The Curse of the DC-10

At the very end of the 60′s, the entry of the Jumbo Jet, the Boeing 747, into the airliner world, heralded a new age of aircraft development, the wide-body airliner, and following the success of this behemoth of the skies, the world-renowned american company Douglas Commercial, legendary for planes such as the DC-3, DC-4 and DC-8, quickly entered in this new market with a brand-new aircraft of their own, the DC-10

Little would they, and really, anyone else know, that this plane seemed to be hopelessly cursed in her early years:

November 3, 1973, National Airlines Flight 27: An uncontained engine failure in the N°3 engine due to vibrations of unknown origin, launched debris at the fuselage of the plane, penetrating it and causing rapid decompression of the cabin area, alongside damage to electrical and hydraulic systems. A passenger was ejected from the hole in the fuselage, and the rest survived as the pilots managed to safely land the plane.

March 3, 1974, Turkish Airliners flight 981: A design flaw in the cargo door resulted in a catastrophic in-flight failure that lead to an explosive decompression of the fuselage, critically damaging the control surfaces and leading to a crash that killed all 346 on board. 

May 25, 1979,  American Airlines Flight 191: Improper maintenance led to the loss of the N°1 engine during take-off, which took with it most of the left wing’s leading edge, effectively destroying its lift ability, which led to a stall and subsequent crash that killed all 271 on board plus 2 on the ground.

October 31, 1979, Western Airlines Flight 2605: Pilot error led to the collision with construction equipment after landing on a closed runway at Mexico City International Airport, killing 72 of the 88 people on board and one person on the ground.

November 28, 1979, Air New Zealand Flight 901: During a sightseeing flight into the Antarctic, lack of visibility and a dire navigational error by Air New Zealand’s management let the aircraft to fly into Mount Erebus on Ross Island, killing all 237 passengers and 20 crew on board.

1979 would be the worst year of the model, and while safety improved and therefore, crashes heavily diminished after that fateful year, the ugly head of this curse would still show up in the form of two of aviation’s most bizarre accidents:

July 19, 1989, United Airlines Flight 232: Uncontained engine failure on the N°2 (tail) engine due to a manufacturing defect of the titanium used in the engine’s fan assembly, lead to the destruction of the hydraulic systems, rendering the aircraft almost uncontrollable, where the excellent crew on board managed to control her enough with the remaining wing engines via the throttles, leading to a failed landing attempt that nonetheless managed to save 185 of the 296 people on board.

July 25, 2000, Air France Flight 4590: Curiously, the last fatalities brought by a DC-10 wouldn’t happen in the plane itself, but rather, in Concorde’s only crash, as the aircraft was lost after striking an engine thrust reverser fragment that fell from a DC-10 that belonged to Continental Airlines.
Grey's Anatomy Mystery Solved: Meredith and Nathan Board Airplane Crisis Episode — First Photo | TVLine
By Michael Ausiello

It might be time for Meredith to consider traveling by train.
TVLine has exclusively obtained the flight manifest for Grey’s Anatomy‘s latest airplane emergency-themed episode and Meredith Grey — whose history with air travel is, at best, turbulent — is among the passengers. And she’s not traveling alone. According to the airline’s records — not to mention the exclusive image above — her crush interest Nathan Riggs is on board as well.

As we previously reported, the Chandra Wilson-helmed installment — titled “In the Air Tonight” and slated to air on April 13 — takes place almost entirely on a commercial airliner as a crisis unfolds mid-flight.

As you know, Meredith was involved in an airline disaster at the end of Grey’s Anatomy‘s eighth season. The crash claimed the life of her sister Lexie (Chyler Leigh).

Further details about “In the Air Tonight” — including the nature of the crisis (perhaps it’s a passenger and not the aircraft that’s ailing?) — are being kept under wraps. Other big questions: Why are Meredith and Nathan traveling together? Where exactly are they going? Is there first date taking place on a beach in Mexico?!

29 April 2013 National Airlines Flight 102 crash.

A Boeing 747-400 headed from Bagram Airfield, Parwan, Afghanistan, to Al Maktoum Airport, Dubai, which stalled shortly after takeoff because a military vehicle it was carrying got loose due to improper cargo handling, shifting the load of the aircraft and hitting the rear bulkhead of the fuselage, damaging key control component that left the aircraft completely uncontrollable, with the abnormal pitch-up rotation, stall and crash to the ground ensuing.

All 7 crew member were lost.


