ValuJet flight 592 (DC-9-32) crash near Miami on Saturday, May 11

From:         kls@ohare.Chicago.COM (Karl Swartz)
Organization: Chicago Software Works, Menlo Park, California
Date:         13 May 96 02:08:45 
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As many readers probably already know, a ValuJet DC-9 crashed last
Saturday (May 11) in the Florida Everglades, a few miles northwest
of Miami International Airport.  Flight 592 departed MIA at 205p,
about an hour late, for a 1:55 flight to ATL.  Eight minutes after
takeoff, at an altitude of about 10,500 ft, the pilots reported
smoke in the cockpit and cabin; they attempted to return to MIA but
the plane crashed about twenty minutes after takeoff.  The location
was not far from the site of the December, 1972 Eastern Airlines
L-1011 crash.

There were several witnesses to the crash, two fishermen and a GA
pilot.  The pilot at first thought someone was doing aerobatics,
a "lazy eight" manouver.  (Could someone describe this, or better
yet, point us to a figure on the WWW?)  He then realized the plane
was not a small plane, and shortly thereafter saw it roll to the
right and then dive into the swamp, impacting at about a 75 degree
nose-down pitch.

Flight 592 carried 104 passengers and 5 crew.  As of late Sunday,
rescue workers have given up hope of finding any of them alive and
are now focusing on recovering the flight recorders and other parts
of the plane which may help in determining the cause of the crash.
(There is about 4-5 feet of water at the crash site, with a thick
layer of mud below that.  Visibility in the water is reportedly
about two *inches* so the initial search is being done by feel, at
least until the Navy brings in some special sonar and other equip-
ment.  To make matters even worse, the area is also infested with
aligators and poisonous snakes.)

The aircraft was a DC-9-32, registration N904VJ and serial number
47377.  The 496th aircraft off the DC-9 line, it was originally
delivered to Delta as N1281L on May 27, 1969, and was acquired by
ValuJet in December, 1993, the four member of ValuJet's fleet.
Since 1994, it reportedly had to return to the departure airport
on seven occasions due to what the media claims were "safety"
problems.  That sounds a bit on the high side but I'm guessing at
that -- would a couple of readers with airliner maintenance
experience care to comment?

One lawyer is already claiming it had to be pilot error, even if
the cockpit was filled with smoke.  Please, folks, let's leave the
wild speculation to the lawyers.  It may be days or months before
the NTSB has any official comment on the cause of the crash, and
until they have something to say, random posts asking what caused
the crash will be summarily rejected.

--
Karl Swartz	|Home	kls@chicago.com
		|Work	kls@slac.stanford.edu
		|WWW	http://www.chicago.com/~kls/
Moderator of sci.aeronautics.airliners -- Unix/network work pays the bills