Crashes That Changed Aviation
The Top 10 Historically Altering Aviation Crashes
There is no such thing as a failure, you either achieve your goal or learn from your mistake. Below you will find the top 10 historically altering aviation crashes - out of these tragic events major technological advances in flight safety have arose that keep air travel safe today.
TWA Flight 2 & United Airlines Flight 718 - Grand Canyon
This accident triggered a two hundred and fifty million upgrade in air traffic control. The upgrade has proven to be successful as there has not been a collision between the two airlines in over forty seven years. This epic travesty also sparked the 1958 creation of the Federal Aviation Administration to regulate air safety.
United Airlines Flight 173 - Portland
Flight 173 approach its Portland, Oregon destination with one hundred and eighty one passengers aboard. The plane circled the airport for over one hour trying to clear a landing gear issue. Even though the captain was notified of the diminishing fuel supply, he instructed the engineer onboard to continue maintenance. Unfortunately, the aircraft was in flight far too long and ran out of fuel - resulting in a suburb crash, killing 10. Thus, United Airlines reevaluated its cockpit training procedures and developed a new Cockpit Resource Management emphasizing teamwork and communication among captian and crew as equals.
Air Canada Flight 797 - Cincinnati
Air Canada Flight 797 knew it was in trouble when wisps of smoke began wafting out of the rear lavatory when flying at 33,000ft en route from Dallas to Toronto. Sadly, within minutes black smoke began to fill the entire cabin including the cockpit. Despite the captain’s effort to successfully land in Cincinnati, 23 of the 46 passengers still died due to a flash fire eruption that took place before the flight was able to be fully evacuated. Subsequently, the FAA mandated that all aircraft bathrooms be fully equipped with fire extinguishers as well as smoke detectors. This lead to all jetliners being retrofitted with fire blocking seat cushions, and adequate floor lighting to show the way of evacuation to passengers during dense smoke or situations of impaired vision.
Delta Air Lines Flight 191 - Dallas
Delta Flight 191 was in troubling waters as it approached its Dallas destination with a thunderstorm lurking nearby the runway. Regrettably, the jetliner caught a microburst wind shear which caused an abrupt air shift losing the plane 54 knots of airspeed within a few seconds. Thus, the jetliner hit the ground one mile short of the runway, tossing it across the highway killing one civilian driver. The aircraft ended up in a collision with two airport water towers taking the lives of 134 of the 163 passengers aboard. As a result, the NASA/FAA conducted a 7 year research effort based on a forward looking radar wind-shear detector. This technology became standard on all airliners crafted during the 1990s and so on. Only one single wind - shear related accident has taken place since.
Aeromexico Flight 498 - Los Angeles
At the time, the ATC system did an exceptional job of separating airliners in order to avoid potential collisions. However, it did not account for smaller private planes, such as the four-seat Piper Archer that found its way to the L.A. terminal on August 31st, 1986. Unluckily, the Piper went undetected by ground controllers and collided with an Aeromexico DC-9. The crash blew off the DC’s left horizontal stabilizer causing both planes to plummet into a nearby residential neighbourhood. The accidental crash killed 82 innocent people including 15 ground civilians. Thus, the FAA implemented a small aircraft transponder standard for those entering into control areas. Transponders utilize electronic technology to broadcast altitude and position to controllers. Plus, airliners are now required to host TCA II collision avoidance systems that detect potential collisions with other transponder aircrafts nearby - causing aircrafts to raise in altitude or dive further down in order to fully avoid any accidents that may arise. There have been no private and commercial plane collisions in the United States since the implementation.
Aloha Airlines Flight 243 - Maui
The 19 year old aircraft transferring Aloha Flight 243 from Hilo, Hawaii to Honolulu, Hawaii lost its fuselage section of the plane when leveling off at 24,000 ft. Passengers rode in open air long enough for the pilot to safely land the aircraft. Sadly, one flight attendant was swept off the aircraft to their death during descent. The NTSB found that a combination of corrosion, fatigue damage, and 89,000 repeat flight pressurization cycles caused the aircraft’s wreckage. Thus, the FAA created the 1991 National Aging Aircraft Research Program. The program standardized routine inspection and maintenance of highly cycled aircrafts. There has only been one American Fatigue related commercial accident since implementation.
U.S. Air Flight 427 - Pittsburgh
As the U.S. Air Flight 427 began its descent into Pittsburgh the craft suddenly began to roll to the left and dropped 5,000 feet to the death of all aboard. The plane's rudder had abruptly shifted to the full left position causing the plan to roll continuously. For five years the NTSB did not know if the plane or the crew was to blame but eventually the inspection drew its conclusion upon a jammed valve in the rudder control system thrusting the rudder into a full reverse. Boeing spent five hundred million to retrofit each of the 2,800 jetliners in its fleet as a result. Congress also passed the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act transferring all services dealing with survivors of the deceased onto the NTSB.
ValuJet Flight 592 - Miami
Although, the FAA took precautions to install cabin fire safety measures in lavatories due to the 1983 Air Canada Accident - they did not account for the aircrafts’ cargo compartments. Unfortunately, the ValuJet 592 plummeted to it demise near Miami into the surrounding everglades one fateful afternoon. The flight’s fire was attributed to a chemical oxygen generator that was illegally brought onboard by SabreTech, the aircraft’s contactor for maintenance. One bump set off the chemical and the heated pressure ended up causing a fire. The flight could not be landed, killing all 110 people aboard. The FAA responded by setting a mandate for all cargo holds in commercial airliners to be fully equipped with fire extinguishers and smoke detectors. It also put the rule against carrying hazardous cargo onto an aircraft in motion.
TWA Flight 800 - Long Island
The TWA Flight 800 left JFK en route to Paris supposedly blowing up in mid air for no apparent reason, killing all 230 passengers aboard. This wreckage caused great controversy. After extensive research the NTSB concluded that the explosion was caused by an empty fuel tank igniting in the center wing after a short circuit in a nearby wire bundle sparking in the fuel gauge sensor. Thus, the FAA mandated changes to avoid faulty wiring among other issues. Boeing has since developed a fuel inerting system that reduces the chance of explosion by regularly injecting fuel tanks with nitrogen gas. Each Boeing plane built from 2008 and on all are implemented with the new precautionary system.
Swissair Flight 111 - Nova Scotia
One hour after takeoff the pilots of the Swissair Flight 111 smelt smoke coming from the cockpit. Approximately four minutes later they began a descent into Halifax, Nova Scotia. The aircraft was around sixty five miles away when the fire began to spread causing the cockpit instruments to fail. The plane ended up crashing into the Atlantic ocean only five miles off of Nova Scotia’s coastline, killing all 229 people aboard. Investigators concluded that the fire was caused by vulnerable kapton wires in the cockpit from a recent in flight entertainment installation. The fire spread wildly along the Mylar fuselage’s highly flammable insulation. The FAA immediately ordered each one of the 700 McDonnell Douglas Jets with Mylar insulation to be retrofitted with all fire resistant insulation material.