crew flight 191 starts their normal takeoff well as the airplane departs the runway on their normal climb out they get an indication that they’ve got an engine failure one of the dc-10 swain mounted engines has ripped away from the plane flying up and over the left wing gone with it are hydraulics and pneumatics the systems

critical to controlling the airplane the pilots knew they had a very serious problem they knew the engine had failed but they didn’t know that it had actually come off the airplane there’s no indication for that the leading edge slats which give the wing better lift at slow speeds during takeoff and landing are controlled hydraulically now with no hydraulic power on the left side the left slats retract back into the wing which means now he has less lift on that side than he has on the opposite side so the airplane wants to roll an iWitness manages to snap a photo of American 191 rolled onto its side with its left wing pointing straight down to the ground what happens next seals the fate of flight 191 pilots are trained to handle engine failures and they did what their training to do they reduced their airspeed but when they did that they no longer had air flow across the flight controls they did a very good job of trying to get control of airplane but they just didn’t have enough altitude or enough time but to do it the plane staggers up to 325 feet as its rolled onto its side and now slowed down it is uncontrollable within 31 seconds of the engine severing from the plane that dc-10 sleds into a trailer park less than a mile from the runway the entire flight has lasted just two minutes but it’s changed these sisters lives forever I can remember still remember you saying there’s no other way to tell you that there’s been a really bad accident yeah and mom and dad are dead and I and I said you need to find a way to come home there was no noise at all and the plane just it went left wing tip right into the ground and as soon as it hit it had a napalm effect that just everything in its path was just blown into a sheet of flame initially NTSB investigators are baffled what could have caused a structural failure of this magnitude this is all of us left of American Airlines flight 191 Apsaras it got on its way to Los Angeles they sift through the wreckage and look to the planes to flight recorders for clues within days of the crash they begin to zero in a part called the pylon it has a 13-inch crack they believe was caused by fatigue prior to the crash which maintenance inspections had missed to change an engine on the dc-10 the manufacturer recommended detaching the engine from the pylon but leaving the pylon attached to the wing at the time engineers from several airlines were using a shortcut they found if the engine and pylon assembly were removed in one piece they could change an engine a lot more quickly they were just dropped the entire unit from the wing changed the component put it all back together in theory it sounded great on paper it looked good it’s when maintenance workers are reattaching the engine and pylon eight weeks before the crash the soon-to-be fatal mistake is made if the airline had followed manufacturer requirements workers would have simply reattached the engine to the pylon using a specialized machine recommended by the manufacturer but because they’ve removed the massive engine pylon assembly together now it has to be replaced as one unit using a forklift workers inadvertently cracked the top section of the pylon called the flange as they try to refit the assembly back onto the plane because they were using a forklift to try and hold this heavy engine up while they put these two big bolts in place to hold the the pylon on the wing they created a stress situation that over a period of time when the airplane was returned to service caused one of the bolts to fail this morning investigators were out on runway 32 right at O’Hare Airport looking for a bolt about four inches long the crack is hidden from view so it goes undetected with every takeoff and landing cycle putting stress on the broken flange the crack is growing and no one knows it eight weeks after the engine change when flight 191 takes off on that warm spring afternoon suddenly without warning disaster when our parents died initially we would have all of their friends a lot of friends saying well isn’t this wonderful they all they went together and there were some young anime and they loved one another and whatever and I can remember at the time I had to kind of choke back saying no I don’t think this is

