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Dc-10 Engine Falls Off

Fri Jan 21, 2000 6:31 am

My wife swears she was on a plane (she thinks a dc-10) from detroit metro to los angeles (it might not have been direct) in the mid to late 70s, where at some point before the take off roll one of the engines fell off the plane! She thinks the airline was continental..Does anyone know of an incident like this?
ps: She was only 10 and was flying alone when this happened so it might have been something a little less severe..
thanks, adam
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RE: Dc-10 Engine Falls Off

Fri Jan 21, 2000 6:51 am

Well, there was the famous Chicago incident with the AA DC10-10 where the engine came off on the takeoff roll and took the hydraulics to the LEDs with it. This caused one wing to stall, and the plane rolled and crashed. However, all of the people aboard that plane perished.

The whole fleet of US DC10s was subsequently grounded, and they found that 6 other jets had the same malfunction waiting to happen. Two were Continental's. I don't think that implies that it actually happened though.
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RE: Dc-10 Engine Falls Off

Fri Jan 21, 2000 8:53 am

Above is correct. It was the AA DC10 in I belive May 1979. No other DC10s' crashed due to this problem, and again you are correct the US fleet was grounded.
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This Is Somewhat Different

Fri Jan 21, 2000 9:23 am

But this is one of many reasons I dislike DC-10s. I still consider them unsafe and while I only know for certain of one engine falling off incident at all (aboard a 747-300) that was not fatal, it surprises me none that the DC-10 had this flaw. Also about their engines: They are placed closer to the fuselage then is preferable because of something to do with stress by the back engine, I'm not sure what...
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RE: This Is Somewhat Different

Fri Jan 21, 2000 9:45 am

To be fair to the DC10, it wasn't the fault of the manufacturer directly, although safety improvements can be made to any airliner. The problem was that MDD sent out a maintenance directive to all DC10 operators telling them they had to replace some part on the engine pylon. The directive stated that the airline must remove the engine, then remove the pylon to do the work. Some airlines thought a faster way would be to remove the engine and pylon as a unit simultaneously. This caused severe stress on part of the pylon-to-wing structure, and part of it cracked. (This crack was found on many planes where the directions were not followed to a tee.) A few weeks enduring this crack of course made it worse until finally it snapped on rotation of this particular AA DC10. In fact, there were 6 other jets in the US fleet that were ticking time bombs as well. All because the airlines involved chose to cut corners to save time.

It should also be added that the crew of the plane did not realize that the wing was stalling, and not some other fault, and thus rolled to the side since the other wing was not stalling. If they had kept their speed up, the accident would not have occurred. (The wing stalled because the engine took out a little bit of the hydraulics controling the LED, so they retracted.)

I believe the DC10 has been fixed so that this event could not happen even if maintenance did not follow the instructions given by MDD.

This is a good place to note that whenever something bad happens on a plane, the public declares that that type has problems, not the airline, not the engine company, but always Boeing, Airbus, or at the time McD. In this case, the fault was with the Airline, then the manufacturer. AA was so hurt by the public's new dislike for the DC10 that they removed the title from the plane's livery. All other AA jets to this day tell the type below the cockpit, Super 80, Luxury Liner 767, etc., but the DC10s simply say "Luxury Liner."
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RE: Dc-10 Engine Falls Off

Fri Jan 21, 2000 1:36 pm

You are correct on your facts DLX. The one caveat I'd like to add is that the Chicago crash can be attributed to MD a bit more fairly if you take into account that the pylon set up. On the DC-10 it was such that in the event of a break away, the engine would fly up and over the wing. This is indeed what happened. And in doing so, the hydraulic lines were severed and the slats retracted as you mentioned. It it my understanding, and I hope this is correct, that had an L-1011 lost an engine on rotation, the pylon set up was designed such that the engine would fall under and away from the wing, leaving the slats and their hydraulic lines intact. Preventing by foresight in their design, the fate of that DC-10, AA 191.

