Air Crash Investigations (also known as Mayday, Air Emergency and Air Disasters) probably isn’t the best television show for you to watch if you’re about to go on a big round the world trip. That’s because this program goes into painstaking detail of how an air accident occurred in the past, and the main and contributing factors that caused it.
I actually quite like Air Crash Investigations. It just reminds me how something so simple can bring a whole plane down out of the sky, which usually kills hundreds of people. I know it’s sad that many lives have been lost due to these crashes, but I’m still amazed at what can cause these things to happen in the first place. This is definitely not a show recommended for people who are scared of flying.
One thing that strikes me about the majority of accidents and near misses that appear on this show is that it’s usually something simple and innocuous that causes the problem which causes a chain of events that lead to disaster. Here is a list of some of the more crazy Air Crash Investigations shows that have left me scratching my head!
I’m guessing that because these have happened once, they won’t happen again. Maybe! But you learn from these things, and flying is still way out in front in terms of the safest way to get from one point to another. You’ve got more chance of being killed when driving to the airport!
Air Crash Investigations – Some Funny Scenarios Because They’re True!
Anyway, here they are!
1. Kid In The Cockpit
Aeroflot seems to make a few appearances on Air Crash Investigations. One of the more unusual incidents was that in March 1994, Aeroflot Flight 593 to Hong Kong stalled and crashed, killing 75 people.
But the reason behind the stall was totally preventable – back in the days were kids were allowed to visit the cockpit to fulfull their lifetime dream, the pilot’s 15 year old son accidentally disabled the autopilot while sitting in the captain’s seat, causing the aircraft to bank heavily to the right creating the stall. I know the pilot thought this was the equivalent of trying to help his offspring pass their driving licence, but it doesn’t work for pilot’s licences!
2. Inflight Entertainment Can be Fatal!
Think again when you turn on the on demand in flight entertainment system with the plethora of movies, television programs and audio tracks. In 1998, a fire broke out on Swissair Flight 111 while in-flight, which caused massive damage to vital systems which eventually caused the plane to crash into the sea off Peggys Cove in Canada with no survivors.
The fire was caused by faulty wiring in the onboard first class entertainment system. Sometimes forking out all of that extra cash for a bit more leg room isn’t worth it!
3. Duct Tape – Isn’t always Useful
Duct tape is probably the most useful invention ever produced by human beings. It has been used to fix almost anything, from motorised equipment to severed limbs. However, this wasn’t the case in October 1996. Not long after take off from the capital of Peru, Lima, the crew of Aeroperú Flight 603 were confused by incorrect speed and altitude readings and contradictory warnings from the aircraft’s data system. In preparation for an emergency landing, the pilot descended the aircraft, but unknowingly descended way too far by relying on the false readings. The plane crashes into the Pacific Ocean, killing everyone on board.
The false readings and warnings were ironically caused by duct tape over the static ports – the duct tape was used to protect the ports during maintenance but was not removed afterwards before take off. D’oh, someone missed that one on the checklist.
4. Pilot Hanging out the Front Window
During June 1990, the cockpit window blew out on British Airways Flight 5390 from Birmingham in England to Malaga in Spain. However, this caused the captain to be partially sucked through the hole. Member(s) of the cabin crew clung to the pilot’s legs as the co-pilot completed an emergency landing. Astonishingly, the captain was found to be still alive after being outside the cockpit for over 20 minutes – and he survived. He only suffered from a bit of frostbite and a few broken bones here and there. Everyone on board the plane was more or less unhurt.
The blow out was caused by a maintenance worker installing incorrectly-sized bolts during maintenance work. He must have asked the wrong guy at the hardware store.
5. Guarding the Dead Drug Mules
In January 1990, Avianca Flight 52 on a flight from Colombia to New York was delayed numerous times by bad weather en route and was low on fuel as it attempted landing. Lots of mis-communication between the crew and traffic control caused this crash. Wind shear forced the crew to abort the approach just 1 mile from the runway which then leaded into a fatal holding pattern by air traffic controllers unaware of the low-fuel situation. The plane then ran out of fuel causing it to crash in Long Island near New York, killing many on board.
However, the entire plane had to be cordoned off and placed under armed guard to ensure that ruthless drug dealers didn’t enter the wreckage to disembowel the dead drug mules to recover the priceless drugs from their stomachs to sell on the streets!
6. Is it Gallons or Litres?
On a flight from Montreal to Edmonton in July 1983, Air Canada Flight 143 ran out of fuel at 41,000 feet (12,000 metres) altitude, about halfway through its flight. Usually, most flights have enough fuel to last the entire flight, and to account for potential delays such as bad weather. However, the crew was able to glide the aircraft safely to an emergency landing at Gimli Industrial Park Airport, a former airbase at Gimli, Manitoba.
Luckily, this scenario could have been so much worse. What caused the plane to run out of fuel was a math error in converting between metric and non-metric units caused the plane to be loaded with insufficient fuel prior to flight.
So if you are ever going to be an aircraft engineer and you are doing the checks on a flight that I’m going to be on, pay attention to maths class.
There you go, there is a list of some of the more unusual Air Crash Investigations. I’m hoping to never, ever being part of one of these in person, even though I’ve flown on some dodgy Russian planes!