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1970's DC-10 Disasters

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Dylan Webb

on 3 March 2014

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Transcript of 1970's DC-10 Disasters

American Airlines Flight 191 was a regularly scheduled passenger flight from O'Hare International Airport in Chicago to Los Angeles International Airport. The McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10 crashed on May 25, 1979, moments after takeoff from Chicago. All 258 passengers and 13 crew on board were killed, along with two people on the ground. It is the deadliest aviation accident to occur on U.S. soil.
"We didn't see one body intact, just trunks, hands, arms, heads, and parts of legs. And we can't tell whether they were male or female, or whether they were adult or child, because they were all charred."[
"When we first got there, we were told that it was a cargo jet," Farinella recalled. "However, after you were on the scene and you spotted the first body or remains, there was no question that it was a passenger jet. The field was just totally ablaze because of all of the jet fuel. Nothing could prepare you for that."
$1.25
May 25, 1979
Vol XCIII, No. 311
BACKGROUND
American Airlines Flight 191
The Accident
DC-10s Afterward
The Accident Continued
Engine Separation
The flight began its takeoff roll at 3:02 p.m. Everything appeared normal until just after the plane reached takeoff speed, when the number one engine and its pylon assembly that attached it to the wing separated from the aircraft, ripping away a 3-foot (0.91 m) section of the leading edge of the left wing. Both the engine and pylon flipped over the top of the wing and landed on the runway.
In addition to the engine's failure, several related systems failed. The hydraulic systems had also failed due to the fact that an engine had been disconnected from the plane. As a result, the left wing entered a full aerodynamic stall. The plane continued rolling until it finally turned completely upside down and slammed wingtip-first into an open field at a 112-degree bank approximately 4,600 ft from the end of the runway.
Large sections of aircraft debris were hurled by the force of the impact into an adjacent trailer park, destroying five trailers and several cars. Another DC-10 had also crashed into an old aircraft hangar at the former site of Ravenswood Airport that was used for storage located at the edge of the airport. The nearly-full fuel load triggered a massive explosion. Flight 191 was almost completely destroyed, with no significant pieces remaining. The only sizable components left were the landing gear, engines, and tail section.

The crash of another DC-10 in November 1979, Air New Zealand Flight 901, added to the DC-10's negative reputation. The crash of flight 901, an Antarctic sightseeing flight which hit a mountain, was caused by several human and environmental factors not related to the airworthiness of the DC-10, and the aircraft was later completely exonerated in that accident.
The crash of flight 901, an Antarctic sightseeing flight which hit a mountain, was caused by several human and environmental factors not related to the airworthiness of the DC-10, and the aircraft was later completely exonerated in that accident. The 1989 crash of another DC-10, United Airlines Flight 232, restored some of the aircraft's reputation.
A review of the aircraft's flight logs and maintenance records showed that no mechanical discrepancies were noted for May 11, 1979. On the day of the accident, the records had not been removed from the aircraft, as was standard procedure, and they were destroyed in the accident.
Witnesses were in universal agreement that Flight 191 had not struck any foreign objects on the runway and no pieces of the wing or other plane components were found with Engine No. 1, proving that nothing had broken off and hit it. The engine separation thus could only have come from an internal failure. he damage was not enough to cause an immediate failure of the plane though.
Aircraft Records
1970's DC-10 Disasters
Media Reaction
The crash of Flight 191 brought strong criticism from the media regarding the DC-10's safety and design. The DC-10 had been involved in two accidents related to the design of its cargo doors, American Airlines Flight 96 and Turkish Airlines Flight 981. The final blow to the airplane's reputation was dealt two weeks after the crash, when the aircraft was grounded by the FAA. Although the aircraft itself would later be exonerated, the damage in the public's eye was already done.
A picture of Flight-191
Crash Site
In response to this accident, American Airlines was fined $500,000 by the United States government for improper maintenance procedures.
"I can remember planes still taking off and banking through the column of smoke," he said. "You hoped that there were people that you could save, but it quickly became evident that there were not. It was just devastation. You knew there were hundreds of people (dead)."
Sources
Taylor, Troy (2003). "Lingering Sprits of Flight 191". prairieghosts.com.
"Special Report: American Airlines Flight 191". AirDisaster.com. Archived from the original on July 21, 2006.
"Aircraft Accident: DC. 10 ZK-NZP Flight 901". New Zealand Disasters. Christchurch City Libraries. Archived from the original on July 8, 2011.
https://www.dailyherald.com/article/20111014/news/710149919/
"Accident Photo: American 191". AirDisaster.Com.
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