Moderators: jsumali2, richierich, ua900, PanAm_DC10, hOMSaR

 
SUNCTRY738
Topic Author
Posts: 138
Joined: Sun May 14, 2017 3:39 am

AS and flight 261's aftermath

Mon Oct 14, 2019 10:09 pm

I am a fan of Alaska Airlines so no flaming or unfair slamming of AS. But after yet again watching the Air Disaster episode for the MD-80 flight 261 crash, I can't help but wonder how did AS overcome and then thrive after such a horrible crash where they accepted liability and were found negligent? It appeared to have a significant impact on the airline, including in their hometown of Seattle. Here is a quote from one local media member:

Candy Hatcher of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer said: "Many lost faith in Alaska Airlines, a homegrown company that had taken pride in its safety record and billed itself as a family airline."

Others like Valujet had to change their name to survive. Yet AS remained with out any significant marketing changes after the fall out and aftermath from the crash.
 
User avatar
Stitch
Posts: 27302
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2005 4:26 am

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Mon Oct 14, 2019 10:16 pm

ValuJet was a young airline that evidently had a poor safety culture from the start. Alaska Air Group had scores of years of quality and safe operations so AS 261 was possibly seen as an aberration even if it was caused by poor maintenance practices and therefore while their reputation was tarnished for a time, their customer base continued to believe in the airline (I've been a customer of theirs for decades and I continued to book travel with them after AS 261).
 
LAXBUR
Posts: 412
Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2018 1:05 pm

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Tue Oct 15, 2019 12:33 am

Um ok. What is the question? What is your point? Or better yet why do you feel Alaska's crash is different than any other air accident in modern aviation history? Did United change their name? Did American? Comparing Alaska to ValuJet is really silly. No one should really have to point this out.

Regardless what people say on here passengers have short term memories and/or will always think with their pocketbook. There may be some short term avoidance but if the fare and/or times are right, they'll book it. I worked for Alaska from '04-'07 and people would bring it up to be nasty. One guy told me he couldn't believe I worked for an airline that killed people. He seemed to not consider he was flying Alaska and bought the ticket.
 
SeaDoo
Posts: 309
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2016 3:00 am

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Tue Oct 15, 2019 1:28 am

My perception was this didn't badly effect Alaska's reputation. Yes there was a mistake made and safely 88 souls perished.

After this crash pilots I heard pilots were "testing" the horizontal stabilizer prior to flight by moving it through the whole range from top to bottom and that actually was making it more likely for there to be a problem with it in the future so they were instructed not to do this.
 
CATIIIevery5yrs
Posts: 172
Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2016 4:40 am

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:23 am

I may be wrong but I’m pretty sure they were one of the first US air carriers to take on a modern and functioning SMS program. I’d assume that had something to do with changing culture post accident.
 
SUNCTRY738
Topic Author
Posts: 138
Joined: Sun May 14, 2017 3:39 am

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:50 am

[quote="LAXBUR"]Um ok. What is the question? What is your point? Or better yet why do you feel Alaska's crash is different than any other air accident in modern aviation history?

Because the NTSB found that AS had made unsafe cuts to their maintenance program to save money as they transitioned to a low cost carrier to compete with WN.
 
User avatar
Pudelhund
Posts: 261
Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2019 11:06 pm

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:56 am

Stitch wrote:
ValuJet was a young airline that evidently had a poor safety culture from the start. Alaska Air Group had scores of years of quality and safe operations so AS 261 was possibly seen as an aberration even if it was caused by poor maintenance practices and therefore while their reputation was tarnished for a time, their customer base continued to believe in the airline (I've been a customer of theirs for decades and I continued to book travel with them after AS 261).


Wasn't AS in front of congress before 261 happened specifically because of complaints about their maintenance practices at the time?
 
SUNCTRY738
Topic Author
Posts: 138
Joined: Sun May 14, 2017 3:39 am

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:03 am

An AS maintenance employee had come forward to the feds as a whistleblower against the company and its cost cutting. There was an investigation underway at the time of the crash of 261.

Not many airlines had an employee reporting against them as a whistleblower at the time of a major crash.
 
MR27122
Posts: 133
Joined: Sat May 06, 2017 3:00 am

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:10 am

LAXBUR wrote:
Um ok. What is the question? What is your point? Or better yet why do you feel Alaska's crash is different than any other air accident in modern aviation history? Did United change their name? Did American? Comparing Alaska to ValuJet is really silly. No one should really have to point this out.

