Research Paper: Airplane Crash Investigations Accident

Pages: 5 (2442 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Transportation  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] About 10 min. after the plane crash, the initial fire that engulfed the cabin was controlled enough to start looking for survivors.

However in Oregon, accessibility was more difficult. The plan crashed in a wooded residential area. The reports indicate that "the plane crashed in the jurisdiction of Multnomah County Rural Fire Protection District No. 10" (Air Disasters, 2013). Moreover, there was also no post crash fire, which made the recovery of survivors much easier for first responders. Still, "Three fire departments sent personnel and equipment to the scene: The Port of Portland (Airport) Fire Department; Multnomah RFPD No. 10, and the City of Portland Fire Bureau. A total of 39 fire units and 108 on-duty fire personnel responded to the scene" (Air Disasters, 2013). There were no communication problems, as seen in the Dallas flight as well. Yet, United Flight 173 did not have the delay issues that the Dallas flight had, despite the crash's further proximity from the airport

In the case of the Dallas flight, there are some questionable elements about the investigation's conclusions. At the time period of the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board has declared that the flight went down primarily because of pilot error. They claimed that the pilot should have avoided the weather cell and chosen to fly out of the thunderstorm rather than to try to land. Despite "the lack of training cited by the NTSB, this crew really did a great job. There isn't much to wind shear escape other than applying max thrust and pitching for best climb" (Flannigan, 2010). In reality, it was the unusual weather and the microburst wind shear that really brought the plane down, and the crew had done what they believed was best time. Reports show that the "crew members saw the storm while approaching D/FW but remained mostly unalarmed, according to transcripts of their on-board conversations recovered by flight recorders" (Dickson, 2010). In fact, the crew had very little time to react, and only seconds to try to keep the plane in the air after hitting the microburst and wind shear. Additionally, the NTSB did prove to have some mistakes of their own. Unfortunately, the organization took too long to notify local emergency services. The initial response was confused and scattered with a variety of first responders. It took over 10 min. For the DFW Department of Public safety Communications Center to actually notify first responders, and do not get all important team members on board until nearly 45 min. after the crash. The response was confused, with ambulances not been requested in a timely manner out of the local municipalities. In fact, the local city of Hearst responded on its own without communication services because the local ambulance service had overheard the crash report on the radio. Thus, clearly the NTSB was slow to react to the situation.

The investigation at the Oregon flight was very thorough. In the end, "the National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the accident was the failure of the captain to monitor properly the aircraft's fuel state and to properly respond to the low fuel state and the crewmember's advisories regarding fuel state. This resulted in fuel exhaustion to all engines. His inattention resulted from preoccupation with a landing gear malfunction and preparations for a possible landing emergency" (Air Disasters, 2013). A thorough investigation of the level of fuel being consumed by the plane was conducted. Apparently, United Airlines claimed that the pilot was just following the organizational procedure regarding fuel consumption. Yet "throughout the landing delay, Flight 173 remained at 5,000 ft with landing gear down and flaps set at 15 deg. Under these conditions, the Safety Board estimated that the flight would have been burning fuel at the rate of about 13,209 lbs per hour -- 220 lbs per min." (Air Disasters, 2013). As such, after a very thorough and detailed examination of fuel consumption of the plane, it was declared user error that caused the crash. Thus, "in October 1978, fuel burn off examination indicated that the aircraft was not consuming fuel as fast as predicted; it was 1.04% less than predicted" (Air Disasters, 2013).

The Dallas Flight also had lasting impacts on flight strategies for years to come. Here the research suggests that "the crash rewrote the book on how pilots and others in the aviation industry cope with wind shear and other weather phenomena" (Dickson, 2010). Both microburst and wind shears are now taken much more seriously, especially in regards to the angle of which a plane is entering them in defense for landing. If one good thing came out of this crash, "Delta 191 educated the entire global aviation community about the danger of thunderstorms and wind shear in a way no other incident had before" (Dickson, 2010). The crash showed the intensity of microbursts and how dangerous they can be for incoming landing planes. Unfortunately, "the chilling truth about Delta Flight 191 is that sometimes you just don't have enough power to get out of it -- and that's not a comforting thought. As with most weather-related issues, the best strategy is avoidance" (Flannigan, 2010).

The Oregon Flight has also taught the aviation industry a number of lessons. After the thorough investigation of this flight, traditional standard started "abandoning the traditional 'the captain is god' airline hierarchy, CRM emphasized teamwork and communication among the crew, and has since become the industry standard" (Noland, 2012). This gave crew members much more power in regards to critical decisions during flights.

References

Air Disasters. (2013). Investigation United Airlines Flight 173. Investigations. Web. http://www.airdisaster.com/investigations/ua173.shtml

Dickson, Gordon. (2010). After 25 years,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Airplane Crash Investigations Accident."  Essaytown.com.  February 8, 2014.  Accessed August 22, 2019.
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