Re: TAROM A310 accident

From:         kls@ohare.Chicago.COM (Karl Swartz)
Organization: Chicago Software Works, Menlo Park, California
Date:         07 Apr 95 03:09:12 
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>The VR already at Airbus shows a stall from 3600 ft.

Where did you come upon this tidbit?  First I've heard of a stall.
Also, what do you mean by VR -- the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR)?

>TAROM grounded their other two 310 till yesterday ...

>1.- How can they assess safety if they do not have the exact causes of
>    the accident yet?

Assuming you mean this in view of their quick return of the remaining
two A310s to service, they really can't make much of an assesment of
the safety, beyond deciding that the A310 has proven to be a reasonably
safe aircraft and perhaps their decision to ground their remaining ones
was a bit hasty.

>2.- Who is the worst carrier in terms of (# of total lost / #
>    aircrafts built) ? (I could imagine in order of importance:
>    Boeing, Douglas Company, Airbus ?  

You mean airframe manufacturer, right, and not carrier, i.e., airline?
This has come up here a number of times in the past, usually after a
crash.  (See the group archives on

Unfortunately, while a simple answer (# lost / # built) would be
reasonably easy to come up with, it's probably not very meaningful
because aircraft are lost for a number of reasons, quite often not
having any relation to the inherent safety of the airframe.

For example, one 757 has been lost -- a hijacked 737 careened off
a runway and hit it.  Does that count?

Perhaps that's reaching a bit.  How about the rash of early 727
crashes, which eventually proved to be a result of a psychological
phenomenon that caused pilots, under certain VFR night conditions,
to think they were higher than they were, a situation exacerbated
by the then-extraordinary performance of the 727?  Does it make
sense to blame the aircraft for those crashes, or to blame Boeing
for making too good an aircraft and letting pilots inexperienced
with jetliners fly them, or to count those crashes as strikes on
the safety of Boeing's current offerings?

If you look simply at crashes, the 747 probably has a miserable
record.  I could probably come up with half a dozen that have been
destroyed, in most cases taking quite a few people with them, by a
bomb.  Because it's big, hence an appealing target, and flies to
lots of places with security that's perhaps less than it should be,
this isn't too surprising.  Does it count against the safety of the
747 itself?  (For the arbitrary question of whether you stand a
better chance of dying on a 747 than a 757, it undoubted is a real
difference, but for a more reasonable comparison like a 747 vs 757
for, say, SFO to ORD, it's probably insignificant.)

Personally, I try to avoid the DC-10/MD-11 and the A320/A321/A319/
A330/A340 as I feel that features of the aircraft (which really are
just symptoms of the attitudes of their manufacturers) make them less
safe than they could and should be.  In the case of the DC-10, which
has suffered a fair number of losses, I only consider three relevant
to its safety record (along with two prior incidents).  In the case
of the A320, the official crash reports don't really make as solid a
case, but there are some rather suspect circumstances in each and
every one of them.  (At least the A330 crash was pretty difficult to
obfuscate.)  The whole of the circumstances lead me to the same
distrust of Airbus work from the last ten years that I feel for
vintage 1970 MacDAC work.

That doesn't taint some of the other offerings of these companies --
the DC-8 is one of my favorite airliners, and while I've never flown
on an A310 I have been on an A300 which seemed to me to be a perfectly
fine aircraft.

This sort of analysis is unfortunately a lot less clear-cut than some
simple statistics, and the conclusions can lead to some fierce debate.
At least it gives us something to talk about!

Karl Swartz	|INet
1-415/854-3409	|UUCP	uunet!decwrl!ditka!kls
		|Snail	2144 Sand Hill Rd., Menlo Park CA 94025, USA
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