15 August 2008

Scary Stuff

You may recall a month or so ago, there was what was described as a minor incident, when Obama's campaign plane made an unscheduled landing in St Louis, for what was described as a minor incident: the aft inflatable emergency exit slide deployed in the tail cone. This was described as not an emergency and not an incident affecting the safety of the flight.

Funny story; not so much:

[The pilot] no longer had full control of the plane's up and down movements, [and] told an FAA air traffic controller "at this time we would like to declare an emergency and also have CFR [crash equipment] standing by. ... Be advised we have Senator Obama on board the aircraft."
Now this was an MD-81, essentially the same plane as Alaska Air Flight 261, which also had pitch control issues and wound up plunging into the Pacific Ocean. Although in that case the loss of control was due to a different cause, a broken jackscrew, the symptom experienced in the air was the same. With that history in mind, how much must those pilots have been crapping in their pants? Still, the problem was resolved and they did land safely, and Obama's new ride is a more modern and safer 757, so all is well.

Except that my next flight to Chicago is scheduled to be on the same type of plane. I hate the MD-80's and 90's. They're small and cramped and loud, old, dingy and, it would appear, unsafe. I can't wait till the major carriers retire them all.


  1. I would point out that we'd all be living in caves and hunting with sticks if you applied this logic to everything.

    THe DC-9/MD-80 series have been around since the early 60's at minimum, have amassed zillions of air miles, and have occasional accidents like every other jet.

    The Air Alaska crash was a combination of bad maintenance and aircrew mistakes (they kept trying to move the stabilator when it jammed, and it finally failed catastrophically).

    Don't consign an entire aircraft to the 'dangerous' category based on this.

    an 8 letter captcha? why?

  2. Be advised we have Senator Obama on board the aircraft.

    I guess when it's just people like me on board and they're about to crash, they don't have to take as much evasive/corrective/rescue action. Is that what I should conclude from such a statement? I can't imagine why the pilot/whoever thought that was relevant to an emergency situation.

    Ditto if the statement had been "Be advised we have Senator McCain on board the aircraft."

  3. Allen,
    Yeah, you're right. I just hate the MD-80/90 so damn much that I got carried away.

    I think the pilot was just being polite. ATC's handling of the emergency would of course be the same regardless, but if things went poorly on the landing, I suspect law enforcement and the NTSB would need to have extra resources for such a high profile incident. A lot of politicians have died in campaign plane crashes.

  4. unfortunately it has been proven that you were correct

  5. If I recall properly there was an AD for the jackscrews shortly after that incident. So, one less thing, right?


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.