Re: safest airframes ?

From:         kls@ohare.Chicago.COM (Karl Swartz)
Organization: Chicago Software Works, Menlo Park, California
Date:         31 Aug 94 14:59:35 
References:   1 2 3
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>The first generation DC-9 also has the conspicuous absence of leading
>edge slats which may have been on of the leading cause of the Air
>Florida DC-9 accident at Washington Nat'l Arpt.

Not likely, since the Air Florida crash at DCA was a 737-222.

However, an early Continental DC-9 crashed in Denver a few years ago
and the lack of leading edge slats was cited as a factor.  (I believe
this crash occurred on November 15, 1987, unless CO lost another DC-9
at Denver which I'm unaware of.)

>American DC-10 accident at Chicago O'Hare (lost engine and hydraulics,
>read the minutes of the Congressional hearings).  The plane could have
>been saved.

...

>My point is that many accidents could be avoided if all involved were
>properly educated.  Maybe this discussion should be on the safest
>airframe/operator combination.

I suppose you could argue that proper education of the maintenace
folks could have saved AA 191, but maintenance irregularities lead
to engine separation incidents with other airframes without losing
the aircraft and all aboard.  While the safety of a given operator
is clearly a significant factor (hence ETOPS certification depends
on the airline as well as the airframe/engine combo), it remains a
fact that errors occur.  A design that cannot tolerate some degree
of error is, IMO, a (relatively) unsafe design.

The DC-10 exhibited this in all three of its noteworthy crashes --
THY 981 went down at Paris because a ramp worker didn't properly
close a cargo door (and AA 96 at Windsor nearly suffered the same
fate), AA 191 went down at Chicago because maintenance folks used
improper procedures to remove the engine and pylon, and UA 232 went
down at Sioux City in part because of "inadequate consideration given
to human factors limitations in the inspection and quality control
procedures used by United Airlines' engine overhaul facility."

Robert Dorsett has noted that one of the worrisome features of the
A320 crashes has been that at least half have involved airlines that
are well-respected for their quality of operations.  Having a third-
world operator or start-up charter outfit lose an aircraft is one
thing, but an airline like Lufthansa or Air France is quite another.
American and United are not exactly noted for being sloppy about
maintenance and training either, yet they managed to lose DC-10s in
rather spectacular fashion.

The operator is worth considering, but when several aircraft of a
given type are lost by the best operators, it seems time to question
the airframe itself.

--
Karl Swartz	|INet	kls@ohare.chicago.com
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