Japan Airlines Flight 123 cockpit voice recording, the aircraft crashed due to in-flight structural failure due to maintenance errors, which caused loss of flight controls after the rear bulkhead exploded, taking with it all hydraulic lines and the vertical stabilizer, leaving the aircraft almost completely uncontrollable.

It’s notable the labor of the pilots, which managed to keep the plane airborne for more than 30 minutes, an amazing feat given the damage, but sadly ultimately futile.

Out of the 524 passenger and crew, only 4 survived.

The transcript of the recording:

CA = Captain
FO = First officer
URV = Unreadable voices
GPWS = Ground Proximity Warning System

CA: Raise nose.
FO: Yes, roger, sir.
CA: Raise nose.
CA: Raise nose.
CA: Raise nose.
CA: Since long before.
CA: Stop flap.
?: Stop it.
CA: Do not extend flap so deeply.
?: Flap up, flap up, flap up, flap up…
?: Flap up.
?: Yes, sir.
CA: Power, power.
?: URV
CA: Flap.
FO: I am retracting it.
CA: Raise nose.
CA: Raise nose.
CA: Power.
GPWS: Sink rate, pull up, pull up, pull up, pull up
GPWS: Pull up pull up
(sound of collision with first peak)
GPWS: Pullup,pullup
(sound of impact on the second peak)
(tape ends).
BREAKING: Here Are The Chilling Details Of How The Germanwings Co-Pilot Intentionally Crashed The Plane

Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin explained the actions Andreas Lubitz took to deliberately “destroy” an Airbus carrying 150 people.

A French prosecutor on Thursday laid out the chilling details, based on a transcript of the final 30 minutes of a cockpit voice recorder, of how Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz intentionally flew an Airbus carrying 150 people into the Alps.

Brice Robin said at a news conference that for the first 20 minutes, the captain of the plane and Lubitz spoke in a cordial, normal fashion with each other and there was nothing unusual about the conversation.

After a flight attendant prepared for the flight’s arrival in Düsseldorf, the pilot asked Lubitz to take control. There was a sound of a chair being pushed back and a door being closed, which indicated that the captain had left the cockpit to presumably use the restroom.

“At this point the co-pilot is the only one in the cockpit,” Robin said. “So it’s while he’s alone that he has somehow manipulated the buttons on the flight monitoring system to accelerate the plane’s descent. I repeat, he was alone at the helm of this plane.”

Robin reiterated that the action of starting the aircraft’s descent at that particular altitude could only be done deliberately and that it was not automatic.

The captain was then heard calling Lubitz to regain access into the cockpit using the internal communication system.

“We hear several cries of the pilot asking to access the cockpit,” Robin said. “Through the intercom system, he identifies himself, but there is no answer; he knocks on the door, but receives no response from the co-pilot.”

There were sounds of “normal breathing” from inside the cockpit up until the final point of impact, which indicated that Lubitz was alive. Air traffic controllers from a control tower in Marseille began asking for a distress signal, but when there was no response it meant that the flight became a priority compared to every other flight at that point, Robin said.

Alarm systems were triggered, indicating the proximity of the ground to everyone on board. Violent blows to break down the cockpit door were also heard, presumably by the captain trying to get back into the cockpit. But the door was reinforced, according to international security norms to protect against terrorist acts, Robin said.

The sound of the plane’s first impact was heard, which meant it could have glanced or hit something before the final impact. No distress calls or mayday signals were made by the co-pilot despite several calls from the control tower.

“The most likely interpretation in our view is that the co-pilot, through deliberate abstention, refused to open the cockpit door to the chief pilot and used the button which controls loss of altitude,” said Robin.

In the last eight minutes the aircraft went from 10,000 to 12,000 meters to virtually 2,000 meters. The mountain it hit was between 1,500 and 2,500 meters.

“He used this button to lose altitude for reasons that are totally unknown to us at the moment,” said Robin, adding that his actions could be analyzed as “a deliberate attempt to destroy the aircraft.”

Robin said the passengers became aware of what was going on only at the last moment because the aircraft was very large and the passengers were not near the cockpit.

“We hear screams only in the very last moments before the impact. The screams are in the last instance,” he said.

“Death was instantaneous,” Robin said, because the aircraft was going 700 kilometers an hour before hitting the mountain.

Source: Tasneem Nashrulla for Buzzfeed News


Western Airlines Flight 2605 CVR tape.

The plane, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10, crashed on October 31, 1979 in Mexico City’s airport after erroneously landing on the wrong, under-repair runway due to heavy fog and pilot confusion, which caused the plane to strike a parked truck, lose control, and eventually crash into a hangar, killing 73 out of 77 passengers and crew, and one person on the ground.