wonderful seven months after the accident the NTSB issues several critical and immediate recommendations for airlines among them airlines must discontinue the unapproved maintenance practice and inspect pylon attach points on all dc-10s by approved inspection methods the NTSB also recommends that airlines change their flight manuals so pilots know not to ever reduce speed in such a scenario as in the case of flight 191 neither American Airlines nor McDonnell Douglas ever admitted any fault to this accident but in April 1981 the two companies agreed to share the cost of settlements in more than 200 lawsuits that were filed the terms of those settlements remain confidential every accident and incident because of its unique characteristics we’re always going to learn something and we have to take those lessons learn we got to heed those lessons and we got to enhance aviation safety we don’t want those people to have died in vain coming up next that cargo door where your luggage goes imagine opening in midair our dramatic animations put you at the scene of another heart-stopping structural failure I denied it a denial complete absolute then hold the Nile if this had not happened and a plane flying out of control crashing into a mountain will take you deep inside his 747 to discover what went wrong that would be a nightmare scenario for why requires trust that all the people involved ground crews mechanics pilots are doing what they’re supposed to do and that the airplane itself will function normally but for the passengers of this unlucky flight that trust is about to be shaken when a cargo door is closed open admitted 1989 I was a practicing trial lawyer in Denver I had nanofication in about three years Bruce leopard is a licensed pilot and an aviation attorney who represents plane crash victims he never imagined he’d end up experiencing and surviving a deadly incident in the sky I had just completed working extensively on Northwest 255 a crash in Detroit Michigan I was about to get started on a new case continental 1713 in Denver Colorado and I had a three week break in between those two cases this was going to be a vacation that I would really remember February 24th 1989 2:00 a.m. the United Airlines flight 811 is had route from Honolulu to Auckland New Zealand 355 people are on board for the night flight over the Pacific takeoff an initial climb are normal we were settling in for for a restful flight and aircraft was climbing but as the Boeing 747 approaches 23,000 feet the shock of a lifetime there was an explosion everything that wasn’t tied down was airborne these dramatic animations put you next to the plane as the forward right cargo door rips open in-flight slams upward creating a gaping hole in the fuselage and then falls from the plane the resulting massive depressurisation sucks out two rows of seats and nine passengers the door swung out it’s an outward opening door and as a stop that keeps it from going up all the way but in flight for the air loads was such that it just kept going right through that stop and went all the way up and slammed against the fuselage above the door and it actually fractured that fuselage above the door and one second their fellow passengers were sitting there with magazines and and drinks with their reading lights on and then a man a second later they were gone the structural integrity of the main deck has failed extensively there’s a 10 by 15 foot hole in the fuselage and debris has been sucked into both engines on that side the inboard number 3 engine is pulsing fire number 4 is also failing the pilot begins a rapid descent to an altitude where passengers can breathe normally they declared an emergency and enroute back to the airport they had to literally shut down both the number 3 and number 4 engines so now they’re flying this big four engine aircraft on

two engines that in and of itself is a challenge for any pilot for passengers it’s a moment of pure terror someone in business class manages to snap this photo as the plane is quickly descending you know everyone likes to think that in stressful situation that that you will act properly you act heroically that you will do the right thing but when you can do nothing there’s no place to go there’s no place to run you can’t scream because no one can hear you so what do you do you sit there with your hands full in your lap and you look at the people around you and there is very little comfort from watching others or experience the same threat that you are then out of nowhere there’s a sudden glimmer of hope when any structural element of an airplane fails the result can be fatal a 747 has a cargo door blown out amid flight the decompression is so powerful it sucks two rows of seats and nine passengers out of the plane in a split second you can’t scream because no one can hear you so what do you do you sit there with your hands full in your lap and you look at the people around you and there is very little comfort from watching others or experience the same threat that you are then out of nowhere there’s a sudden glimmer of hope I remember seeing a number of the passengers on the right side pointing to the windows and if you looked out the window you could see there were lights there were the lights of Honolulu there were lights Hawaii and we could see land after 20 nerve-racking minutes United flight 811 touches down in Honolulu a cheer like a rollercoaster ride and hands were thrown up above their heads is everybody exclaimed there there there joy that the airplane had touched down this photograph was taken during the evacuation 346 surviving passengers and crew get off the plane within one minute and people say Allen in the world could everybody get off that quick and I tell him we had a very highly motivated group of people a grinding noise woke me up there was that being in a flesh I looked up the whole right hand side of the business compartment had gone the sound of the explosion the feeling of explosion and the violence of the explosion is awesome and I hope none of you have to go through it it’s a tragedy for the families of the nine passengers who don’t survive and a trauma for the rest but at least it’s over this video shot by attorney Bruce Lampard two weeks after the fatal accident documents the aftermath of United Airlines flight 811 investigators immediately know the problem centers on the cargo door they can tell from the gaping halt where it used to be the key question why did it explode open plummeting to the Pacific Ocean below but the key piece investigators would like to examine the cargo door itself is lost at sea with no hard evidence the NTSB issues a report 14 months after the accident based on previous problems with other 747 cargo doors the report mentioned a possible electrical malfunction in the cargo door locking mechanisms wreckage is falling out of me but aviation insiders recall most of the blame falling on the Honolulu Airport ground crew it’s one of the most interesting stories in aviation accident investigation because initially it was thought that the people closing the door had not done it properly that the door had not been sealed and latched properly a number of employees that work for the airline had come forward after the probable cause and of all the individuals that work in Honolulu this person was even least likely to not close the doors but he was known for being very meticulous but absent any physical evidence to the contrary the NTSB is bound by facts and the best estimate of the facts at that time said that he didn’t close the door properly is it human error or is there another explanation it wasn’t until a year and a

