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Wings Break Off During Flight?  
User currently offlineAirlinespotter From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 162 posts, RR: 0
Posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 33050 times:

I didn't not realize that one or both wings of an airplane could break off while it is in the air. I saw this on YouTube and I was shock. It was an incredible event to see. Does this ever happen to a commercial aircraft?

50 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offline413x3 From United States of America, joined Jul 2008, 1983 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 33030 times:

Anythings possible but the likelihood of that happening is very very very small. That would have to be some once in a lifetime turbulence

User currently offlinePanHAM From Germany, joined May 2005, 9269 posts, RR: 29
Reply 2, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 32956 times:



Quoting 413x3 (Reply 1):
That would have to be some once in a lifetime turbulence

certainly for those on board ......

Which clip did you see, that old Hercules fire fighting aircraft which crashed in California some years ago?



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User currently offlineAirlinespotter From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 162 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 32901 times:



Quoting PanHAM (Reply 2):
Which clip did you see, that old Hercules fire fighting aircraft which crashed in California some years ago?

I think so. There is another clip of a small plane at an airshow also broke a wing during flight.


User currently offlineBeeweel15 From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 1749 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 32837 times:



Quoting Airlinespotter (Reply 3):

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 2):
Which clip did you see, that old Hercules fire fighting aircraft which crashed in California some years ago?

I think so. There is another clip of a small plane at an airshow also broke a wing during flight.

Was this the clip

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7kr6o1s9sI


User currently offlineChuchoteur From France, joined Sep 2006, 763 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 32805 times:

There's a fake video on youtube of an aerobatic a/c snapping a wing, and the pilot landing it by hanging off the engine...

User currently offlineMurchmo From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 166 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 32739 times:

I've seen this video. Its really terrible, but with the way the wind moves on different sides of mountains there can be these updrafts. With the extreme flying they do on fire drops this is a terrible scenario.

This is virtually impossible for all comercial airliners. They design the wings to undergo extreme stress and test them to the breaking point. Very rare a comercial flight would encounter such turbulence.

This (most often)only happens with old aircraft. They actually will ground aircraft if the wing has undergone a certain amount of hours. There was some controversy with one of RedBulls old airplanes they were flying. IIRC a goverment wanted to ground it but redbull claimed it was airworthy. I forget the whole story.

Ya, not completely impossible, but highly improbable.



to strive to seek to find and not to yield
User currently onlineMEA-707 From Netherlands, joined Nov 1999, 4311 posts, RR: 36
Reply 7, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 32662 times:

Some commercial incidents with wings breaking off I can remember;
Dec 2005, a Grumman Mallard crashed off Miami. It was found out they didn't maintain the aircraft well, no proper control of salty areas and corrosion
1966, a BOAC 707 broke up inflight in Japan, and in 1981, an NLM Cityhopper Fellowship had a wing snapped off after take off. Current better weather radar would probably prevent an aircraft entering this sort of hurricane in the first place and repeat this accidents.



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User currently offlineBCAL From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2004, 3384 posts, RR: 16
Reply 8, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 32651 times:

Did it not happen to the BOAC 707-436 that was brought down by severe turbulence and a gust load considerably in excess of the design limit shortly after take off from HND on a scheduled service from SFO-HKG via HNL and HND on March 5, 1966? I am sure that somewhere I have seen a picture of the aircraft plumetting to the ground with wings broken off. During take off from HND, the 707 passed the burnt out hull of a DC8 belonging to Canadian Pacific that was involved in a landing accident the previous day.


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User currently offlineN49WA From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 32480 times:

2 Lockheed Electras, Braniff in 1959 and Northwest in 1960 lost wings in flight due to "whirl mode". Vibrations from inadequately mounted engines spread to the wing root causing separation (engineer types correct me if I'm wrong).

User currently offlineFlyPBA From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 431 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 32423 times:

Chalks lost a Turbo Mallard this way at Miami Beach

User currently offlineKappel From Suriname, joined Jul 2005, 3533 posts, RR: 17
Reply 11, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 32378 times:

Wings breaking off is virtually impossible in current commercial airliners. I remember an incident with China Airlines (IIRC) where the 747 underwent such extreme forces that the wings were permanently deformed, but did not break off. There was a documentary on NGC about this incident.


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User currently offlineScouseflyer From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2006, 3385 posts, RR: 9
Reply 12, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 32248 times:

The only large airliner that had this sort of truama recently that I can think of is the MD11F that crashed at Tokyo last year. That broke one of its wings in a very hard landing that lead to the plane tragically crashing - not quite the same I know but still a wing break.