Regardless what people say on here passengers have short term memories and/or will always think with their pocketbook. There may be some short term avoidance but if the fare and/or times are right, they'll book it. I worked for Alaska from '04-'07 and people would bring it up to be nasty. One guy told me he couldn't believe I worked for an airline that killed people. He seemed to not consider he was flying Alaska and bought the ticket.


In many respects your correct re: the paying public & memories. Pax's bringing the topic up years after, is rude & crude.

However, a point of significance is the time ( >1 year) it takes for causation to be determined. This accident exposed extreme deficiencies re: AS maintenance---yet brand loyalty & trust had been regained when those deficiencies became public. Also, based upon my very limited recall, this accident was unique in many regards...including the flight crews decision to continue the flight & hand fly after the initial failure & thus overfly hundreds (?) of suitable diversion airports. Also, at the time, AS was a legacy regional so I suspect the OP is suggesting this accident inflicted more image damage than other's w/ national legacy carriers.

How ValuJet survived is miraculous (albeit direct fault was attributed to a 3rd party---SabreTech(?) that did fail in the aftermath. ValuJet was grounded for 3 (?) months & the FAA was everywhere/anywhere once they resumed flying. Yet new airplanes (MD-90), a new brand-identity, & re-positioning themselves slightly up-market proved to be a success.

The accident that is, in my opinion, closer in resemblance to 261 is Swissair 111. The Captain of 111 possessed a lack of immediacy & was concerned w/ cabin preparations & fuel dumping while the "problem" continued to deteriorate & ultimately no more time existed...even w/ the FO attempting to "up the urgency" to just get on the ground.
 
hiflyeras
Posts: 2284
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 6:48 pm

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:23 am

As someone that lost friends and has nightmares still of this painful time, it's hard to see it rehashed.
 
WN732
Posts: 823
Joined: Sat Feb 26, 2011 12:49 am

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Tue Oct 15, 2019 4:53 am

SUNCTRY738 wrote:
An AS maintenance employee had come forward to the feds as a whistleblower against the company and its cost cutting. There was an investigation underway at the time of the crash of 261.

Not many airlines had an employee reporting against them as a whistleblower at the time of a major crash.


His name was John Leotene. There was a bit about him in the episode. Which was then followed up by an interview from Scary Mary.
 
juliuswong
Posts: 2021
Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2016 3:22 am

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Tue Oct 15, 2019 6:18 am

WN732 wrote:
SUNCTRY738 wrote:
An AS maintenance employee had come forward to the feds as a whistleblower against the company and its cost cutting. There was an investigation underway at the time of the crash of 261.

Not many airlines had an employee reporting against them as a whistleblower at the time of a major crash.


His name was John Leotene. There was a bit about him in the episode. Which was then followed up by an interview from Scary Mary.

His employment with AS didn't end well. AS ended up putting him on unpaid leave for being disruptive, John sued AS for defamatory allegation.

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm ... story.html
- Life is a journey, travel it well -
 
User avatar
EA CO AS
Posts: 15765
Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2001 8:54 am

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Tue Oct 15, 2019 6:38 am

hiflyeras wrote:
As someone that lost friends and has nightmares still of this painful time, it's hard to see it rehashed.


Same here. I was a frontline supervisor in reservations when 261 happened and remember consoling the agents in tears for years afterward when horrible people would call and ask them, “So, how many people did you kill today?” or “Do you fly from Puerto Vallarta to just off the coast of Los Angeles?”

The whole safety culture changed, almost overnight. AS was one of the first, if not the first U.S. carrier to have their Safety Management System validated by the government. Every employee had it drilled into their head, even to this day, that they’re empowered to stop the operation at any time, without reprisal or consequence, if they feel there’s a safety issue.
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan

Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
 
TTailedTiger
Posts: 2696
Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2018 5:19 am

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Tue Oct 15, 2019 6:42 am

SUNCTRY738 wrote:
LAXBUR wrote:
Um ok. What is the question? What is your point? Or better yet why do you feel Alaska's crash is different than any other air accident in modern aviation history?

Because the NTSB found that AS had made unsafe cuts to their maintenance program to save money as they transitioned to a low cost carrier to compete with WN.


