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Honolulu 1989.


Modern airliners are considered the most serious and reliable vehicles for transporting people. But sometimes known defects deferred maintenance can lead to disaster, which could have been avoided.


            Honolulu Airport. 24 February 1989 of the year. The case of a known defect in the design of airliners was ignored for several years until the tragedy on board occurred Being 747 airline "United Airlines"Flying from Honolulu to Auckland (New Zealand). During the preparation for the flight 811 no one on board did not know about the serious malfunctions in the aircraft. The crew made every precaution and checked baggage for suspicious parcels. Just a few months ago a bomb exploded in a passenger plane in the sky over Scotland. It can be said that the crew was extremely cautious.


            Flight 811 was overloaded. On board was 337 passengers. The luggage compartment was filled to capacity... The fuel tanks are full. The plane took to the skies at about two in the morning, making a regular eight-hour flight. The aircraft was flown by the highly qualified captain David Krunin. He had only two months left before retirement. The co-pilot and first officer was Al Slator.


Captain: At that time I worked in the "United Airlines" nearly 35 years. swoop 30000 hours as a pilot and as a passenger. I knew Al Sleytora already 20 years. A second officer Mark Thomassen then I flew for the first time. But I knew him before. The crew we had worked.


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            The pilots were going to fly at an altitude of 10000 meters above the Pacific Ocean, in order to avoid turbulence due to bad weather.


Captain: We have noticed that the south straight ahead in 500 kilometers away storm broke. This phenomenon is quite unusual for this time of day. So I gave the order to fasten your seat belts.


            The order of Captain Krunin to fasten his seat belts later saved the lives of many passengers. The plane gained altitude. Flight attendants were preparing to deliver drinks and dinner, because the flight to New Zealand is quite long. They flew several hundred kilometers from Honolulu, and climbed 7000 meters. At such a height, the difference in air pressure on board and overboard is huge. Suddenly the passengers sat next to the cargo door We heard a strange sound.


Passenger: We suddenly heard some grinding. Then a thud. And in the next split second I began hell.


            The cargo compartment door flew out, taking with it a large part of the outer skin of the fuselage.. The air on board is under high pressure, issued a blast.


Captain: I immediately thought of the tragedy in Lockerbie. I thought that a bomb exploded on board.


            The plane was shaking. All that was not fastened, tied or removed away flew out. The noise was monstrous. Tightness of the aircraft was broken. Due to the lack of oxygen on board at the height of 7000 meters, passengers and the crew on board began to choke. In this case, it was necessary to wear an oxygen mask, but all the masks carried away by the wind.


Passenger: All that was in front of us disappeared. We were just a few centimeters away from the gaping hole. The right side of the plane seemed to drift. It was also a hole under his feet. It seemed there was no hope.


            The crew of the 811 board contacted the dispatcher and informed them that they were going for an emergency landing. The plane was rapidly losing altitude. Its right side was broken, the right wing and engines were broken. However, the problems on board just started.


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            Two minutes after decompression, as a result of the explosion, the plane quickly descended to a height of 4500 meters. It was a safe height, and everyone on board could breathe normally. The real problem remained the destroyed engine, which was closest to the site of the explosion. The pilots made it off, after which the vibration stopped.


            One stewardess badly wounded by a metal fragment. Helping her, the other stewardess understood the seriousness of their situation.


Waitress: I saw an incredible hole in the right side of the aircraft. Just empty space. Propane and passenger seats. I realized that we had lost some of the passengers.


            As a result, decompression disappeared 5 rows of seats. 9 passengers killed. The pilots turned the plane back to Honolulu, but the city was about 130 km. Problems continue to worsen. The fourth engine is too damaged debris, and it worked intermittently.


Captain: It is very difficult to conduct aircraft weighing more than 300 tonnes on two engines. Two engines are not able to keep the aircraft in the air. The fall would be inevitable.


            To keep the plane and reach the airport, the pilots began to drain fuel from the main tanks. Also, they had no connection with the flight attendants. The flight engineer went from cabin to cabin to see what happened. He immediately saw a hole in the plane and turned white like a canvas. Also through the hole it was clear that the fourth engine was burning. The pilots followed the instructions and silenced him. They did not know whether they could reach the land and were preparing to land a plane in the water. The flight attendants began to prepare passengers for a forced landing.


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Steward: We walked through the cabin, handing out life jackets. And I always thought that all end well vryatli. After the plane landed on the water, just be smashed to pieces.


            After a while, the pilots saw the lights of the coast. The strip remained 33 km, and the height was only 1200 m. An alarm was announced at Honolulu airport. Rescue services were preparing for the crash of the overcrowded airliner. The pilots also prepared the plane for landing. They needed to slow down. However, during the explosion, the flaps were jammed, and they could not work completely. This meant only one thing - the plane was approaching too fast.