half later when the Navy went down and actually found the cargo door the two pieces of the cargo door brought him back up and they were examined that the real cause or the true cause of the event was identified to follow the cargo door failure on United flight 811 it’s important to understand the two-step locking system that secure 747 cargo doors first a series of C shaped latches electronically rotates around pins in the bottom of the doorframe then for further reinforcement a handle moves l-shaped arms called locking sectors up against the sea ledges to keep them in place in addition there are pins up and down both sides of the door normally all of this holds the door shut but in the case of United flight 811 something goes horribly wrong a forensic analysis a bit of the door indicated that there was actually a short-circuit it’s an electrical problem that had caused unexpectedly a command to unlock the door to actually come open so that it was a design issue finding that cargo door obviously was critical to answering this question it was so critical that the National Transportation Safety Board actually reissued the report with a different and more up-to-date cause as well as causing all 747s to be redesigned to prevent this kind of failure from occurring again so it was a case where the industry learned a very valuable lesson the final cause according to the NTSB faulty wiring that allow the properly closed door to unlatch sometime between the closing of the door and takeoff in other words it happened on the ground but the grounds crews didn’t do it before this accident there were several other documented cases circle problems with cargo doors on 747s in fact Boeing had alerted Airlines to the problem and the FAA had given Airlines nearly two years to perform the $2,000 per door upgrade at the airlines expense when United 811 took off on February 24th 1989 the deadline was a year away and the problem was scheduled to be corrected by United two months after the accident to this day that angers passenger dick gut Shaw seat 7 seat there was a warning out by the FAA that that door had a problem the United chose not to corrected that’s the only thing that really bothered me because I still fly United I still like him but they made a mistake there they did not fix the problem when they could have fixed it aviation attorney Bruce Lampard ended up representing about 40 of his fellow passengers in lawsuits against United without admitting any wrongdoing the airline did settle lawsuits for millions of dollars as I told the lawyers for United I would much prefer getting on an airplane where nothing happens and have no cases then be on an airplane that blows up at 23,000 feet and represent my fellow passengers I’ll make a deal with any airline I fly on you get me there safely and I won’t represent any passenger as we’ve seen structural failure on airplanes can be caused by inadequate inspections faulty maintenance practices for design flaws buried deep within the guts of these giant machines but that deadly a single plane crash in history a 747 that crashed into a Japanese mountainside at another caused entirely in August 12th 1985 Japan Airlines flight 123 has a staggering 524 people on board the plane is set to fly from Tokyo to Osaka this workhorse of a jet makes the one-hour trip several times a day it’s like flying from New York to Boston Suzanne Bailey’s boyfriend akihisa Yukawa is onboard a key was a banker he was traveling on business that day it was a very humid hot Japanese summer day from the moment that I opened my eyes that day and Aniki do too there was a hint of something wrong which I couldn’t explain also on board Takashi Takeda his sister sua : oh she did tell me that she’s going to Tokyo but I said to her it’s dangerous to fly

she told me don’t worry brother I’ve already bought a ticket when we come back a catastrophic case of structural failure August 12 1985 Japan Airlines flight 123 has a staggering 524 people on board the plane is set to fly from Tokyo to Osaka this workhorse of a jet makes the one-hour trip several times a day it’s like flying from New York to Boston you’re looking at footage of the actual plane involved in this crash taking off on its final ill-fated flight 6:12 p.m everything seems normal as jal123 lifts off and climbs out but suddenly 12 minutes into the flight there’s a problem they were in the middle 20,000 feet which is where airplanes experienced the most pressure on the vessel itself at that point they received a door warning that a door was ajar which turned out not to be the case we’ve already seen how an airplanes fuselage expands as the plane goes up and contract as the plane comes down the altitude with the greatest pressure differential between the pressurized inside of an aircraft and the unpressurized atmosphere outside is right around 24,000 feet that’s where jal123 experiences an explosive shock a massive decompression for reasons that they didn’t know but the crew did not realize the amount of damage they had sustained until very quickly the airplane became less and less controllable to the point that it was no longer controllable at all that would be a nightmare scenario for a pilot what the pilots don’t know is a critical piece of the 747 structure has cracks that have expanded to the breaking point and snap it’s the aft pressure bulkhead an umbrella shape structure toward the back of a plane it is the device that keeps the pressure in the back part of the airplane contained properly without that F pressure bulkhead you can’t pressurize the tube and you wouldn’t be able to breathe the 35,000 feet without the use of pressurized supplemental oxygen the back of the airplane is getting considerable amount of stress not only from the pressurization but also from the tail and all the stresses of flight so that bulkhead is very very robust it is a serious piece of structure at the moment of a decompression all the pressurized air from the cabin needs somewhere to go it blasts back with a cracked bulkhead and unbeknownst to the pilot with tremendous force blows the vertical fin and other parts of the tail section right off the giant 747 critical hydraulic lines are severed in the process the first officer makes several radio calls that says that we’re in uncontrollable flight we do not have control of the airplane they’re fighting a little and for their lives the airplane starts to go into what they call a few goiter pitch oscillations up and down as well as Dutch roll the airplane starts to swing back and forth and no matter what the pilot tries to do as far as flight control inputs he’s not having an effect the pilots fight desperately for control the airplane 432 terrifying minutes they manage to keep the plane of law but with no hydraulics they can’t control the planes up and down or side to side movement eyewitnesses on the ground later report the plane was flying quote like a staggering drunk as jal123 enters a mountainous region northwest of Tokyo the plane goes into a nosedive falling 18,000 feet a minute just before 7 p.m jaeil flight 123 drops off the radar screen it is slim due to a mountain at nearly 400 miles an hour these are the first daylight pictures from the site of what appears to be the worst single airliner crash ever the Japan Airlines 747 went down in the mountains outside Tokyo it is believed that all 524 people on board were killed it is a tragedy with many clues tonight but no hard answers yet it takes rescuers half a day to get to the remote spot where Japan Airlines Jai Al flight 123 has slammed into a mountain northwest of Tokyo when investigators finally reach the crash site they began

