USAFHummer
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Crichton's "Airframe"-based On Real Life Incident?

Fri May 10, 2002 8:41 am

Hey folks,

I was browsing the NTSB's database of incident reports when I came across this one (sorry for the all caps, thats how it came):

http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?ev_id=20001211X12107&key=1

NTSB Identification: DCA93MA037 . The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 48295.

Scheduled 14 CFRPart 129 operation of Foreign CHINA EASTERN AIRLINES
Accident occurred Tuesday, April 06, 1993 at SHEMYA, AK
Aircraft:MCDONNELL DOUGLAS MD-11, registration: B2171

Injuries: 2 Fatal, 60 Serious, 96 Minor, 97 Uninjured.
FLIGHT 583 WAS LEVEL AT 33,000 FEET WHEN THE LEADING EDGE SLATS DEPLOYED INADVERTENTLY. THE AUTOPILOT DISCONNECTED AND THE CAPTAIN WAS MANUALLY CONTROLLING THE AIRPLANE WHEN IT PROGRESSED THROUGH SEVERAL VIOLENT PITCH OSCILLATIONS AND LOST 5,000 FEET. THE SAFETY BOARD DETERMINED THAT THE INADVERTENT DEPLOYMENT OF THE SLATS WAS THE RESULT OD AN INADEQUATELY DESIGNED FLAP/SLAT HANDLE THAT ALLOWED THE HANDLED TO BE EASILY AND INADVERTENLY DISLODGED FROM THE UP/RET POSITION, THEREBY CAUSING SLAT EXTENSION.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident/incident as follows.

THE NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD DETERMINES THAT THE PROBABLE CAUSE OF THIS ACCIDENT WAS THE INADEQUATE DESIGN OF THE FLAP/SLAT ACTUATION HANDLE BY THE DOUGLAS AIRCRAFT COMPANY THAT ALLOWED THE HANDLE TO BE EASILY AND INADVERTENTLY DISLODGED FROM THE UP/RET POSITION, THEREBY CAUSING EXTENSION OF THE LEADING EDGE SLATS DURING CRUISE FLIGHT. THE CAPTAIN'S ATTEMPT TO RECOVER FROM THE SLAT EXTENSION, GIVEN THE REDUCED LONGITUDINAL STABILITY AND THE ASSOCIATED LIGHT CONTROL FORCE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE MD-11 IN CRUISE FLIGHT, LED TO SEVERAL VIOLENT PITCH OSCILLATIONS. CONTRIBUTING TO THE VIOLENCE OF THE PITCH OSCILLATIONS WAS THE LACK OF SPECIFIC MD-11 PILOT TRAINING IN RECOVERY FROM HIGH ALTITUDE UPSETS, AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE STALL WARNING SYSTEM ON THE CAPTAIN'S CONTROL RESPONSES. CONTRIBUTING TO THE SEVERITY OF THE INJURIES WAS THE LACK OF SEAT RESTRAINT USAGE BY THE OCCUPANTS.

For those who dont wanna read it I'll sum up the similarities that I see here (some more detailed than others):

-China/Hong Kong widebody jet involved
-Inadvertent slat deployment
-poorly designed handle
-pitch oscillations
-over the Pacific Ocean
-similar casualty figures (in Airframe, 3 dead and 56 injured)
-similar but not entirely identical probable cause...
-similar flight numbers (TPA 545 in Airframe)
-aircraft involved had a reputation for problems

What do you think?

Greg
Chief A.net college football stadium self-pic guru
 
TNboy
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RE: Crichton's "Airframe"-based On Real Life Incident?

Fri May 10, 2002 8:47 am

I've just started reading it. The cover notes say it contains Crichton's hallmark "scientific research", so maybe the research was partly based around this particular incident?
Cheers
Bill
"...every aircraft is subtly different.."
 
che
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RE: Crichton's "Airframe"-based On Real Life Incident?

