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Airbus Commander

Interesting Documentary On the 737NG

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Maybe this is a dumb observation, but all three aircraft they point out crashed with wheels down (and, as we know, due to pilot error). The 707 they compared to (which, as pointed out above, had a much shallower descent) crash-landed wheels up. I would think that has to be a contributing factor. An out-of-limits hard landing with wheels down would probably create severe stress points in front of and behind the strongest area on the aircraft, the wing box. So I can't say I'm surprised they broke up where they did. I also vaguely seem to recall other crashes where similar break-ups occurred on other models as well, so I'm not convinced the straps they talk about have contributed to any failure, YET. But if what they say about the manufacturing process is true, then certainly there's serious cause to take action.


Tony Wilko

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The biggest fault with the NG is the bloody cockpit is too small! Not enough room to stretch out!Jack C
Trust me, my back found out about this while I was photographing it lol... wasn't even enough room for the tripod.

Ryan Maziarz
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Firstly, I'd hesitate to say anything too disparaging about Al Jazeera. It's no more or less reputable than any other news network out there really, but yes, this story is a bit cruddy. In any story where ex-employees (or disgruntled employees) are involved in questioning the practices or standards of their employer, immediately questions spring to mind: What is their agenda, are they aggrieved, looking for revenge and so on?The fact that Boeing has put over 6,000 737's into service speaks volumes for the success and reliability of the type. Sure, airplanes will crash, but as Ryan points out, SO few 737's have crashed because of manufacturing faults. The one example that most people will remember is the Aloha 737 where the freakin' ROOF tore off the forward fuselage, and the plane landed successfully, if anything that tells just how WELL built the aiplane is that it can suffer such a significant failure and still stay flying!( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aloha_Airlines_Flight_243 if you're interested)She's a good bird, guys. :)


Mark Adeane - NZWN
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Firstly, I'd hesitate to say anything too disparaging about Al Jazeera. It's no more or less reputable than any other news network out there really, but yes, this story is a bit cruddy.
Give me one major media outlet outside of Seattle which has a good grasp on issues related to aviation and aircraft manufacturing.IMO the real issue here is whether Boeing deliberately allowed a manufacturing defect to exist on a safety critical component, without informing the customer airlines and the authorities. By looking at the internal Boeing memo and the DCIS report it is strongly implied that they did. This means that airlines are potentially flying hundreds of legally unairworthy aircraft and it will have major implications on insurance and liability should an accident happen.This reminded me of the DC-10's cargo door problem, McD knew about it but didn't act until it was too late.

Iain H Chan (See profile for my PC specs)

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I have to agree with the majority of the above statements, IMHO the crashes of the 737's that broke into three peices wasn't really related to the fact that that part was manufactured badly, It just points out that those three points are the weakest on the 737, no big deal, every structure has some points on it weaker than others.But where I do see a problem arise is that, although the planes may be flying and incredibly safely at that, their safety levels would be increased if the parts were manufactured better. There's no disputing that, but we all know the costs of removing an aircraft from service, and in the end of the day, we really don't know how much safer the 737 would be if those parts were changed.It could be negilable or significant and that is where the rub is.


Rónán O Cadhain.

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Firstly, I'd hesitate to say anything too disparaging about Al Jazeera. It's no more or less reputable than any other news network out there really, but yes, this story is a bit cruddy. In any story where ex-employees (or disgruntled employees) are involved in questioning the practices or standards of their employer, immediately questions spring to mind: What is their agenda, are they aggrieved, looking for revenge and so on?The fact that Boeing has put over 6,000 737's into service speaks volumes for the success and reliability of the type. Sure, airplanes will crash, but as Ryan points out, SO few 737's have crashed because of manufacturing faults. The one example that most people will remember is the Aloha 737 where the freakin' ROOF tore off the forward fuselage, and the plane landed successfully, if anything that tells just how WELL built the aiplane is that it can suffer such a significant failure and still stay flying!( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aloha_Airlines_Flight_243 if you're interested)She's a good bird, guys. :)
My professor was the guy who they, the gov't, asked to do fatigue testing on airframes after this craft. It has nothing to do with the structural supports for the plane...those did beautifully. Instead it was where two outer layers joined. They are joined by a "glue" and a few rows of rivets. Well due to the very high moisture content of the airplanes environment, the glue started to wear off. Instead all of the stresses were put on the rivets to hold the layers together. This forced a stress concentration at the countersinks of the rivets. This created cracks and in turn tore the roof of the plane off. Also a little fun thing you all should do when getting on a plane. At the door look at the thickness of the fuselage. Its on a magnitude of about .1 in thick. Yes there are just a few rows of rivets holding two layers of that together when they need to overlap...other than that...it's that layer and the air. If people knew how planes fly and what they are made out of, they wouldn't fly. But I'm sure a good few of you know that one...but I will trust an airframe because it is one of the most analyzed bodies ever designed even though its factor of safety is about 2 compared to 10 for a building.

