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Accident Problem Set


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Identify the factors given in the report as the cause(s) of the accident. (Please note that the format lists the date followed by the month and then the year.)

 Date: 13/01/82 in Washington, D.C.

Factors: Failure to use engine anti-ice during ground operation and takeoff; decision to take off with snow/ice on airfoils; captain's failure to reject takeoff when instruments gave warning.


Date: 23/01/82 in Boston, Massachusetts

Factors: Pilot landed airplane without sufficient information on runway conditions; slippery, ice-covered runway exceeded the airplane's stopping capability.


Date: 17/02/91 in Cleveland, Ohio

Factors: Failure of flight crew to detect and remove ice on airplane's wings.


Date: 22/03/92 in Flushing, New York

Factors: Departure delay after de-icing (35 minutes) without checking to see that the wings were still free of ice.


Date: 11/05/96 in Miami, Florida

Factors: Fire erupted in forward cargo compartment; oxygen generators classified as "HAZMAT" were found in cargo compartment.


Date: 17/07/96 in New York City, New York

Factors: Explosion; no reports of problems by crew.


  1. What measures would you suggest to prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future? Answers will vary. Might discuss better information system, checking for ice on wings as a mandatory procedure, more safety inspections, etc.


  2. Create a chart showing the total number of fatalities for each of the following decades: 1920's,1930's, 1940's, 1950's, 1960's, 1970's, 1980's, 1990's.
    Total Number of Fatalities
  3. Next plot a graph of the total number of fatalities in each of the decades.


  4. What trends do you observe from your graph? Answers will vary. Possible responses could be: an increase in fatalities with a peak in the 1970's and a slight decrease in the 80's and 90's; few fatalities in the decades of the 1920's through the 1950's in comparison to the decades after the 50's.


  5. What do you think are the reasons for the trends? Answers will vary. Possible explanations might include an increase in air travel after the 1950's; the decrease in accidents after the 70's could be the result of increased safety and regulations.


  6. Provide a brief summary of NASA's aviation safety program. Answers given below in 7-10.


  7. Integrated Intelligent Flight Deck Summary:

    The overarching goal of IIFDT is to advance knowledge by producing tools, methods, principles, procedures, guidelines, and technologies, for revolutionary flight deck systems that enable transformations toward safer operations. Inter-disciplinary research pursues a greater understanding of behavioral relationships and context dependencies among and within flight deck system elements. The research process systematically explores methods for identifying requirements by exposing them and then testing the validity of both the methods and the requirements themselves (i.e. are suggested functions or capabilities really required?)


  8. Integrated Vehicle Health Management Summary:

    The goal of this project is to develop tools and techniques to detect, diagnose, predict, and solve aircraft safety problems as they happen in flight.


  9. Integrated Resillient Aircraft Control Summary:

    This program seeks to develop procedures and techniques to insure stability, maneuverability and safe landing in the presence of adverse conditions.

  10. Aircraft Aging and Durability Summary:

    The goal of this program is to develop technology to detect damage or degradation of materials caused by aging, to predict the life and strength of materials subjected to long term thermal and mechanical loads, and to contain or manage the damage associated with aging aircraft.


  11. Evaluate the measures that NASA and the FAA are attempting to implement to improve aviation safety. Answers will vary. Students should note the breadth of the areas of concern and that technology is a key factor in improving overall safety.

Related Pages:
History and Mission Index
Aerodynamics Index
Propulsion Index


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Editor: Tom Benson
NASA Official: Tom Benson
Last Updated: Thu, Jun 12 04:48:25 PM EDT 2014

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