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Aloha Airlines Flight 243 Accident
Aloha Airlines was one of the American airlines that operated from a hub in Honolulu international airport and had its headquarters in Honolulu, Hawaii. Its operations ceased on March 31, 2008, after it had operated from July 26, 1946. The airline had several Boeing fleets before it went out of operations. Before the accident with Aloha’s flight 243, the company had also experienced other accidents in 1961 and 1971. Flight 243 occurred on April 28, 1971. This paper discusses the accident and ways in which future accidents can be prevented.
On a fateful day, flight 243 was affected by explosive decompression. This problem left issues related to the maintenance and inspection program together with a dead flight attendant. The Boeing 737-200’s ceiling was torn open during the explosion, and the plane captain could land the plane damaged with a crew on board and 65 passengers. A flight attendant had been jettisoned and was not found. Nothing unusual had been found by the pre-flight inspector, who had a walkaround to inspect the plane before its flight for Honolulu from Hilo. An explosive decompression happened when the plane ascended 24,000 feet (Al-Mukhtar, 2019, pp. 11-18). The aircraft’s roof flew off at the moment, and a flight attendant Clarabelle Lansing who was 58 years old, got ejected into the atmosphere from row 5.
The accident happened when Tompkins, the co-pilot, was flying the aircraft. The captain took over the plane and steered it to begin an emergency descend, and he managed to land it without them losing any more lives. Another flight attendant and some passengers were injured, in addition to the jettisoned attendant. Later on, it was found out that a passenger had reported damage that did not reach the crew just before the plane departure. The anomaly that cost the flight attendant’s life and risked others’ was a crack on the longitudinal fuselage. After checks were done, it was discovered that it was a fissure in the rivets’ upper row along with the S-10 lap joint at the stringer (Ostrom & Wilhelmsen, 2020, pp. 271-276). Between the jet bridge, hood, and the cabin door was the failure’s approximate location.
The plane was damaged too much that it was dismantled on site. Apart from that damage, the aircraft also had dented horizontal stabilizers, and the debris had damaged these stabilizers from the plane. It was disclosed by a further investigation into the accident that the cause of the primary damage on the plane was due to the total separation of other fuselage structures and upper crown skin (Gomes et al., 2021). According to the videos taken during the flight and after, the failure ran 18 feet extending from the main cabin’s aft to the entrance door aft. It was determined by the National Transport Safety Board that the AQs maintenance program’s failure to detect fatigue damage and presence of significant disbanding was the accident’s probable cause, probably because the inspection of the fuselage was done at night.
To prevent future accidents, airline companies must set up easily accessible channels to report any suspicions about planes to the relevant authorities. It is also critical that more than one person do an inspection of the fuselage, at least three, during the day to eliminate all possibilities of not detecting any irregularities on planes. From this accident, I have learned that it is important to take serious account of issues, even those that seem to be of minor importance, instead of ignoring and later culminating into serious problems.
Al-Mukhtar, A. M. (2019). Case studies of aircraft fuselage cracking. In Advanced Engineering Forum (Vol. 33, pp. 11-18). Trans Tech Publications Ltd.
Gomes, G., Oliveira, T., & Evangelista Jr, F. (2021). A Probabilistic Approach in Fuselage Damage Analysis via Boundary Element Method. In Advances in Fatigue and Fracture Testing and Modelling. IntechOpen.
Ostrom, L. T., & Wilhelmsen, C. A. (2020, September). Remote Inspection. In International Conference on Human Systems Engineering and Design: Future Trends and Applications (pp. 271-276). Springer, Cham.