Steven Penninck

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Guest tima414

I don't trust Aljazeera or any news outlet to discuss plane crashes. I shut it off once I saw that ex-boeing employee bashing the company saying its only about money. Tim

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Al,You said: "the film makes several deliberate errors in relation to this test footage in an attempt to support its assertion, notably, claiming that the 707 crash test was intended to test the structural integrity of the aircraft in an impact. This is completely untrue, it was in fact a test designed to deliberately rip open the fuel tanks so that a prototype fuel additive which would supposedly 'gel' aviation fuel on shock impact to prevent it misting into an inflammable vapour, could be tested (a test which it failed incidentally)How do you know that was all they intended to test? This is taken from Globalsecurity.com, explaining the 1984 test: "Although the 720 was considered obsolete, its structural design and construction were still representative of narrow-body transport aircraft in use at that time. Two major objectives were included in the tests: (1) to test an antimisting kerosene fuel in an FAA program to reduce the severity of aircraft crash fires and (2) to study structural crashworthiness." You also said:

The really dodgy part however, is that the film then claims the 707 impacted at a much higher speed than the 737 which crashed at Schiphol, this is deliberately misleading, because whilst the 707 was flying at a higher speed, it did not impact at a higher speed than the Schiphol 737, which was in a stalled condition when it slammed into the ground, so the 737's forward speed was slower, but its vertical impact speed was in fact much higher than that of the 707. It is deliberately falsifying 'evidence' such as this in order to support claims which throws doubt on all the other evidence, since if they can make that up, how do we know they aren't making other stuff up? In short, it is an example of very poor reportage which shoots itself in the &@($* as far as credibility is concerned.
How do you know they were falsifying evidence? That's quite an accusation, we can't expect everyone to have an in-depth knowledge of the laws of physics. To call them liars and crooks I think would be unjustified. Yes, the vertical impact speed might have been higher due to the stall at around 500ft, but the 707 did indeed impact the ground very hard at an awkward angle which was not the intenton of the people performing the test. The 707 was supposed to land wings level and in a stable forward descent. The fuselage took one hell of a beating, and yet it stayed intact. Compared to the AA crash in Jamaica for instance where the 737 overshot the runway at a measly 62 knots and managed to break into 3 seperate parts. The other 737 on the Colombian island crash-landed just before the start of the runway, and then continued to skid onto and along the runway. It too managed to break into 3 seperate parts in exactly the same points on the fuselage, just like the other 2. Is this normal? I don't know, maybe it is. Let's not forget though that the FAA guy and the aircraft manufacturing expert both said that airplanes are not supposed to break apart like that. Interesting film nonetheless.
I agree with Al, that article is garbage. The NG has an amazing safety record - pretty much every accident one's ever been involved in had nothing to do with the aircraft itself, all pilot error/fatigue etc. Runway overruns, stalls on approach, diving it into the water thinking it's on autopilot when it isn't etc...
I think the film was quite interesting. We can't just dismiss what all those people had to say as garbage. That's the kind of attitude that gets people killed, it's clearly something worth looking into. Here are some images of the 3 crashes all with exactly the same damage to the fuselage:737crashes.jpgLinks to images:http://activerain.co...ingston-jamaicahttp://www.appletrav...es/colombia.jpghttp://nycaviation.c...a-737-2-600.jpghttp://www.ed.nl/mul...FC_1050646b.JPGhttp://i.dailymail.c...797_468x346.jpg707 test:http://www.globalsec...rcraft/b720.htmMD-82 runway overshoot resulting in similar fuselage damage:http://en.wikipedia....nes_Flight_1420