AS is a low-cost carrier? News to me. I recently took them to SAN since they and F9 are the only ones who fly nonstop from MCO. I paid over $600 each way for AS. F9 was less half the price.
 
SUNCTRY738
Topic Author
Posts: 138
Joined: Sun May 14, 2017 3:39 am

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Tue Oct 15, 2019 10:24 am

EA CO AS wrote:
hiflyeras wrote:
As someone that lost friends and has nightmares still of this painful time, it's hard to see it rehashed.


Same here. I was a frontline supervisor in reservations when 261 happened and remember consoling the agents in tears for years afterward when horrible people would call and ask them, “So, how many people did you kill today?” or “Do you fly from Puerto Vallarta to just off the coast of Los Angeles?”

The whole safety culture changed, almost overnight. AS was one of the first, if not the first U.S. carrier to have their Safety Management System validated by the government. Every employee had it drilled into their head, even to this day, that they’re empowered to stop the operation at any time, without reprisal or consequence, if they feel there’s a safety issue.


Very interesting information--thank you and sorry to both you and hyflyeras for your losses.
 
SUNCTRY738
Topic Author
Posts: 138
Joined: Sun May 14, 2017 3:39 am

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Tue Oct 15, 2019 10:25 am

SUNCTRY738 wrote:
EA CO AS wrote:
hiflyeras wrote:
As someone that lost friends and has nightmares still of this painful time, it's hard to see it rehashed.


Same here. I was a frontline supervisor in reservations when 261 happened and remember consoling the agents in tears for years afterward when horrible people would call and ask them, “So, how many people did you kill today?” or “Do you fly from Puerto Vallarta to just off the coast of Los Angeles?”

The whole safety culture changed, almost overnight. AS was one of the first, if not the first U.S. carrier to have their Safety Management System validated by the government. Every employee had it drilled into their head, even to this day, that they’re empowered to stop the operation at any time, without reprisal or consequence, if they feel there’s a safety issue.


Very interesting information--thank you and I am sorry to both you and hyflyeras for your losses. This information makes a lot of sense given how AS has thrived since this tragedy.
 
User avatar
MD80
Posts: 768
Joined: Sun Feb 16, 2014 3:29 pm

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Tue Oct 15, 2019 10:36 am

MR27122 wrote:
Yet new airplanes (MD-90), a new brand-identity, & re-positioning themselves slightly up-market proved to be a success.


ValuJet ordered MD-95s, not MD-90s.
Dedicated to the MD-80, MD-90, MD-95, and DC-9: www.MD-80.com
 
MR27122
Posts: 133
Joined: Sat May 06, 2017 3:00 am

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Tue Oct 15, 2019 11:58 am

MD80 wrote:
MR27122 wrote:
Yet new airplanes (MD-90), a new brand-identity, & re-positioning themselves slightly up-market proved to be a success.


ValuJet ordered MD-95s, not MD-90s.


ya..I tried to edit that & duplicated my post & couldn't un-duplicate & it was a cluster....so, what's a 0 v. a 5 amongst avgeeks :D
 
trnswrld
Posts: 1385
Joined: Sat May 22, 1999 2:19 am

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Tue Oct 15, 2019 1:36 pm

The post above about the pilots of AS261 continuing flying instead of immediately diverting is sort of news to me. I have read a lot of info and yes I could have missed it, but I was almost certain they were trouble shooting the problem from the get go and did their best to just keep that airplane in the air as long as they did. Yes diverting would be a priority, but it sounds like the pilots did one of the most important things and focus on flying the aircraft first, then once properly diagnosed and stabilized focus on a diversion airport. Unfortunately the situation only got worse and the airplane was not flyable.
 
User avatar
EA CO AS
Posts: 15765
Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2001 8:54 am

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:48 pm

trnswrld wrote:
The post above about the pilots of AS261 continuing flying instead of immediately diverting is sort of news to me. .


Thing is, they did attempt to divert. The flight was PVRSFO, not PVRLAX. LAX was their diversion airport.
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan

Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
 
WN732
Posts: 823
Joined: Sat Feb 26, 2011 12:49 am

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Tue Oct 15, 2019 4:12 pm

trnswrld wrote:
The post above about the pilots of AS261 continuing flying instead of immediately diverting is sort of news to me. I have read a lot of info and yes I could have missed it, but I was almost certain they were trouble shooting the problem from the get go and did their best to just keep that airplane in the air as long as they did. Yes diverting would be a priority, but it sounds like the pilots did one of the most important things and focus on flying the aircraft first, then once properly diagnosed and stabilized focus on a diversion airport. Unfortunately the situation only got worse and the airplane was not flyable.


