I think we all perceive the 747 to be a safe aircraft. At least the general poulation perceives it to be.
The general population and many forum members believe the DC10 to be of failrly poor design, and suffered the consequences early in it's life.
The fact of the matter is that the the DC10 had cargo door design flaw that allowed the door to open in flight. this is a fact.
The DC10 had an additional design flaw that allowed the leading edge devices to retract when hydraulic pressure is removed. They do not have a locking mechanism holding them in place possibly contributing to the loss of control of the ill fated AA DC10 at O'hare.
It is also a fact that the Boeing 747 had problems with it's cargo door latch indicator giving the impression the door was properly closed when it was anything but closed. This design flaw was the contributing factor in the UAL 747 accident where the side of the fuselage opened up sucking out rows of seats with passengers stil attatched.
Another major design flaw in the 747 is the pylon design. the engines are attatched to the wing through shear pins that are designed to be the week link in the event of a catastrophic engine failure. The fuse pins would shear causing the engine to seperate limiting the damage to the engine aparing the wing.
The shear pins have found to be the cause of 2 fatal accidents and one incident where engines have seperated from the airplane under normal conditions
The shear pins have since been eliminated and replaced with stainless steal which will not shear in the event of catastrophy.
Why are peoples perceptions what they are? Are they unaware of the facts? Is the media to blame. Do we just love to hate some planes?
I would guess the media are largely to blame - the Turkish DC-10 crash had the unfortunate distinction of being the largest loss of (single aircraft) life at the time, and so was an "important" story. Coupled with this (and because of this) there were major official and journalistic investigations of the procedures of certain airlines and the FAA - problems and irregularities were discovered which probably apply to all aircraft, but were for ever after associated in most people's minds with the DC-10.
Similarly, in the case of the Souix City incident, the pilots were (quite rightly in my opinion) portrayed as heros in the press and later by Hollywood. But every hero needs a villian, and the DC-10 was used to fill that role, though it was not necessarily any more villianous than other airliners.
But I must confess that all things being equal, I would choose to fly in a 747 before a DC-10 - the former may have just as many problems, but the record would suggest it has a better ability to survive serious failures.
The Sioux City Iowa was a manufacturing flaw that would have happened to any airplane the engine was attatched to. It however was in the worst possible location on the aircraft it could possibly have been placed.
It is true however that their are no hydraulic fuses installed on the DC10 that would have prevented a loss of all hydraulics.
The chances of such a failure were astronomic. But obviously possible. But the leading factor, the engine failure, was not the fault of Douglas.
The DC10 is a much maligned aircraft. The American Airlines, Turkish Airlines, and United crashes all revealed serious design flaws. However, the DC10 has proven to be a reliable and safe aircraft throughout the 1980's and 1990's and today, is still the workhorse of some airlines' fleets, but the numbers are dwindling. With
the MD11, MD did not deliver on its promises regarding
range and fuel efficiency.
I recently flew a DC10 from Houston to Newark. I have
gone out of my way to avoid a DC10 flight in the past
(I flew about 20 times a year) and since 1983, have
been on the DC10 three times). I thought the flight
was good, but I don't trust the plane. It's a spooky
feeling I just don't get flying other aircraft.
On the DC-10 all 3 hydraulic lines are side by side where on the L-1011 and 747 all 4 hydraulic lines are in differents sections of the aircraft. If something went wrong with one of the lines the other three can keep the aircraft under control.
Can you prove this info to be true? I know the L1011 is equiped with hydraulic fuses. But I do not think the boeing has these installed.
I am unaware of the position of the hydraulic lines.
I do not know the setup of the DC10's hydraulic system. But if I remeber correctly it has 3 independant systems. Any one can provide full control surface authority as in the 747.
A further design flaw in the DC10 is that it does not provide for manual reversion. But then neither do any Airbus aircraft. Nor the 777. So was doing a way with manual reversion a design before it's time, or a mistake we never learned from.
I do not know if the 747 has manual reversion or not. But this isn't really a comparisson of airplanes. But a question of perception.
I think what is causing the phase-out of the DC-10 can be traced to three causes:
1. High fuel burn per passenger mile on the older models.
2. The fact many DC-10's are 20 or more years old, which means very high airframe time.
3. The arrival of ETOPS 120 and 180 minute certification, which made the DC-10's three-engine design superfluous.
If ETOPS certification had stayed at 120 minutes even today, MD-11 sales would have been much larger, Boeing would have sold more 747's, Boeing may have ended up building the 777 with four PW2040 or RB.211-535E4 engines, and Airbus A340 sales would be quite a bit larger.
Anyway, AA has just about phased out their DC-10's, UA has begun to replace them with more 767-300ER's and 777-200ER's, and most of the world's airlines are phasing out their DC-10 fleets.
The last major bastions of the DC-10 will be at Northwest and Hawaiian Airlines, but even then I don't expect them to be around for more than 5-6 years. By 2006, I expect both these airlines to have replaced them with either second-hand and heavily refurbished MD-11's or they'll buy and/or long-term lease either the Airbus A330-300 or Boeing 767-400ER.
On Friday I flew on two United 737s, a 200 & 300 model and I was not worried because the rudder problem has been fixed with an add on modification. Most 737 pilots have been trained throughly in case of a rudder hardover.
My neighbor is an ex Western 720 and DC-10 pilot. He loves the Dc-10 and in his 10 or so years of flying and training pilots on it he only encountered one problem, flaps opening in mid flight. I think he said he slowed down to a speed where he could retract them safely, and did so. He also said he was supposed to fly the ill fated Mexico city flight but was sick. I asked him if he felt lucky, he said (sadly) he wouldn't have made the mistake that his friend had made. This guys pretty intense, I guess during training flights he would place duct tape over certain important gages and expect the pilot to come up with ways to deal with it. Anyways I like the DC-10 and statisticly it is as safe as 747 classics. Right?
The Air New Zealand crash was pilot error, wasn't it? Nothing having to do with the design of the DC-10. The captain deviated below the minimum height in order to give the passengers a close-up view of Mt. Erebus, and encountered white-out conditions. The GPW sounded, go-around power was applied, but the plane slammed into a slope of Mt. Erebus and disintegrated.
I've never felt quite as secure flying in DC-10s as I have on other aircraft. They always creak and groan too much, both on the ground and in the air, and they vibrate heavily when spoilers are deployed for descent.
If I remember correctly, neither the pilot nor the plane were to blame. Hadn't someone modified the flight plan without informing the crew or something?
I could be wrong, of course, but I vaguely remember something like that. In any case, it certainly wasn't the plane's fault. This is a perfect example of how people blame the DC-10 without due cause. Makes me sick.
I believe the major contributing factor in that crash was that while the INS was initializing (locating itself) the plane was moved to a new location. The gyros were not stabilized resulting in the perceived location of the aircraft to be different form the actual location.
The conditions were unlimited visibility. However the snow covered mountain was indistinguishable from the surrounding overcast layer, and gave the illusion that the sky continued unobstructed where it met with the horizon.
Many believe that the 747 is just a better airplane than the DC-10... like me! I think the DC-10 is okay... MD-11 is awesome! But... 747 beats them both! It's just an opinion. The 747 may be the most popular plane in the public's eye.