Emil Bjornholt - Norway - ENGM

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Emil,Take note that the structural breaks all occurred at places other than where the reinforcement plates are placed, which is the object of discussion. If the breaks occur in places other than the supposed "weak spots," then the evidence is actually stacked more against their argument than for.Your quick analysis of the AA crash in Jamaica understates the conditions, as well. A 707 impacting strakes in a desert (essentially flat land), versus the airports of Jamaica (and I'm not sure at which one the accident occurred, but the layouts are nearly identical), where each runway essentially has a drop into a body of water, or onto a road surface, likely with uneven terrain.While I agree with you that certain information should not be immediately dismissed, at the same time, information should not be immediately accepted without the proper vetting. If I told you that you shouldn't go skiing at Ådneram skitrekk because it's horrible and boring and not as good as Ålsheia, you'd want to check to see if I've actually even been to both before you accept my judgment. Or, in other terms, if I claim a certain sim developer's product was dismal, you'd want to make sure I have it or have used it before you make your judgment, because I could just be spouting someone else's ignorant opinion of how it functions (and this information is often the incorrect with realistic add-ons because people don't take the time to learn how they work, yet they'll write how horrible they were in said ignorance).The trick is balancing yourself in the middle, where you accept enough information to be knowledgeable, while rejecting the information that is not applicable or is not authentic. The problem with trusting human testimony over hard evidence (written or otherwise) is that perception changes over time and facts can be misconstrued and even completely erased from memory because the brain attempts to cover up all of the holes and inconsistencies. Also keep in mind that other people further misconstrue this evidence through clever editing and taking the information out of context (although, in some cases, it is a simple misunderstanding of the important parts of a point or quote). There is a famous example where a reporter stated that the plane that hit the Pentagon on 9/11 "looked like a missile," which further fueled the conspiracy theorists missile-not-airplane theory, when in fact he was only referring to the fact that the aircraft was going so fast and low that it looked as if it could be a missile, not that it was. His quote was taken out of context, and rampantly recirculated. There is also a quote from a lady up in Shanksville that said "it sounded like an atomic bomb," which they used as evidence that it was a bomb and not a missile. But what are her credentials? When was the last time someone (specifically, the woman) heard an atomic bomb? If not an atomic bomb, a bomb in general? Is she an ordinance expert? No. Probably not. She was sitting in her house, in the middle of the day and heard a loud bang. She then used hyperbole to indicate that the loud bang wasn't akin to a door being slammed, or a car crash; it was something completely out of the norm. Again, this bad information was preyed upon and rampantly recirculated. That rampant recirculation of bad evidence/data/etc is what we must, as a global society, resist. Everyone wants transparency in government and corporations, but the government and corporations resist because information can be misconstrued and used against them. Information can be dangerous, and too few understand that concept.I'll put it this way.A 747 pilot says on the intercom: "We've had an engine failure. We are going to divert to another airport and swap aircraft."Keep in mind, the thing is well-equipped to fly on 3 engines to the destination relatively safely, but I can guarantee most of the passengers will get off the plane and go spouting to the media the following:"It was a harrowing experience. We could have died. This airline must be unsafe."Meanwhile, the root cause for the engine out condition was determined to be the ingestion of a Condor. When that comes out, however, the damage is already done. But was their analysis true? You see it with aviation all the time, too, since a news outlet will find anyone who's even flown in an aircraft and call them an expert. This is also avoiding the fact that there are people working for the airlines who haven't the slightest clue why or how things work the way they do. Even some pilots.If anyone wants a point by point disassembly of the video, I'll do it. I did it for the Alex Jones 9/11 conspiracy videos, and I can probably pick out at least a couple issues for this video.


Kyle Rodgers

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Kyle,First of all, how do we know for sure that the structural breaks occured at places other than where the reinforcement plates were placed? It would be great if we could get that confirmed, then it would be much easier to dismiss those accidents as something else entirely. I've tried to search for some 737NG fuselage schematics, but to no avail. Anyway, I see your point about how people often times get confused, exaggerate and so on, in fact that's what your whole post was about. But is it really that easy? Everyone could be crazy people right? We never know, but there's comes a time when we just have to look at the facts and make a decision. These people were former Boeing employees who were sent as an internal audit team to investigate alleged quality control and regulatory compliance problems with parts manufactured by Ducommun. They found out that Ducommun were not making the parts correctly, and went to their boss who consequently told them to shut up. Now they were faced with two choices: Protecting themselves which meant ignoring what they saw, or turn into whistleblowers. They chose the latter as we witnessed in the video. Why would they do this? We also heard from a former FAA official and an aircraft manufacturing expert, as well as the lawyer who got their case. These people did not strike me as liars or confused individuals, and it's a little hard to dismiss them as such when they got hard evidence in the form of government letters, emails and other documents supporting their claims.I urge you to take a look at the documents Al Jazeera submitted in the article. They are in PDF format and consist of around 160 pages of interesting information.


