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aeromoe
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Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Fri May 25, 2018 4:45 am

Hard to believe this event happened nearly four decades ago. I was a Freshman in High School and the crash announcement was made at our school on the West Coast.

R.I.P. the victims and condolences to everyone involved.
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SpaceshipDC10
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Fri May 25, 2018 10:26 am

I was too young then to be aware of such drama, but when years later I saw that picture of the aircraft with its wings past the 90° bank, I couldn't believe it.

https://aviation-safety.net/database/re ... 19790525-2

Image
 
SpaceshipDC10
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Fri May 25, 2018 8:11 pm

In about two minutes, it will be exactly 39 years since the flight was cleared for take off on that fateful day at 3:02PM local time.
 
teneriffe77
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 2:31 am

Interestingly enough the runway where that flight took of from was recently taken out of service and partially removed as part of the airport's new runway system. I've also studied that accident a lot since it took place a few weeks after I was born.
 
Planeflyer
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 2:48 am

I know one of the engines fell off but why did it crash?

Wat it too low for the pilots to fly on two engines?
 
Bobloblaw
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 2:57 am

Planeflyer wrote:
I know one of the engines fell off but why did it crash?

Wat it too low for the pilots to fly on two engines?

The engine severed the hydrolic lines and the slats retracted. This caused the left side of the plane to stall. If they had a lot of height I guess. They could have recovered but landing would be a problem
 
BAINY3
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 3:04 am

Planeflyer wrote:
I know one of the engines fell off but why did it crash?

Wat it too low for the pilots to fly on two engines?

When the engine detached it also ripped out some of the hydraulic lines, which caused the left wing's slats and flaps to retract while the right wing continued as normal. This caused an asymmetric stall where only the left wing stalled, causing the rapid 90-degree left bank. Of course you can't stay in the air with a bank angle like that.
 
trnswrld
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 3:11 am

That’s always a very tough picture to look at. Just to think at that moment there was nearly 300 people inside that plane and not a single thing any of them could do.
 
dtwpilot225
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 4:37 am

trnswrld wrote:
That’s always a very tough picture to look at. Just to think at that moment there was nearly 300 people inside that plane and not a single thing any of them could do.


Not to get religious but my hope is in situations like that is that the soul leaves the body before impact when it knows there is no surviving.
 
727LOVER
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 4:51 am

Last edited by 727LOVER on Sat May 26, 2018 4:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Veigar
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 4:55 am

Planeflyer wrote:
I know one of the engines fell off but why did it crash?

Wat it too low for the pilots to fly on two engines?


Seems to be a bunch of different replies here, but I heard that the engine falling off damaged something in the cockpit that made the pilots do an incorrect procedure when encountering a stall, thus leading to the crash.
 
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william
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 5:01 am

The pilots followed procedure and decreased power which led to the stall. If the PF fire walled the throttles, the aircraft would have flown.
 
N626AA
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 5:54 am

Also worth mentioning, May 25, 2002 was CI#611, the last major 747 pax accident that killed all 225 or so on board when it broke up in midair at FL350 between TPE and HKG.
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FlyHappy
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 5:57 am

Veigar wrote:
Planeflyer wrote:
I know one of the engines fell off but why did it crash?

Wat it too low for the pilots to fly on two engines?


Seems to be a bunch of different replies here, but I heard that the engine falling off damaged something in the cockpit that made the pilots do an incorrect procedure when encountering a stall, thus leading to the crash.



Its my impression that everything was done correctly in the cockpit, given the lack of critical information available, namely no functioning stall indicators (due to electrical failure). The FO had no stick shaker (not mandatory then), and the Captains stick shaker was inoperative.

without timely knowledge that their left wing was about to stall (and then fully did), the pilots had no chance at that low altitude.
 
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ish2dachoppa
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 6:30 am

If I remember correctly from A&P school, the requirement for mechanically locking hydraulic actuators came from this accident.
 
trnswrld
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 1:25 pm

I researched this accident many years ago, but don’t recall a lot of things so input would be greatly appreciated. It’s still hard for me to grasp that reducing power in a heavy takeoff situation like that for any reason would be the correct thing to do. Can anyone please explain to me a little better why reducing power was the correct procedure based on the info the pilots had at the time? and what procedure were the pilots following? In other words for what situation or event did they believe they were experiencing?
Also, reading CVR transcripts shows nothing as the tapes just stop recording I assume at the moment the engine separated. So the loss of that engine not only severed hydraulics, but electric power as well? Incredible!

For those that do not know, at some point long after the crash a memorial was finally made at a park area a few blocks down the road.
 
