Aviation Crashes: Delta 191 Research Paper

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[. . .] "Unfortunately, shortly after McCarthy performed preliminary tests that proved this, another aircraft went down because of a microburst. On July 9, 1982, a Pan American 727 crashed near New Orleans, killing 145 people on the plane and eight on the ground" (Philips, 2005). This tragedy did provoke action, though it wasn't the right type of action and it was also very ineffective: ground sensors were installed around airports in major metropolitan centers but they weren't successful as they were not fast enough to pick up on the more rapid changes of weather: in fact one sensor issued a wind-warning in 1985, but this warning came just a few second after the plane had crashed (Philips, 2005). Thus, it's all too clear that the crash was more than avoidable; with a proper commitment to evolving research and technology, the crash didn't have to happen at all.

However, the minds of science and aviation at the time, were not ready to accept the notion of either this strange phenomenon in weather, nor the idea that there was a strong necessity for a change in practice.

Eventually however, in this case the urgency which sparked the winds of change in the field were really only as a result of a strange coincidence: weeks before the Delta crash a local news crew went to the meteorology lab in the Denver airport; during this time a massive microburst struck far from the airport, but it could be very visibly seen as a result of dust, and other particle which were caught up in it. (Philips, 2005). The cameraman, taking several minutes of footage of what was considered a bizarre phenomenon at the time, asked the correspondent what would occur if an airliner flew through the microburst; the meteorologist McCarthy replied "Very likely the plane would crash" (Philips, 2005). Thus, when the Delta 191 crashed at Dallas-Fort Worth, the news station new exactly what the significance of their film footage was: thus, they were the one news station that was able to show the dramatic and elusive footage of what had in fact caused the crash.

Recommendations for Delta Flight 191

One of the most basic things that this flight crew could have engaged in is the simplest and most tried and true aspects of what to do in severe weather: practice extreme and absolute avoidance. That day thunderstorms were in the area of approach of the runway and a thunderstorm shaft was in the direct path of approach. The crew should have practiced immediate and absolute avoidance: proceeding forward through this weather was the biggest mistake that they made.

However, because there was so much evidence post-crash, professionals in the field of aviation were able to learn tremendous amounts about how the crash could have been avoided and impose clearer changes and Recommendations regarding safer and more effective procedures.

Better wind detection would have been an ideal solution for Delta Flight 191 and all subsequent flights of that decade. Today, American aviation still admits to its powerlessness over the weather, but what it has been able to adapt to is the fact that it can better predict the weather through precision forecasting instruments. Precision forecasting instruments would have been ideal in preventing this particular accident. This type of instrumentation can view the churnings that can lead to wind shear and microbursts via sophisticated systems that alert crew members to hazardous winds and comparable areas of danger. While Dallas Fort Worth airport now has the greatest and latest instruments today regarding weather forecasting and the detection of wind shears with 18 wind shear detection towers and two large Doppler radar arrays (Torbenson, 2010). The subsequent batch of air traffic control technology involves a range of projects which are driven to give even more intensively dimension forecasting so that airlines, air traffic controllers and pilots are able to engage in better decision making when it comes to inclement weather (Torbenson, 2010). The technology which is developing now is simply just vastly superior to the technology that was available in the mid-1980s when this crash occurred.

Technology today needs to better focus on time, through a network which updates faster and which is more accurately able to provide guidance for problems. The technology of the mid-1980s just wasn't able to allow pilots the ability to navigate through lines of storms; operations back then were simply less safe, which meant that more caution needed to be employed.

USAir Flight 1016 Causes

USAir Flight was a crash that was absolutely avoidable, like so many others. The media generally views this crash as the result of a series of errors which could have been prevented. However, this does not offer a comprehensive view of the realities of the crash. The blunders of this crash were of a specific variety: communication. Essentially, U.S. Air 1016 is a flight which crashed as a result of the fact that communication broke down when it was needed most and that the pilots were not provided with essential information that they absolutely needed to know. "The National Transportation Safety Board concluded today that USAir Flight 1016 crashed in Charlotte, N.C., last July 2 because air traffic controllers failed to pass along crucial weather information, the crew failed to recognize signs of wind shear and at the crucial moment the captain, apparently disoriented, told his first officer to push the nose of the plane down when the aircraft should have been climbing" (Wald, 1995). An unnecessary and completely preventable breakdown in communication is something which was the sole and utter cause of the crash.

Once the aviation safety board examined the wealth of evidence for why the crash occurred, it became all to shocking just how much weather information was available on the ground and in the air-traffic control tower, but which was not disseminated to the cockpit for unknown reasons. One example of this was that a departing plane had radioed the tower that there was a storm directly over the airport; a ramp in the USAir arena had been evacuated because of lightning and there was severe weather which showed up on the radar of air traffic control in the tower (Wald, 1995). The truly scathing fact is that none of these issues were ever communicated to flight USAir 1016 (Wald, 1995).

Upon examination of the plane's black box, it becomes apparent that the pilots simply do not hear a wind shear warning for all parts of the airport: however, this is not their fault. The warning was not blast over their radio frequency (Powell, 1994). Looking at the radar data retrospectively, it becomes apparent that the crew is flying directly into a sudden and aggressive thunderstorm that they only become aware of once they're in it. At: 27 seconds into the blackbox recording, a wall of water knocks against the plane, "the pilots decide to abort the landing, because they can no longer see the runway. They steer the plane to the right, despite instructions from the tower to fly straight and climb to 3,000 feet. 4): 15 The plane climbs as the pilots pull the plane's nose up and push the throttles to full power -- a standard procedure" (Powell, 1994).

However, because the pilots have not been given the most up-to-date intelligence about the weather outside, and don't know that they're dealing with wind shears, the pilots then engaged in an unorthodox maneuver which would have been acceptable in other circumstances but not with this specific type of weather phenomenon. The nose of the plane was dipped back down, presumably in an attempt to build up more speed and power. It was during this maneuver that the plane just dropped, breaking into several pieces upon hitting the ground (Powell, 1994). Thus, while the finale maneuver that the pilots did was unsuitable in this situation, the fault does not rest with the pilots for doing this, but with air traffic control.

Recommendations for USAir 1016

The recommendations for how this crash could have been avoided are simple: there needs to be another layer of protective communication between air traffic control and the pilots of every aircraft (Leavitt, 2011). This is largely because there are already codes and regulations in place to ensure that the two are in constant communication: there needs to be yet another facet of communication, for the thorough and complete relaying of information about weather conditions. Thus, radioing the information and all forms of clearance are important, but should not be the only means of dialogue between aircraft and air traffic control (FSF, 1996). There need to be measures in place for a supportive and alternative means of receiving weather information -- information which may or may not corroborate what the pilots already see. In the case of this crash, the pilots had already spotted the inclement weather condition on their own radar; they proceeded because they were given clearance… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Aviation Crashes: Delta 191.  (2014, February 17).  Retrieved February 22, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/aviation-crashes-delta-191/3639979

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