The problem with what they did was running the trim motors back and forth after the stabilizer was fully jammed. It was when they tried both the alternate and primary motors at the same time, the stabilizer moved and lost control. At that point the stabilizer was held in place by a nut which failed and the airplane crashed. Had they diverted with the stabilizer jammed in its original position they would have been able to safely land.
 
flyingcat
Posts: 530
Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 10:33 am

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Tue Oct 15, 2019 4:18 pm

I am not familiar with the Mad Dog, Can that aircraft actually be landed solely using the trim tab stabilizer.

Just curious if that was ever a viable option? Has this ever been tried or simulated?
 
32andBelow
Posts: 5032
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 2:54 am

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Tue Oct 15, 2019 5:38 pm

trnswrld wrote:
The post above about the pilots of AS261 continuing flying instead of immediately diverting is sort of news to me. I have read a lot of info and yes I could have missed it, but I was almost certain they were trouble shooting the problem from the get go and did their best to just keep that airplane in the air as long as they did. Yes diverting would be a priority, but it sounds like the pilots did one of the most important things and focus on flying the aircraft first, then once properly diagnosed and stabilized focus on a diversion airport. Unfortunately the situation only got worse and the airplane was not flyable.

If you read the report there there was communications with maintenance control who may have been pressuring the crew to try to complete the flight. This is something that is taught now to never pressure a captain once he’s in the air on a decision like this. If they want to divert, they divert.
EA CO AS wrote:
trnswrld wrote:
The post above about the pilots of AS261 continuing flying instead of immediately diverting is sort of news to me. .


Thing is, they did attempt to divert. The flight was PVRSFO, not PVRLAX. LAX was their diversion airport.
yes but they were north of LAX and already knew about the issue.
 
stratosphere
Posts: 1881
Joined: Sat Sep 22, 2007 12:45 pm

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Tue Oct 15, 2019 5:53 pm

SeaDoo wrote:
My perception was this didn't badly effect Alaska's reputation. Yes there was a mistake made and safely 88 souls perished.

After this crash pilots I heard pilots were "testing" the horizontal stabilizer prior to flight by moving it through the whole range from top to bottom and that actually was making it more likely for there to be a problem with it in the future so they were instructed not to do this.


Yep I worked for NWA and we had DC-9s with the same stab trim design and our pilots were doing the same thing and burning up trim motors. I had to change a lot of them after the AS crash.
 
MR27122
Posts: 133
Joined: Sat May 06, 2017 3:00 am

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Tue Oct 15, 2019 6:53 pm

From NTSB Final Report
<narrative>
About 1337, the accident airplanedeparted PVR as flight 261.
23,400 feet at 331 knots indicated airspeed (KIAS), the
CVR recorded the horizontal stabilizer move from 0.25° to 0.4° airplane nose down.10
This was the last horizontal stabilizer movement recorded until the airplaneís initial dive
about 2 hours and 20 minutes later.
At 1353:12, when the airplane was climbing through
28,557 feet at 296 KIAS, the autopilot disengaged.
FDR information and airplane performance calculations indicated that, during the
next 7 minutes, the airplane continued to climb at a much slower rate. During this part of
the ascent, the elevators were deflected between -1° and -3°, and the airplane was flown
manually using up to as much as 50 pounds of control column pulling force.11 After
reaching level flight, the airplane was flown for about 24 minutes using approximately
30 pounds of pulling force at approximately 31,050 feet and 280 KIAS. The airspeed was
then increased to 301 KIAS, and the [i]airplane was flown for almost another 1 hour
22 minutes using about 10 pounds of pulling force
. At 1546:59, the autopilot was
re-engaged.
...the CVR transcript at 1549:4912 to discuss a jammed
horizontal stabilizer and a possible diversion to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)...[/i]

I'm absolutely 100% certifiably NO EXPERT. 261 dep KPVR @ 1:[email protected] 1:53PM while still on initial climb to cruise---the autopilot disconnected (16 mins into the flight). The crew than hand-flew w/ 50lbs, 30lbs, & 10lbs of "column force"---the autopilot wasn't re-engaged until 3:49PM approx 2hrs after it had disengaged. At 3:49PM. I believe the crew first engaged AS "...maintenance control facilities in SEA..." PRIOR to this time, but this was when a "possible diversion" was due to a "jammed horizontal stabilizer" was broached. Thereafter---AS maintenance appeared to be guiding the crew to continue onward to SFO (AS Maintenance Facility?)---however the crew started to realize the issue was pretty severe & they were given "block altitudes" to troubleshoot & configure for what would be a faster than normal approach into LAX (diversion)...I believe they realized that flaps exaggerated the "issue".