FlyHappy
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 1:43 pm

trnswrld wrote:
I researched this accident many years ago, but don’t recall a lot of things so input would be greatly appreciated. It’s still hard for me to grasp that reducing power in a heavy takeoff situation like that for any reason would be the correct thing to do. Can anyone please explain to me a little better why reducing power was the correct procedure based on the info the pilots had at the time? and what procedure were the pilots following? In other words for what situation or event did they believe they were experiencing?
Also, reading CVR transcripts shows nothing as the tapes just stop recording I assume at the moment the engine separated. So the loss of that engine not only severed hydraulics, but electric power as well? Incredible!

For those that do not know, at some point long after the crash a memorial was finally made at a park area a few blocks down the road.


I'm not sure there was any reduction in engine power. There was a reduction in airspeed achieved by pitching the nose up, per the Flight Director.
The wing damage cut specific electrical circuits that power the Captains stick shaker, visual stall indicator, CVR and comms (no communication to tower). They simply had no timely way of knowing that they had insufficient lift on one wing, and that the pitch up would put that wing below an elevated stall speed (because of the unknown slat retraction). They may not have known they were physically missing that engine, at all.

No matter how you slice it, 300' of elevation is so little to work with, that its hard for me to imagine any safe ending to that flight, regardless of pilot actions. The lack of redundancy on key systems into the cockpit really was just insurmountable, given the timing of the engine tear-off.

But I leave it to the pilots and aero engineers to correct me if wrong, and explain the logic of the low altitude engine out procedures, which is far beyond me.
 
Dominion301
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 2:03 pm

teneriffe77 wrote:
Interestingly enough the runway where that flight took of from was recently taken out of service and partially removed as part of the airport's new runway system. I've also studied that accident a lot since it took place a few weeks after I was born.


We’re almost the exact same age as this happened on the day I was born.
 
bob75013
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 2:35 pm

I remember it well.

I had flown into ORD that morning, and was in an east facing hotel room on the Kennedy Expressway when I saw a stream of fire trucks heading west. I thought that a plane must have crashed so I went to a west facing window and saw that awful plume of black smoke.

I have had an irrational premonition of impending doom twice in my life while flying.. This was one of them. The other was on the day I f flew from DFW on the day the Delta L1011 crashed.
 
ltbewr
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 3:01 pm

The crash and loss of AA 191 and all those lives did lead to several important changes for safety, in particular as to the DC-10 but all aircraft as well.

It caused the mandate that manufacturers' specified procedures must be followed in any maintenance work. With several airlines, including AA at the time, a shortcut was being used in the removal of DC-10 (and other aircraft) wing engines, removing the engine from the pylon to the wing rather than with the pylon from the wing. The investigation showed the shortcut excessively stressed the attachment point of the pylon to the engine, causing cracks and weakness, that with AA 191, caused the engine to break off. Almost all DC-10s of AA and other airlines were grounded for weeks until investigations of procedure of wing engine removals and inspections of engine pylon attachments were done. AA was not the only airline doing such a shortcut and all airlines had to follow the correct procedures in the future

I believe some changes were made in the hydraulic systems on DC-10's and redesigns to future production to reduce the loss of flap control as well as mandating both 'sticks' in the cockpit had to have 'shakers'.

I would further presume that there were additions in pilot training to deal with possible future events of a loss of an engine.
 
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 4:23 pm

bob75013 wrote:
I remember it well.

I had flown into ORD that morning, and was in an east facing hotel room on the Kennedy Expressway when I saw a stream of fire trucks heading west. I thought that a plane must have crashed so I went to a west facing window and saw that awful plume of black smoke.

I have had an irrational premonition of impending doom twice in my life while flying.. This was one of them. The other was on the day I f flew from DFW on the day the Delta L1011 crashed.


Literally AA191 and DL191? Stay away from all flight 191s, Bob!
Must have been very scary to see the black smoke plume and knowing what that meant. That kind of stuff must stick with you.

The actual crash site of AA191 is still undeveloped, right? Why wouldn't they just have put the memorial there? The photo on the second post has always haunted me - at the moment that it was taken, every person on that plane must have known they were about to die. I cannot think of anything more terrifying than that.
None shall pass!!!!
 
Airbii
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 4:27 pm

A correction to a couple statements several posts above. Yes the left wing slat retracted and as a result the stall speed for the left wing was higher than the right wing, the pilots had no way of knowing that (as previously mentioned the stick shaker function had rendered inoperative) Anyway, the main problem was the FO was flying about V2 + 10 knots and then following procedure raised the nose to get the aircraft speed back to V2 for best single engine climb out. V2 was 153 knots, he was doing about 165 knots, and the increased stall speed of the left wing with slat retracted was 159 knots now. Once he got below 159 knots on his way back to V2 of 153, the aircraft left wing stalled while the right wing did not, and the resulting roll and crash.

The aircraft theoretically could still have climbed out at an airspeed greater than 159 knots, and the initial climb speed of V2+10 (165 knots as the FO was doing) would have climbed out safely. Most airline procedures today (mine included) say to fly out at V2 but if you're already above up to V2 + 10, then keep that airspeed and continue climbing out.
 