An optimist robs himself of the joy of being pleasantly surprised
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RE: Dc-10 Engine Falls Off

Fri Jan 21, 2000 2:36 pm

And of course, we can't forget that the DC10 only has three hydraulic lines vs. the L1011's four. If the DC10 had that additional line then it might've prevented the crash from happening, also.
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DC10 Hydraulics

Fri Jan 21, 2000 3:41 pm

While the lacking hydraulics system did play a role in other DC10 incidents the system really had very little to do with this incident. Yes, one of the three systems was severed. However, with maximum leakage rates, the plane could have still flown long enough to attempt an emergency landing or two.

The problem came when the pressure holding the LEDs out fell off immediately as a result of the *location* of the rupture. The DC10 uses only hydraulics to keep the LED extended. So, a lack of hydraulics equals a lack of LEDs. Without the slats, the wing stalled, and the plane rolled until it crashed sideways on the ground. The Air Disaster series by Macarthur Job details this incident very well.
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RE: Dc-10 Engine Falls Off

Fri Jan 21, 2000 4:31 pm

To get back to lax2000''s original story....
Sometime in 1972 or '73, a CO DC-10 had just taken off from LAX when the exaust cone from the #2 engine (not the engine itself) seperated from the plane and landed in someone's front yard. The plane returned to LAX with no other damage or injuries. I don't recall any other details about it, but this could be the event Mrs. lax2000 remembers.
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RE: DC10 Hydraulics

Fri Jan 21, 2000 5:19 pm

I read a report which suggested the AA crew flew a perfect 'procedure' after loss of the engine, but in doing so inadvertently maintained a low airspeed which led to the left wing stall. Can any DC-10 pilots confirm this?
L1011 - P F M
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RE: Dc-10 Engine Falls Off

Fri Jan 21, 2000 9:42 pm

High there
DC 10 Hydraulics: To Sahkly, as far as I remember, it was the disintegration of the engine caused damage to the slats of the left wing. That's why the aircraft rolled severely and could not be handle anymore by the crew.

As for the redundant hydraulic-systems on DC-10's: Yes the have three, but remember the UA232-Sioux Citiy accident (my favorite, if I my say so - look into my hobbies...) the guy at United's SAM at San Fransisco couldn't beliebe all three hydraulic Systems had gone. It was impossible that this could happen. So they thought at MDD and UA.

Hope this helps in understanding.

I deeply apologize for my rudimental english - as I'm writing out of Switzerland - which leads me to my last word: Also the SR-DC 10 were back in 1979 grounded. And as lately read in a newspaper the dispatcher did a hell of job in permitting still 75% of SR's regular flights.

Mates - have a nice day.

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RE: Dc-10 Engine Falls Off

Fri Jan 21, 2000 11:52 pm

Kottan is wrong, it was the loss of hyds & the slat posn feedback cables that caused the slats to retract. ( I am a DC-10 approved engineer and was involved with the post incident inspections at the time). The British 10's were also grounded
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RE: Dc-10 Engine Falls Off

Sat Jan 22, 2000 12:08 am

It is my understanding that the L1011 and 747 had a slat locking mechanism that would have prevented LED 'blow back' such as the AA DC-10 suffered at ORD.

Regarding the hydraulic lines in the tail (Sioux City) I understand that there was a point in the tailfin where all three lines run through the same spot, rather than being kept separate as one would expect in a design which provides true redundancy.

RE: Dc-10 Engine Falls Off

Sat Jan 22, 2000 6:05 am

There was an incident involving an Air Florida DC-10 in 1981 where the aircraft was powering up at the start of it's takeoff run and the engine tore off severing the hydraulic lines in that wing causing the slats to retract. The pilot was able to stop the aircraft on the runway, a repeat of the AA Flight 191 disaster was narrowly avoided. There should have been a 4th hydraulic line somewhere else in the DC-10 like the 747 & L-1011, the American & United accidents would not have happened.
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For A AA191 Photo....

Sat Jan 22, 2000 8:28 am

...Go to
Click on Crash Photos
Scroll down to AA191 on 5.25.79
There are 4 pix available,
#1 shows the aircraft in a 90 left roll, slightly nose down, the number 1 engine is clearly missing with a vapor trail.
#2 shows the ensuing fireball.
#3 and #4 show the accident site.