Emil Bjornholt - Norway - ENGM

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The "former" of all of the titles really bothers me. I understand that whistleblowers, or those in conflict between a job and "what's right" are generally somehow forced out of the job/industry, but "former" also means they may have an axe to grind. The issue seems to be more at the level of the supplier, rather than the manufacturer. If it passes Boeing's metrics, then it seems to be good enough to fit on the actual aircraft. While it's true, nothing we have currently can match computer precision, but they made aircraft in the past by hand, which didn't cause too many issues.I really find it irritating that they keep using a shot of an Embraer 170 in the video.As far as your question goes, pertaining to the crashes, the video and investigation pertain to reinforcement around the doors. You can see from the video and the pictures above that the breaking points are not at the doors. The repair manual really offers no support to their argument. To be honest, failure of any part of the primary structure could be catastrophic. It is my belief that they point it out because it is not as obvious that these parts could cause problems. We've seen before in the 747 and DC-10 that something as small as a door lock on a baggage bin can cause catastrophic failure.I'll watch more of the video and give my reaction later.I don't assume everyone's crazy. I just assume they are not 100% credible until proven otherwise. I understand at some point we must "face the facts" but credentials are facts, are they not?


Kyle Rodgers

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We can't just dismiss what all those people had to say as garbage. That's the kind of attitude that gets people killed, it's clearly something worth looking into.
Maybe not garbage but not far from it. Rather than wasting time on how many pieces aircraft splits they should concentrate what lead to those accidents that made the aircraft disintegrate in the first place. Second, as a physicist I question the basic premise that somehow it further endangers passengers. Actually if structure collapses it absorbs some additional impact energy. By the way Al Jazeera has zero credibility for me. I rather stick with specialized, technical aviation sources.

Michael J.

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Second, as a physicist I question the basic premise that somehow it further endangers passengers. Actually if structure collapses it absorbs some additional impact energy.
I had a thought about that, but never brought myself to say it because I couldn't back it up with anything at the moment. My best example would have been crumple zones on cars, but cars and aircraft are vastly different, though they share similarities and physics is physics.As I'm watching the video, the "whistleblowers'" lack of trust in the government is somewhat saddening. To be honest, I'm not the biggest fan of the government most of the time, but I also trust it to a certain degree. My issue stems from her vague accusation that she and the other lady were not protected. The government can only do so much. If you are not careful in your own conduct, they'll find a way to put you out. I'm guessing they came off as somewhat hostile to the company and were let go.There's another comment that bothers me in the video:"The aircraft should have absorbed that stress, and the people that [sic] were slightly injured would't have been injured."Really? So how does the aircraft absorb stress and not transfer it to the passengers without something breaking or otherwise malforming.The 707 comparison is completely moot. Around that same time we had cars that had "stronger" frames/bodies, but they were less safe for precisely that reason. They didn't crumple or break apart to absorb the stress of impact, which therefore transferred the stress to the occupants. The test was to test a new fuel type that didn't mist and contribute to a fireball (as you can see, the endeavor failed). It had nothing to do with structural testing. If anything, the proof of structural strength would have been coincidental, but structural strength does not imply safety, as mentioned above.More later as I watch.

Kyle Rodgers

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Guest wims

Personally I dont know if the potentially flawed parts had any effect in where those planes broke up. The interesting part of that story was the subcontractor that hand made parts that were required to be machined according to the type rating for the NG. Thats a very serious allegation and if true would not only be a big no-no, it would also be highly illegal. These allegations should be investigated by an independant organisation, and if true the subcontractor should be held responsible for funding the reparation the planes that has flawed parts and should also not be allowed to build parts for the aero industry any longer

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There's another comment that bothers me in the video:"The aircraft should have absorbed that stress, and the people that [sic] were slightly injured would't have been injured."Really? So how does the aircraft absorb stress and not transfer it to the passengers without something breaking or otherwise malforming.
Second, as a physicist I question the basic premise that somehow it further endangers passengers. Actually if structure collapses it absorbs some additional impact energy. By the way Al Jazeera has zero credibility for me. I rather stick with specialized, technical aviation sources.
I don't agree with that, an airplane designed to break up to absorb impact energy would greatly endanger the passengers by exposing them to the outside where sharp heavy metal and violent forces are wrecking havoc. I think it would be safer to be thrown around inside the fuselage, than outside.

Emil Bjornholt - Norway - ENGM

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