SpaceshipDC10
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 4:57 pm

For anyone interested, I post the link below again, from which you can download the NTSB's report.

https://aviation-safety.net/database/re ... 19790525-2

trnswrld wrote:
It’s still hard for me to grasp that reducing power in a heavy takeoff situation like that for any reason would be the correct thing to do.


Take off gross weight was 379,000lb. and the aircraft left the ground after a 6,000ft. roll.

ltbewr wrote:
Almost all DC-10s of AA and other airlines were grounded for weeks until investigations of procedure of wing engine removals and inspections of engine pylon attachments were done. AA was not the only airline doing such a shortcut and all airlines had to follow the correct procedures in the future


Not almost, just all DC-10s worldwide were grounded at one point for about four weeks.
 
dfwjim1
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 4:57 pm

A couple of things related to this crash was that the captain of AA 191 traded his original flight with another captain as a personal favor and the passengers watched the whole crash sequence unfold from a cockpit camera that was projected into the cabins. Unreal.
 
trnswrld
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 4:59 pm

Airbii wrote:
A correction to a couple statements several posts above. Yes the left wing slat retracted and as a result the stall speed for the left wing was higher than the right wing, the pilots had no way of knowing that (as previously mentioned the stick shaker function had rendered inoperative) Anyway, the main problem was the FO was flying about V2 + 10 knots and then following procedure raised the nose to get the aircraft speed back to V2 for best single engine climb out. V2 was 153 knots, he was doing about 165 knots, and the increased stall speed of the left wing with slat retracted was 159 knots now. Once he got below 159 knots on his way back to V2 of 153, the aircraft left wing stalled while the right wing did not, and the resulting roll and crash.

The aircraft theoretically could still have climbed out at an airspeed greater than 159 knots, and the initial climb speed of V2+10 (165 knots as the FO was doing) would have climbed out safely. Most airline procedures today (mine included) say to fly out at V2 but if you're already above up to V2 + 10, then keep that airspeed and continue climbing out.

Thank you for that info. So as mentioned above there likely was no reduction in power settings, but just an increase in pitch to manage the speed.....makes sense.
I would imagine even if the pilot kept the speed up to avoid the left wing stall it would still be a very difficult situation to manage....even in daylight VMC conditions.
It’s hard to imagine what it was like being on that airplane, or really any crash for that matter.
 
SpaceshipDC10
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 5:30 pm

dfwjim1 wrote:
the passengers watched the whole crash sequence unfold from a cockpit camera that was projected into the cabins. Unreal.


Is it a fact?
 
trnswrld
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 5:53 pm

SpaceshipDC10 wrote:
dfwjim1 wrote:
the passengers watched the whole crash sequence unfold from a cockpit camera that was projected into the cabins. Unreal.


Is it a fact?


It all happened so fast that I’m sure footage played in the cabin of the flight deck made no difference, especially on old TVs or projector screens that show very little detail. There were much greater worries going on in the cabin as the plane started rolling beyond 90 degrees to the left. Especially for people on the left side of the plane that may have witnessed the engine come off then see nothing but ground until the end. I’m actually hopeful that maybe a large number of passengers never even knew something was going on without a clear view of outside.
 
LAXdude1023
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 7:08 pm

SpaceshipDC10 wrote:
dfwjim1 wrote:
the passengers watched the whole crash sequence unfold from a cockpit camera that was projected into the cabins. Unreal.


Is it a fact?


Yes. That is a true statement.
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD BRING BACK THE PAYWALL!!!!
 
texdravid
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sat May 26, 2018 11:39 pm

dfwjim1 wrote:
A couple of things related to this crash was that the captain of AA 191 traded his original flight with another captain as a personal favor and the passengers watched the whole crash sequence unfold from a cockpit camera that was projected into the cabins. Unreal.


There has been speculation about the cockpit camera...IMHO, that was a feature of all 1970s AA DC10’s. If it was active that day, it makes the crash even more scary.

Also, the actress that played the Bionic Woman, Lindsay Wagner and her mom went to the gate and decided not to board because she felt uneasy.
What a premonition!
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dfwjim1
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sun May 27, 2018 12:29 am

I was watching the YouTube videos cited above and I ran across another one of a forensic dentist that assisted in the identification of the bodies from 191. According to the dentist, 30 persons on board the plane were never positively identified with the rest being identified only by dental records. One could tell that he was shaken up by what he went through identifying the bodies.
 
spacecadet
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sun May 27, 2018 3:18 am

trnswrld wrote:
I would imagine even if the pilot kept the speed up to avoid the left wing stall it would still be a very difficult situation to manage....even in daylight VMC conditions.