User currently offlineWestWing From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 2134 posts, RR: 7
Reply 13, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 30936 times:



Quoting Scouseflyer (Reply 12):
The only large airliner that had this sort of truama recently that I can think of is the MD11F that crashed at Tokyo last year. That broke one of its wings in a very hard landing that lead to the plane tragically crashing - not quite the same I know but still a wing break.

Do you mean the FedEx accident from this year (March 2009). Perhaps I am quibbling with subtle semantics here, but, from the videos, it does not look like the wing broke in the hard landing and that this then led to the crash. It looks like the wing broke after it contacted ground, so the wing break was caused by the the crash, not the cause of it.



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User currently offlineSW733 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 6311 posts, RR: 9
Reply 14, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 30873 times:



Quoting Airlinespotter (Thread starter):
I didn't not realize that one or both wings of an airplane could break off while it is in the air.



Quoting 413x3 (Reply 1):
Anythings possible

Anything is possible...my first day of my undergraduate aerospace engineering education, this is what I was taught. We had to repeat it - "anything is possible, anything is possible". On an airplane anything can happen...the thing is, we (aero engineers) have to design it so that even the thought of it happening is minimal. The fact that you did not even know it was possible is what we aim for...that is one of the last things we want you to think about on the aircraft! But, of course, anything is possible


User currently offlineEMA747 From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2006, 1171 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 30624 times:



Quoting Beeweel15 (Reply 4):
Was this the clip

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7kr6...1s9sI

Is that video real or fake?



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User currently offlineBWI5OH From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 158 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 30507 times:



Quoting N49WA (Reply 9):
2 Lockheed Electras, Braniff in 1959 and Northwest in 1960 lost wings in flight due to "whirl mode". Vibrations from inadequately mounted engines spread to the wing root causing separation (engineer types correct me if I'm wrong).

You are correct! There was an excellent program on Discovery about those crashes. IIRC, when the number 2 and 3 engines hit a certain RPM,(and a certain vibratory frequency) the whole engine would start oscillating, causing stress at the location where the wings are attached to the fuselage. This was proven, as other Electra's were inspected and they found prop damage and areas on the leading wing edge where the prop would rub against it.

I believe the Braniff crashed in Buffalo, TX, just minutes away from my family's ranch...



"It's all fun and games until the cops show up"
User currently onlineMEA-707 From Netherlands, joined Nov 1999, 4311 posts, RR: 36
Reply 17, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 30297 times:



Quoting EMA747 (Reply 15):
Is that video real or fake?

real of course ! Why would someone fake that. This accident is widely documented and focussed on the problem of old firefighting airplanes.



nobody has ever died from hard work, but why take the risk?
User currently offlineGeorgiaAME From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 967 posts, RR: 6
Reply 18, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 30261 times:



Quoting SW733 (Reply 14):
my first day of my undergraduate aerospace engineering education, this is what I was taught. We had to repeat it - "anything is possible, anything is possible".

Your professor was BRILLIANT. Now let me give you the corollary, that I repeat to my staff over and over and over: "Never assume anything!" With those 2 statements, a lot of lives can be saved.



"Trust, but verify!" An old Russian proverb, quoted often by a modern American hero
User currently offlineRIX From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 1787 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 29630 times:

An10 in early 70-s (following several other incidents), the fleet was grounded permanently.

User currently offlineSkymiler From United States of America, joined Aug 2007, 527 posts, RR: 1
Reply 20, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 29359 times:

what about the Air Canada DC-8 at YYZ in 1969 or 1970 (IIRC) after its hard landing ...


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User currently offlineSimpilot459 From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 139 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 29357 times:

Also happened to a brand new F-111 in December 1969 where a forging defect caused the wing to break in flight after only 100 hrs.


Take off: Optional Landing: Mandatory
User currently offlineSSTsomeday From Canada, joined Oct 2006, 1276 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 28764 times:



Quoting Skymiler (Reply 20):
what about the Air Canada DC-8 at YYZ in 1969 or 1970 (IIRC) after its hard landing ...

As I recall that A/C exploded during the go around?



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User currently offlineTdscanuck From Canada, joined Jan 2006, 12709 posts, RR: 80
Reply 23, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 27888 times:



Quoting Airlinespotter (Thread starter):
I didn't not realize that one or both wings of an airplane could break off while it is in the air.

It depends (a lot) on the aircraft design. If you build the wings so that they're stronger than the maximum aerodynamic force they can generate, then you physically can't rip the wings off if you fly inside the flight envelope. You'll just stall them before they separate. The only way to take them off is to screw up your maintenance so your strength goes low (some of the Grumman Goose failures) or get outside the flight envelope so the force gets too high (the 707 in heavy turbulence).