calling the wreckage for clues miraculously they find something they didn’t expect two women and two young girls have survived the four people that survived the accident were seated in the very aft section of the airplane so when the airplane struck the ground the tail section broke from the main section of the fuselage and was thrown well away from the impact point Takashi Takeda hoped his sister would be among the survivors sadly as he discovered at a makeshift morgue that was not the case he had a scar here on the channel there was no damage to the rest of the body I recognized her testimony from those who did survive will later prove valuable but in the meantime there are countless other clues to pursue coming up next investigators face the grim task of piecing together the mystery we had a catastrophic scene we had millions of airplane parts scattered over a mountainside it takes rescuers half a day to get to the remote spot where Japan Airlines jaeil flight 123 has slammed into a mountain northwest of Tokyo we had millions of airplane parts scattered over a mountainside but the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder as well as witness statements all of these different sources of information help investigators put the puzzle together within days two important clues turn up a photograph taken by an amateur photographer as the plane passed over his village it reveals the plane flying with part of its tail section missing and part of that missing tail section including the vertical fin which keeps the plane stable is fished out of a bay 100 miles away from the mountain was quite a distance from the crash site so they knew it had departed the airplane early so now you begin to ask the question what could cause a decompression control problem you drank the tail strike can occur in one of two phases of flight either on takeoff where the airplane is on the runway and is beginning its initial climb or it can occur on landing where the airplane is in a tail low nose-high attitude either way it’s gonna create some sort of damage the repair of the cracked bulkhead is problematic the structure is so large more than 15 feet across the airplane was originally built around it to make the fix Boeing removes the skin of the airplane around the bulkhead replaces the bulkheads damaged lower half then reinstalls the skin of a plane over it now the trouble to fuse the two bulkhead halves Boeing’s repair calls for a single splice plate or doubler but with the skin of the plane back on the doubler doesn’t fit boeing field reps make the call to cut the piece in half that’s problem number one problem number two the correct procedure calls for two rows of rivets to hold that double are in place only one row is used for 7 years the single row and the split-up panel have been carrying twice the load they should have been they decided to alter the installation procedure it wasn’t an approved procedure the repair is certified to last 10,000 takeoff landing cycles by the day of the crash this particular 747 has already gone more than 12,000 cycles the repair is inspected but because a sealant has been used over the gap in the bulkhead cracks developing between the rivets are not found this plate is a ticking time bomb unfortunately the repair was insufficient and cracks started to develop over the service life after the airplane was returned into passenger use there was no proper inspection procedure as well as jal123 passes through 24,000 feet cracks began to connect between the rivet leading the bulkhead to fail catastrophic ly it’s a structural failure do not too bad airplane design but to a faulty repair and inadequate oversight when we look back at structural failures

how common is it that it’s repair related or maintenance related has to maintain that pains me to say this but I think we’re finding more and more where it’s it’s repair related there were at least two suicides in the wake of this incident a Japan Airlines employee who was working with victims families and an inspection engineer who issued a certificate of airworthiness for the doomed plane after the 1978 tail strike to this day jal123 remains the deadliest single aircraft accident in the history of aviation we’ve seen the disastrous results of airplanes that are not properly repaired maintained or inspected Japan Airlines flight 123 American flight 191 Aloha flight 243 we’ve also seen what could happen when a plane has a design flaw as in the case of United flight 811 but those flights are the exception not the rule every day three billion passengers do land safely I’m asked often what’s the most dangerous part about flying and quite literally it’s the drive to the airport but for those who survive airplane accidents or whose relatives didn’t those kinds of statistics are of little comfort they’ve seen and felt the consequences of structural failure firsthand we have manufacturers that make incredible machines cars elevators airplanes trains and when you get on these elevators in these trains in these airplanes we expect them to work but once that faith in machines is shaken you have this cynical thought you know the question authority bumper-sticker I suggest one core question technology and put it on your suitcase