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American Airlines jet lands safely after cabin walls split apart

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When I saw this I just knew it was one of the MD80's at play here.  Having this happen on a 757 is surprising.

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When I saw this I just knew it was one of the MD80's at play here. Having this happen on a 757 is surprising.

Not necessarily surprising. The MD 80 series was produced between 1980 and 1999, the 757 between 1983 and 2004. Which is to say that if you were to pick any given 757 and MD80 at random, there is probably just as much chance the the 757 would be older than the Maddog, with more hours and cycles on the airframe, than the other way around.

 

In any case, this was not a structural failure of the airframe itself, but a failure of the non-structural plastic/composite interior wall of the cabin caused by a ruptured air duct. I'm not saying it was "no big deal" - especially if the duct was carrying 450C engine bleed air - but it was not a case of metal fatigue in the actual airframe structure. More like having a water pipe rupture in your house and blow out a piece of the interior drywall.

 

I saw a similar duct rupture occur under the aft cabin floor of an almost-new Gulfstream G-550 with less than 200 total hours on the airframe.

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There is no reason for hot bleed air to be ducted through that area that I can think of. If it was straight bleed air, those plastic walls would be melted and afire. Ducts for the conditioned air run along the cabin walls and rupture all the time. Although I haven't seen them blow out the interior panels before. The packs on the 757 must be a bit stronger than the ones I'm used to.

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Just want to note that the reported passenger claim that the aircraft continued on for 45 minutes before the pilots turned around is not possible, as the total flight time was 1 hour and 6 minutes.  Scary though!

 

http://flightaware.com/live/flight/AAL2293/history/20141013/1835Z/KSFO/KSFO

 

The flight began turning back @ 31 minutes into the flight:

http://flightaware.com/live/flight/AAL2293/history/20141013/1835Z/KSFO/KSFO/tracklog

 

Mike

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