Re: B-757 Almost Off a Cliff

Date:         26 Apr 98 03:44:29 
From:         faurecm@halcyon.com (C. Marin Faure)
Organization: NorthWest Nexus Inc.
References:   1
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In article <airliners.1998.635@ohare.Chicago.COM>, digitalel@aol.com
(Digital El) wrote:

> A US Airways Boeing 757 nearly rolled off a waiting area near runway 28R
> at PIT on Wednesday, 15 April. Apparently, the waiting area is slightly
> banked and the plane started to roll backwards--towards a 20-foot drop
> and onto a roadway below. The crew reported faulty brakes following the
> incident. Home video from a passenger shows the main gear just a few
> feet from cliff's edge.
>
> My question: What is likely to have happened, had the plane fallen some
> 20-feet? Casualties? Explosion? ...or did perhaps the local news blow
> the incident out of proportion (as usual)? Could an airframe withstand
> such an unpredictable beating?

Jetliners have experienced far worse things than this and have been
rebuilt to fly another day.  Airframes are very, very strong.  That's not
to say there would have been no damage; there probably would have been a
fair amount, but Boeing's AOG (Aircraft-On-Ground) teams have performed
some amazing feats over the years.  747s that have skidded off the end of
runways and been torn apart have been rebuilt.  I have seen numerous films
and videos here at Boeing of airplanes that have suffered all manner of
damage on the ground and have been repaired in an amazingly short amount
of time.  Boeing has preassembled and crated tool and parts kits
strategically stored throughout the company and overseas in readiness for
an incident of the type you described.  Specialists in every aspect of
airplane construction and repair are identified as AOG team members, and
can be pulled off the assembly lines and flown to the site of an accident
within hours.  So if the 757 you describe had in fact fallen down the
embankment, the chances are pretty good it would have been back in service
in a matter of weeks.

C. Marin Faure
  author, Flying A Floatplane