August 12, 1985- Japan Airlines flight 123 left Tokyo, Japan at around 6:10 in the evening, fourteen minutes later at an altitude of twenty four thousand feet, and three hundred knots, an explosion, oscillations, and cabin decompressions was heard and captured on the plane’s on board recorder. The captain on duty was seated at the right side of the plane and his co-pilot, who was at that time training for promotion to be a captain, was sitting on the left seat. A few moments later, the captain signals an SOS on the transponder and suggests that the flight return to Tokyo.
The airplane went down to twenty two thousand feet and went on doing violent movements; the plane, for about two minutes was doing a Phugoid, or longitudinal motion and rolls. The captain and his co-pilot were helpless and had no means in controlling the airplane’s heading through the usual flight control inputs. Their only way of limited control is done through thrust differentials. The plane was able to maintain an altitude of twenty two thousand feet and two hundred and fifty knots for an approximate duration of twenty minutes.
At around 6:39 in the evening, the main landing gear was deployed which caused the erratic movements of the plane to intensify. The plane then did a controlled turn to the left while descending to eight thousand feet. Erratic movement of the plane meanwhile, continue. At 6:47 PM, the plane was in a mountainous area, the plane increased power, and they were at five thousand and three hundred feet. The flaps of the plane were extended at 6:51 PM that caused the roll angle of the plane to be sixty degrees, the crew starts to move the flaps and increase thrust.
The plane was at ten thousand feet when it began a nose dive at a very fast eighteen thousand feet per minute. The crew countered this by lifting the nose. 6:56 PM – the airplane crashed at the mountains on an altitude of five thousand feet and three hundred and forty knots. Roughly forty six minutes since take-off and thirty two minutes since the decompression. Boeing, as owners of the plane, are somehow responsible for the crash but definitely they are not the only ones to blame and do not deserve to be blamed in entirety.
Part of the responsibility lies with Japan Airlines who maintains the plane. In fairness to Boeing, they have provided specific repair instructions to the plane that was not followed by those who were responsible for the repairs. The plane had previously suffered damage to the bulkhead in 1978 but was not repaired properly. As stated in the report, “The initiation and propagation of the fatigue cracks are attributed to the improper repairs of the bulkhead, conducted in 1978, and since the fatigue cracks were not found in the later maintenance inspection, this contributed to the accident.
” (Aviation Safety Network, 2008). Boeing did its part by providing proper instructions but their failure to see to it that they were carried out properly contributed to the crash which makes them partly guilty of neglect. There was confusion on the rescue operation, A US owned helicopter was the first at the scene, about twenty minutes after impact. The US chopper in turn, informed Yokota Air Base and offered backup. But the US helicopter was ordered to return to base because Japanese forces were to handle the mission.
Poor visibility at the crash site prompted the Japanese team to report that there were no survivors and made it impossible to land. Thinking that there were no survivors the rest of the rescue team waited till the next morning to check out the site. But there were survivors, reports show that injuries on the bodies found imply that they survived the crash but were not given immediate medical attention which caused their deaths.
If the helicopter pilot hadn’t reported abruptly that there were no survivors, there could have been. References Aviation Safety Network. (2007). Applying Lessons learned from Accidents. from: http://aviation-safety. net/database/record. php? id=19850812-1 Air Disaster. com (n. d). Special Report: Japan Airlines 123. from: http://www. airdisaster. com/special/special-jal123. shtml Jackson, H. (1985). 524 Killed in worst single air disaster. from: http://www. guardian. co. uk/fromthearchive/story/0,,1017027,00. html
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