Plane Nose Dives From Break

From:         kls@ohare.Chicago.COM (Karl Swartz)
Date:         07 Jul 94 00:13:05 
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[The following is reposted with permission from ClariNet.  See end of
message for details on ClariNet.  Karl]

	WASHINGTON (AP) -- An attempt to bring coffee and soft drinks
into the cockpit of an airliner led to a three-second nose dive and
a wrenching recovery that injured 17 passengers, a transportation
safety official said Saturday.
	The incident over Jamaica on Thursday may give the government a
new incentive to impose rules requiring passengers to keep safety
belts fastened when they are in their seats.
	One unbelted but seated passenger ruptured his spleen after
apparently hitting the ceiling of the McDonnell Douglas MD-11, said
Alan Pollock, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety
Board. The man's wife, seated next to him on American Airlines
Flight 901, had her belt in place and was not hurt, Pollock said.
	The jetliner, carrying 80 passengers, was en route from Miami to
Buenos Aires, Argentina, when it suddenly went into the dive.
Although American Airlines at first reported that turbulence caused
the incident, safety board investigators who interviewed crew
members found another explanation.
	According to the safety board, the aircraft was being piloted by
a reserve first officer while the captain was on a regular break,
having dinner in the passenger compartment.
	The regular first officer seated on the right side of the
	About an hour and 20 minutes into the trip, a flight attendant
tried to place a box holding refreshments on the foot rest of the
jump seat behind the first officer, Pollock said.
	The seat was too far back for the box to fit and the reserve
first officer reached for the latch to move the seat forward.
	The seat advanced sharply, pushing the first officer into the
control column. That automatically disengaged the automatic pilot
and ``they went into a nose-down dive,'' Pollock said.
	Food flew across the cabin, two overhead luggage compartments
popped open and passengers were thrown about.
	``The crew did a good job of recovery,'' stabilized the plane
after about 17 seconds and returned to Miami, Pollock said.
	``There were only minor injuries except for the passenger with
the damaged spleen; he is in the hospital in Miami,'' Pollock said.
	Pollock said the safety board has been considering whether to
require passengers to wear their safety belts whenever they are
seated, not just during takeoff and landing.

"Copyright 1994 by Reuters.
Reposted with permission from the ClariNet Electronic Newspaper newsgroup  For more info on ClariNet, write to or phone 1-800-USE-NETS."