Tom.


User currently offlineYellowtail From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 6085 posts, RR: 2
Reply 24, posted (4 years 11 months 2 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 27057 times:

When I first read the title of this thread, my first thought was "another AF crash theory"....

We know it is next to impossible that it is impossible for it to happen....but having established that "anything is possible"

It is possible for there to be a set of circumstances where a manufacturing defect at the wing root combined with very unusual turbulence and some piloting issues combine to have the wings snap off after an other wise recoverable "plunge".

Remember the US Sioux City Crash...the fan disk had a manufacturing defect that was never detected...



When in doubt, hold on to your altitude. No-one has ever collided with the sky.
25 Viscount724 : Fuel tank exploded which caused part of the wing to fail after the hard landing and attempted go-aroundl. If any aircraft was unlikely to suffer a ma
26 Gr8SlvrFlt : Northwest lost four Martin 202s between 1948 and 1950, the first of which crashed after loss of a wing. Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne was kil
27 BluemoonUK : I believe the hercules firefighter crash was caused by corrosion in the wing box. Bluemoon ps wasnt there a US military plane,unsure of type,suffered
28 Post contains links and images Viscount724 : Yes, a Lockheed C-141 Starlifter.
29 71Zulu : How bout this one? I remember reading that an off duty PA pilot who had just left SFO and was driving home saw the aircraft on fire and took a picture
30 ExL10Mktg : I remember seeing several photos of this incident in Life Magazine at the time taken by someone driving near SFO, so I would imagine those images are
31 MEA-707 : This incident has often been used to praise the 707s 'over engineeredness'. The standard joke was that in the MEL checklist was written something lik
32 Post contains links and images Viscount724 : I've seen photos of that aircraft after the emergency landing at Travis AFB, but forget where. There's also a photo taken by a passenger showing the
33 413X3 : With the way computers aid in design and testing, such structural defects are found far before the airplanes are in service... just ask the 787 design
34 Post contains links KELPkid : This is the accident report from my late PPL ground school instructor http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/GenPDF.asp?id=FTW93FA105&rpt=fa The wings had departed
35 Post contains links and images TransIsland : View Large View MediumPhoto © Stephen B. Aranha Maybe not the first model that comes to mind when thinking "commercial airliner," but sadly, it
36 Sparky35805 : The wings were not the first to fail on the BOAC 707,the forward fuselage was.One wing failed from the outboard engine out.There is a photo of the win
37 Post contains links Cosmofly : An F15 broke its wing and continue to fly and land safely. http://img396.imageshack.us/img396/9348/f15f18durabilitykf7.gif
38 Airlinespotter : I understand you completely, but after I watched the clip (at least 4 times and extremely disturbing), I said to myself that with all of the modern t
39 Tdscanuck : Actually, you can't afford to *not* have it happen. It makes almost everybody but engineers angry, but no practical engineered system can be designed
40 JOEYCAPPS : Well, [modern] commercial aircraft are designed to withstand tremendous wing-flex. HOWEVER, every aircraft in existance has parameters and limits. Str
41 Post contains links Type-Rated : I read a book years ago about the Electra. You are correct in stating that whirl mode is what lead to the crashes. What actually happened is that aft
42 Milesrich : It did, on September 29, 1959, almost 50 years ago, Braniff flight 542 from HOU TO DAL lost a wing in clear weather near Buffalo, TX. After a Northwe
43 IMissPiedmont : It's whorl mode and can be demonstrated quite nicely with a simple childs top. Get it spinning and try to hold it steady with 2 fingers (what the ori
44 BWI5OH : I had no clue it was that bad...thank you for the insight. As I read this, my thoughts pour out to the families who lost loved ones in such a horrifi
45 BWI5OH : Although I've never heard of this before, I've also heard it called "harmonic coupling".
46 Airtechy : Reading the accident reports on the Electra crashes is interesting because it reveals how the best engineering analysis can overlook something...parti
47 Spacecadet : Iran Air Force 747 also lost the outboard section of its wing in flight and crashed, cause was never conclusively determined although it was flying th
48 Ivo : Oktober 6, 1981 Fokker F28-4000 NLM Cityhopper PH-CLI Near Rotterdam Netherlands, Wing broke off in storm after take-off. Ivo
49 Spectre242 : As part of aircraft certification, the wings (like much of an aircraft's structure) are required to have a factor of safety of 1.5 over the maximum po
50 Tdscanuck : That's not exactly correct. They're required to have a factor of safety of 1.5 over the maximum *expected* load that will be experienced in flight. I
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