            A heavily damaged 811 flight, with a fuselage torn apart, losing altitude, flying only two engines, began its approach to the runway. Despite the fact that the pilots leaked fuel, the plane was still overloaded. Damaged flaps could not reduce the speed of the aircraft, so it was rapidly approaching the ground. The danger was also that the chassis could break. Fortunately, the chassis were not damaged and they came out successfully. Prilozhiv enormous efforts, the pilots successfully landed the plane.


Captain: I think it was the most successful landing in my life. We stopped within the runway. 10 opened all the doors, and the flight attendants began to withdraw passengers.


            Everyone was incredibly happy that they were able to deceive death itself. However, for the families of the nine dead passengers, the trials were just beginning. One of the dead was Lee Campbell - a young guy who flew home to his parents.


Father Lee: We got a call and was told that sorry. Our son is missing and must be presumed dead. It was a terrible day.


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            Lee's body was not found. Nevertheless, his parents went to Honolulu to look at the damaged aircraft. Campbell's desire to find out the cause of the death of his son put them face to face with terrifying details. It became clear that Lee’s body would never be found, and the parents ’desire to find out the cause of the accident was getting stronger.


Father Lee: Our son was killed, however, we could not leave it at that. We had to find those responsible for his death.


            Campbells decided to conduct its own investigation. It lasted about two years. Through 2 months after the accident on board the flight 811 National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSB) held a preliminary hearing. Campbell attended the hearing and realized that NTSB is still many months will make its report. Therefore, they decided to take matters into their own hands. After the hearing, they took all the documents from the meeting, the Chairman of the table. Even those who have not been taken.


Mother Lee: We just realized that we were in a very serious documents. The contents of these papers are not disclosed publicly. We could immediately start an investigation.


            Unpublished documents were a list of defects in the cargo door, as well as other deficiencies in the design of the aircraft. The cargo compartment doors opened outward, not inward. It was insecure. However, the company Boeing felt that this design is quite reliable.


            Soon the Campbells got to the bottom of the truth. It was all about blocking mechanism. The cargo door on board the Boeing 747 closed as follows. Electric motors closed-shaped locks "C" on a metal pin located on the door frame. Then, outer handle resulted in the movement of the levers in the form of the Latin letter «L», who blocked the castle. But 1975 year in blocking mechanism having trouble. Boeing engineers concluded that the aluminum alloy locks are not too strong. They raised the aluminum content of the alloy to make them stronger, but better for it was no more. Many airlines and does not have to change the locks on the more durable. The fragility of aluminum increased the risk of spontaneous opening of the loading door. 20 years 747 the Boeing planes flew with such malfunctions on board.


            Following this discovery, the Campbells redoubled their efforts to uncover the whole truth about the incident. To do this, they went to the United States. They learned that such cases had already happened. For example, in 1987 a Boeing 747, which took off from Heathrow Airport, depressurized at an altitude of 6000 meters. The pilots had to return to the airport. There, the cargo door interlocking locks were found to be bent or broken. Fortunately, then there were no casualties. Boeing did not admit its guilt, but blamed the ground crew for everything, which, according to them, incorrectly serviced the plane.


            Having investigated the Campbell problem, we found that All this was in the main switch lock «S-2». He had to stop the voltage that was lowered when the outer door handle. However, even with a small short circuit in the wiring of the old aircraft, the door would open spontaneously. In turn, the blocking locks can not hold a massive cargo door. Campbell believed that the culprit was the structure of the castle «S-2» on Boeing aircraft.


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            A year after the accident, the NTSB unveiled its version of the incident. The Campbells were in for a serious shock.


Father Lee: I was shocked. In the report it was stated that a door tightly closed. And not a word about the structural defects of the aircraft.


            The campbells were unhappy that the committee did not report negligence or electrical faults in the report. Once again taking up their investigation, they discovered a way to prevent an accident.


            In 1987, Boeing issued a directive, according to which it was necessary to replace aluminum locks with stronger ones - steel ones. Installing steel locks is a cheap and simple process. But it was never launched. Price modification was a penny - 2000 dollars per plane. However, the process itself would take about 10 hours. This was the whole hitch. Stop work on aircraft 10 hours worth millions of dollars. The company continues to risk the lives of people by releasing defective aircraft in the sky.


            Thanks to the Camble’s efforts, the investigators revised their findings and agreed with their version. All airlines were required to immediately eliminate the defect in their Boeing 747. The tragedy of the 811 board has become a vivid illustration of the fact that in this world financial gain is often placed above the price of human life. 

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