Fri May 10, 2002 8:54 am

It could be based on that event. I just read it not too long ago and it is an excelllent book!!! It kept my attenticion the entire way through.

che
 
FrequentFlier
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RE: Crichton's "Airframe"-based On Real Life Incident?

Fri May 10, 2002 8:55 am

Interesting...

What a great book, by the way.

Never take it on a trip, though!  Smile
 
Squigee
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RE: Crichton's "Airframe"-based On Real Life Incident?

Fri May 10, 2002 9:51 am

Its so funny that I just finished reading the book, and I keep noticing people mentioning it. It must be that I finally notice all the references which I missed before. If you haven't read it yet - DO! It's a really good read, and you learn a lot too.

BTW- MD-11 and N-22, coincidence? I think not  Big grin
Someday, we'll look back at this, laugh nervously, and then change the subject.
 
Jonathan L
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RE: Crichton's "Airframe"-based On Real

Fri May 10, 2002 11:40 am

I've read it twice, and now I wish they'd make a movie out of it already...
 
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yyz717
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RE: Crichton's "Airframe"-based On Real Life Incident?

Fri May 10, 2002 12:30 pm

The parallels with MDD are very evident.

I enjoy his novels from an aviation standpoint. Some of the non-av drama & personal plots are a little corny.

I dumped at the gybe mark in strong winds when I looked up at a Porter Q400 on finals. Can't stop spotting.
 
sccutler
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RE: Crichton's "Airframe"-based On Real Life Incident?

Fri May 10, 2002 1:59 pm

Ah, but the ultimate culprit is not the aircraft, and the unusual circumstances applicable there are taken from life, in Rusia.... no more hints, for those who've not yet read it.
...three miles from BRONS, clear for the ILS one five approach...
 
USAFHummer
Topic Author
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RE: Crichton's "Airframe"-based On Real Life Incident?

Fri May 10, 2002 8:20 pm

Heheh sccutler,

I see what you mean now I remember reading about the Russian similar incident as well...although circumstances were a bit different between the two.

Greg
Chief A.net college football stadium self-pic guru
 
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BNE
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RE: Crichton's "Airframe"-based On Real Life Incident?

Fri May 10, 2002 9:16 pm

Greg thanks for finding that incident report. I thought the accident was caused in a simlar way to the Russian accident but you have now given me the other part of the story. I might have to go re-read the book as I read it a few years ago before I realy knew as much as I do now about aircraft.

I found the book rather easy to read and amazon is showing the book as available for $7.99.
Why fly non stop when you can connect
 
jayhup
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RE: Crichton's "Airframe"-based On Real Life Incident?

Fri May 10, 2002 9:52 pm

For those of you who haven't read the book and don't want to know what happens stop reading now........

I though the point of the book was that it was human error and not a mechanical one that caused the accident. Although it has been a long time since I read the book and I've read a hundred books since then so I may have confused it with a John Grisham or Patricia Cornwell novel......

JH
 
UALPHLCS
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RE: Crichton's "Airframe"-based On Real Life Incident?

Fri May 10, 2002 10:05 pm

I have read the book as well, you have the point of the novel down correctly Jayhup.

I also agree w/ the subplots about media bias and laziness,(read my post in the Media bias thread) and the EU politics. Both seem pretty true to life.
A little less Hooah, and a little more Dooah.
 
LZ-TLT
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RE: Crichton's "Airframe"-based On Real Life Incident?

Sat May 11, 2002 3:09 am

Another paralel(sp?):

In the book, the Norton Aircraft manufacturing facility was located in Burbank.

The book is good either. I believe, however, Crichton took one accident to "shape" the book around, but there have been several other incidents he has studied in order to get the final result. One I recall was an Inex Adria DC-9 crashing on approach to Ajaccio-Campo Dell'Oro . As various sources cite, evidently the son of the captain was in the cockpit and his voice clearly identified on the CVR. Here and there, this is considered a contributing factor leading to the crash. Here is a brief description of the accident:

http://aviation-safety.net/database/1981/811201-1.htm

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