Truly tragic, yet amazing shots...
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
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DC10 Hydraulics AGAIN...

Sat Jan 22, 2000 9:26 am

please understand that it was not an issue whatsoever that the DC10 had only three hydraulic lines. In fact, that wasn't an issue in the UA232 accident either.

In AA191, the airplane's control surfaces were operational until the plane went into the ground. Hydraulics were leaking in one system, (fine in the other 2) but loss of control did not result from loss of hydraulics. The reason the plane crashed (again...) is because the slats retracted when the hydraulic lockout failed due to lack of pressure. Not because it only had 3 hydro lines. OKAY?

In UA232, it wasn't the fact that there were only 3 hydro lines as opposed to 4, but that they happened to cross at a rather unfortunate place. The disintegrating engine blew threw all three of the lines at that point. So, the DC10 could have had 50 different lines, but if they were designed to pass through that point like that, it would have met the same fate.

Make sense?

RE: Dc-10 Engine Falls Off

Sat Jan 22, 2000 9:45 am

Bottom line, the D10 was a relatively poorly designed aircraft compared to its less-successful rival, the L1011. You have all done a very good job of proving that.

What I want to know is, what modifications were made to the MD11 to correct these obvious flaws. Did they add another hydraulic line? Did they redesign the engine pylon? Were some changes applied to later versions of the D10 and perhaps retrofitted to existing fleets?
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RE: Dc-10 Engine Falls Off

Sat Jan 22, 2000 1:35 pm

From my recollection, this airplane was rushed into production in an effort to gain market share on its upcoming rival - the L1011. This is just an impression I have, so I could be wrong. I recall it was an example of aeronautical engineering by trial and error.

SO many things went wrong with the DC-10 after it went into service. The other main incident I remember that resulted in the redesign of not only cargo door handles but interior cabin floor ventillation systems in all wide-bodied aircraft was the crash at Orly in the early 70's. That accident was the product of a faulty/improperly closed cargo door that blew out after the aircraft was highly pressurized. The resultant differential between cabin and cargo compartment pressurization caused sections of the cabin floor to collapse, severing many vital control functions. The aircraft crashed with no survivors.

However today, I believe it is one of the safest airplanes in the sky. I think it is sad though that so many lives had to be taken before it could get to this state. Sadder still when you think of how Boeing could design, trouble-shoot and produce the 777 all from computer drawings and simulations. Things they didn't have in the 60's I guess...

Interesting topic. Just my opinion!

Best Regards,

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Sat Jan 22, 2000 1:43 pm

As usual, Buff, I agree!
I still have slight reservations about getting on one. In fact, I've never been on one to this day. (The only current types I haven't flown are DC10/MD11, and A330, though I can't see it being too much different than the 340.)

I too have heard that it was rushed to production because the L1011 was going to beat it to the market. It is sad that the L1011 did so poorly that Lockheed left the commercial biz. I really wish they had stayed, since they made bar-none the best airliner in terms of engineering in the L1011. But this was in the days when Airbus and the "Era of Family Commonality" was around.
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RE: Dc-10 Engine Falls Off

Sat Jan 22, 2000 6:12 pm

As an engineer approved (licenced) on the DC-10 I can say the only accident's that were attributal to poor design was the cargo door blow-out & to some extent Sioux City incident. All the other accidents were due to poor operator practice or procedures.

After the Chicago incident MCD put Chk Valves in the slat sys hydraulics that would prevent the hyd fluid leaking out of the slat actuators in the event of a pipe rupture. In addition the Flt Dk was fitted with slat posn indicator lights

RE: Dc-10 Engine Falls Off

Sun Jan 23, 2000 2:33 am

After the United 232 accident in Sioux City, MD incorporated a device called a one-way check valve. These have been used effectively since the 50s on some aircraft to prevent a great loss of hydraulic fluid. The L-1011 has them and they were put in the 747 after the Japan Airlines accident in I believe 1985. MD should have had these on the DC-10 when it entered service in the early 70s. These one-way check valves have been put in the MD-11. Don't know if MD added 4th hydraulic line?

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