Yes, as in various other accidents that could *theoretically* have been avoided, the problem is the pilots had no real way of knowing what their problem actually was. Even if they'd kept accelerating (which they were not trained to do, as mentioned), the slat retraction warning had been disabled by the loss of the #1 engine. Similar to the El Al crash in Amsterdam years later, they'd probably have just crashed on landing due to asymmetrical stall if they didn't crash on takeoff.

There were various design flaws with the aircraft in addition to the training that were rectified during the type certificate revocation. One of these was to add valves to the hydraulic system so that the slats wouldn't retract in a similar situation. Another was a change to the stall warning system so that the loss of the #1 engine would not cause the loss of stall warning.
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aeromoe
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sun May 27, 2018 6:03 am

SpaceshipDC10 wrote:
dfwjim1 wrote:
the passengers watched the whole crash sequence unfold from a cockpit camera that was projected into the cabins. Unreal.


Is it a fact?


I read in the Wikipedia article (take it with grain of salt) on AA 191 the power to the cockpit camera may have been lost after the #1 engine separated.
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AirlineCritic
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sun May 27, 2018 7:48 am

Yeah. A very sad accident.

The pilots did everything by the book, sadly the book was wrong. And given the loss of warning mechanisms, they didn't have the information they would have needed to realise they needed to do anything different. And they didn't have the altitude to recover when things went wrong.

It is an open question if they could have survived with today's knowledge, even if the hardware they were flying would have been the same. Maybe. The would most likely have had the speed and flown out of the initial problem. Would they have realised they have a slat/flap problem in time to do the landing at higher speed? Would a higher speed landing have been possible? Not sure. I remember the Qantas A380 engine explosion case, where the pilots spent a considerable time testing systems of the airplane in the air, to figure out what's available, how controllable the plane is in various modes of flight, and so on. So maybe these guys would have done the same and saved the day. Although I'm not sure if the landing would have been possible at the needed speed.
 
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LAX772LR
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sun May 27, 2018 7:58 am

richierich wrote:
Literally AA191 and DL191? Stay away from all flight 191s, Bob!

American flight 191 fatally crashed
Delta flight 191 fatally crashed
Prinair flight 191 fatally crashed
X15 flight 191 fatally crashed
British Airways (Speedbird) flight 191 was struck by lightning on its initial departure
Jetblue flight 191's pilot had a psychiatric episode mid-flight and had to be restrained

....also, Comair flight 5191 fatally crashed after pilots mistakenly selected the wrong runway
I myself, suspect a more prosaic motive... ~Thranduil
 
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LAX772LR
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sun May 27, 2018 8:35 am

The superstitious might not want to fly on July 17th either. :(
I myself, suspect a more prosaic motive... ~Thranduil
 
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Balerit
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sun May 27, 2018 9:17 am

LAX772LR wrote:
richierich wrote:
Literally AA191 and DL191? Stay away from all flight 191s, Bob!


....also, Comair flight 5191 fatally crashed after pilots mistakenly selected the wrong runway


Not to be confused with Comair in South Africa.
Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (retired).
 
B777LRF
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sun May 27, 2018 12:19 pm

Balerit wrote:
Not to be confused with Comair in South Africa.


Hence the reason many of us refer to it as the 'Continental' accident. And rightfully so; the mother ship has no quarrels selling the flight, marketing the flight, slapping their logo on the flight and taking credit for the flight when all goes well. But the minute something bad happens, it's suddenly an independent contractor with hardly any connections, besides the flight number and livery, to the mother ship. Some will fall for that, some of us won't.
Signature. You just read one.
 
FlyHappy
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sun May 27, 2018 1:54 pm

B777LRF wrote:
Balerit wrote:
Not to be confused with Comair in South Africa.


Hence the reason many of us refer to it as the 'Continental' accident. And rightfully so; the mother ship has no quarrels selling the flight, marketing the flight, slapping their logo on the flight and taking credit for the flight when all goes well. But the minute something bad happens, it's suddenly an independent contractor with hardly any connections, besides the flight number and livery, to the mother ship. Some will fall for that, some of us won't.


Better revise yourself.
Delta Connection ;)
 
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LAX772LR
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Re: Friday May 25, 1979. 39 Years since AA 191 at O'Hare

Sun May 27, 2018 6:16 pm

B777LRF wrote:
Balerit wrote:
Not to be confused with Comair in South Africa.

Hence the reason many of us refer to it as the 'Continental' accident.

Which of course makes no sense, as this was Delta Connection.

You're thinking of the Colgan crash.



B777LRF wrote:
But the minute something bad happens, it's suddenly an independent contractor with hardly any connections, besides the flight number and livery, to the mother ship. Some will fall for that, some of us won't.

Until you realize that that's a common contractual stipulation that the connection carrier willfully agrees to abide by as the operating agent, and it isn't in any way limited to just the airline or even the transportation industry.
I myself, suspect a more prosaic motive... ~Thranduil

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