File Size: 4872 KB
Print Length: 240 pages
Publisher: Smithsonian Books (October 3, 2017)
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
The same accident had happened on an American Airlines DC10 in 1972, on a flight which had just taken off from Detroit, heading to Buffalo. The pilots felt a bang, part of the passenger floor collapsed, severing the hydraulics, and the plane was almost uncontrollable. Luckily, the flight's chief, wary about the DC10, had taken extra instructions in how to fly an uncontrolled plane, and and the copilot, could actually steer the plane and make a managed crash landing at Detroit. Zero one was killed that day, but the FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION looked at what got caused the incident. These people found that the backside cargo door was not always locking and there was very little way to ascertain from the outside if the baggage handlers had the door latch in place. The FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION made several ideas to the maker of the aircraft - McDonnell Douglas - as well as to the carriers who already had purchased the aircraft, as to how to fix the latch system. Because of... politics, or corporate worry about the costs of the improvements, or sheer incompetence, many of the " suggestions" were not implemented on some of the aeroplanes. On plane #29, which crashed in March, mid 1970s, the lack of repairing the problems with the doorway and the vents resulted in the deaths of 346 people.
In addition to looking at the two failures owing to the cargo doorway problems, Chittum writes about two other fatal failures of DC10's. One was in Chicago in lates 1970s - Memorial Day weekend - when American #191, departing on a routine flight to Los Angeles, crashed into a field at the airport, eradicating all 271 passengers and crew members, plus two people on the floor. The situation was not the cargo door; rather, the left wing engine dropped off during take off, sending the plane into the field. (This particular crash was important to me because I was a corporate travel agent in Chicago and often got clients on that flight - " the mid-afternoon American to LAX", though thank god, none on the flight that day. ) Chittum also looks at the United DC10 crash landing at the Sioux City airport in 1989, which resulted from the " catastrophic disappointment of the tail engine". Many passengers made it out of the aircraft alive, but 111 died.
Samme Chittum has written a fairly short book about a plane - the DC10 - which was both badly built - " a plane put together by committee" - and further suffered in an atmosphere of locker corporate compliance with the government agencies charged with keeping the flying general public in the safest machines possible. The DC10 flew its last passenger flight in 2014. It is now flying only cargo., When Greed and Hubris Collide - a 5 star book if you are a fan of this type of story.
“'Don’t be concerned, when your number’s up, your number’s up. ' As so many of us have said in our lives. And, naturally , that doesn’t hit home until it finally actually happens. ”
In case you are fascinated by TV shows like “Why Planes Crash” or similar investigative series, you really should enjoy this book!
On January thirteen, 1967, McDonnell Aircraft and Douglas Aircraft Company merged to compete in the growing passenger flights market. The big manufactures vied for commercial jet at that moment orders as the flight boom of the 60s continued to grow. Promises for speedy delivery were dealmakers industry when, “the stage was set for the next great air race” and as air carriers were seeking alternatives to Boeing’s 747. But speed and greed can guide to terrible mistakes as this book so appropriately portrays.
In a dash to beat the competition (Lockheed and Tri-Star), MDC thrown out the DC-10; a wide-bodied wonder that guide the way to modern flights. The stakes were high and keeping the newly-merged McDonnell Douglas Assistance in the black was paramount. Weight mattered, and the lighter the aircraft, the higher the profits. Every pound equated to a dollar sign.
Undoubtedly, this lead to the cost-cutting measures that condemned Flight 981. Events leading up to the crash reflect exhaustive research and delivers a intriguing tale of human tragedy. It may be hard to imagine the terror the passengers felt as the depressurizing jet dropped from the sky, but the author creates a verbally gripping scene in those final moments. With regard to those with weak stomachs, the chapter describing the crash site may well not be for you. The vividity of the author’s words are absorbing and sickening simultaneously. Pieces of folks and their lives are literally thrown across a forest valley in France; a legs to the carnage and consequence of an accident holding out to happen.
The publication is not only about an airplane crash. It is a scary reality check about deregulation, backdoor deals, and company greed. It also created hubris at its worst with the company and staff unwilling to admit disappointment. Industry experts had sounded the alarms, a presage to the disaster. Yet instead of acknowledging a major design flaw in the cargo door that warranted immediate grounding of all DC-10s, peepholes and bandaids turned a fixable problem into a ticking time bomb. Profits supplanted security, leading to catastrophic disappointment.
The stories of the victims, their families, and the investigative reporting bring a poignant side to the story. The apathetic reactions of those who were complicit in the cover-ups concerning the aircraft’s integrity are anger causing but not overly surprising. Precisely what is surprising is how the DC-10 carried on for years after the ill-fated Flight 981.
Yet what really makes this book shine is the ability to be technical and informative without having to be heavy-handed and verbose. The technical side mixed with some aviation history provides a textural component, illustrating the rapidity of air travel advancements over a relatively short period of time. That is a book that held me spellbound without getting caught on the science. This kind of details were seamless and part of the intriguing narrative.
With the supply of any fascinating backstory behind the achievements of architectural marvels Donald Douglas and Raymond McDonnell, the tale is also about ingenuity and the American dream. Their contributions to the aviation industry included the F-4 Phantom II and the Douglas DC-3. McDonnell was known for building supersonic jets for the armed service in the 1960s (F-4 Phantom II) and Douglas built reliable carriers that changed aviation in the 1930s-40s (Douglas DC-3). Both of these prodigious forces were industry leaders in their day. But their company would be put to the test throughout the 70s and 80s.
The last chapter of Flight 981 touches on subsequent plane tragedies including the infamous United Air carriers Flight 232 (DC10-10) that crash-landed in Sioux Town in 1989 and finally became a Hollywood movie in 1992.
It’s a compelling story that's hard to deposit, and I highly recommend it.
~Kort, This book might have you considering twice before you get on a plane again. It takes a hard take a look at plane disasters where the hydraulics have packed, and miraculously pilots have landed a plane properly with a gaping gap in the underside and more expectedly a similar aircraft has been lost with no survivors. The author, Samme Chittum, goes into details discussing air tragedies and near misses and the talk is interesting, particularly when you have zero knowledge of aeronautics. Some things may go over your mind if you get lost but if you can concentrate and are serious, this is technically interesting stuff.
Merely me, but I like anything that puts devastation under a microscope like the Titanic. However, it is rare that lives are saved. Interesting read for the somewhat curious and morbid. Am i not referring to me? Yes, I guess so.
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