The crew battled valiantly/bravely....but, isn't it very much outside of the normal "envelope" to be forced to "hand fly" an MD-83 w/ pressure on the yoke for nearly 2 hours---& overfly 100's/1,000's of possible diversion airports?
 
flymia
Posts: 7129
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2001 6:33 am

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Tue Oct 15, 2019 9:46 pm

I think it is also important to realize in the early 2000s commercial aviation crashes in the U.S. were not as incredibly rare as they are now. AA had two crashes in 1990s and another in 2001. United and U.S. Air both had crashes in the 1990s too. Value Jet in 1996 and TWA-800, multiple commuter planes crashed in the 1990s. Egypt Air 990 crashed in the U.S. too. U.S. Air has two in a matter of a few months in 1994.

To put it simply, airline crashes while still rare, were somewhat more normalized compared to today. I am not surprised a large airline like AS survived it at all. AA did, US did, and every other airline that has had a crash did.
"It was just four of us on the flight deck, trying to do our job" (Captain Al Haynes)
 
User avatar
NameOmitted
Posts: 913
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2016 7:59 pm

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Tue Oct 15, 2019 9:46 pm

Oh, it's time for this thread again. That tv episode must be very evocative.

This disaster was a maintenance disaster, made possible by extended maintenance intervals that were approved by the FAA.

Many of us were shaken by the crash; it involved some very well known Alaskans, and its a small state. At the end If the day it came after decades of safe travel in and out of some of the trickiest airports on the continent.

There was talk about diversion airports, but there was also talk of the pilots wanting to understand what had happened to their craft before taking it over populated areas.
 
MR27122
Posts: 133
Joined: Sat May 06, 2017 3:00 am

Re: AS and flight 261's aftermath

Wed Oct 16, 2019 4:54 pm

NameOmitted wrote:
Oh, it's time for this thread again. That tv episode must be very evocative.

This disaster was a maintenance disaster, made possible by extended maintenance intervals that were approved by the FAA.

Many of us were shaken by the crash; it involved some very well known Alaskans, and its a small state. At the end If the day it came after decades of safe travel in and out of some of the trickiest airports on the continent.

There was talk about diversion airports, but there was also talk of the pilots wanting to understand what had happened to their craft before taking it over populated areas.


261 was a very unfortunate accident. Based upon comments, it appears to have vastly changed the "culture" that existed @ AS.

The question of diverting remains. The crew was "hand-flying" 16 mins after dep & before reaching cruise...furthermore, it wasn't simply "hand-flying", it was "hand-flying" in a manner (nose down column force) to maintain stability. 2hrs of "hand-flying" w/ forward-pressure on the control-column while "troubleshooting" appears to be an extreme (no disrespect intended towards the pilots). The destination wx @ SFO wasn't ideal. (Again my expert credibility is 0%...& it's way too easy to second-guess).

MZT, SJD, TIJ, SAN (close to the shoreline)---ret to PVR(?) & many other diversion airports were flown over while "hand-flying". 

If concern existed w/ regard to populated areas, landing to the West @ LAX would appear to be the least desirable. Uncertain of the winds---but perhaps an "any runway" approach from the East into LAX might've been an option, however it was going to be a "very fast" landing due to the flap deployment causing a nearly total upset & loss of control.

The fact that the issue was causing the AS crew to forcefully "hand-fly" for 2hrs (they knew it was a stabilizer issue), would appear to be an instance wherein immediately landing took precedent over "understanding". Albeit, in preparation & testing different configurations prior to an immediate diversion....it appears the end-result would've been identical to the tragic end-result. Were they---for lack of a better word---"screwed" (no "jackscrew" pun intended)--from the moment they departed PVR?  

Popular Searches On Airliners.net

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos