Aloha Flight 243
In the Aloha incident, Aloha Airlines flight 243 took off on a regularly scheduled flight departing Hilo and arriving in Honolulu airport. Aloha flight 243 was a Boeing 737 that had suffered from metal fatigue and flown well over the intended takeoff-landing hours. (Stoller, 2001) Flight 243 experienced an explosive decompression and structure failure at flight level 240. An 18 ft. long section of ceiling area of the fuselage from the forward passenger cabin had separated from the flight deck door to the front of the wing. The opening extended from the left side of the cabin floor level to the right side window level. A flight attendant who was standing in the aisle was ejected out of the aircraft. No passengers were killed and flight 243 made a successful emergency landing in Kahului, Hawaii. The metal fatigues on an older aircraft lead to regulatory changes. The airplane was determined damaged beyond repair.
Thursday, April 28, 1988 at (Airsafe, 2008) 0510 Captain Robert Schornstheimer completed pre departure duties in dispatch. The captain then proceeded to the airplane. At 0500 the copilot checked in to Aloha Airlines Operations facility. Filled out operation’s paperwork and completed a preflight inspection. The maintenance log was signed and with no discrepancies. The copilot then prepared flight deck for portion of preflight. In predawn darkness, the exterior visual inspection had also found nothing unusual. At 1100 a copilot change was scheduled. Flight crew visual exterior inspections between flights were not required by FAA. (Hawaii, 1997) Aloha flight 243 was an inter-island flight. The previous crew flew three round trip flights starting from Honolulu to Hilo, Maui and Kaual. All six flights reported uneventful. All airplane systems performed normal.
Onboard the Boeing 737-297 were two pilots, three flight attendants, one FAA traffic controller (in flight deck observer seat), and 89 passengers. The flight had taken place in visual meteorological conditions with no advisories for significant meteorological information (SIGMET), or airman’s meteorological information (AIRMET). At 1325, flight 243 took off. The copilot, in control of the aircraft, reported no unusual occurrence during the take off. When the airplane leveled out at 24,000 feet the copilot’s head was jerked backward and both pilots heard a “clap” or “whooshing” sound along with wind noises behind them. The captain took over the controls and reported the airplane attitude as rolling slightly left and right with loose controls. Both pilots donned their oxygen masks because of decompression. The passenger oxygen mask switch was actuated as the plane began emergency decent. A rate of descent of 4,100 feet per minute was observed by the copilot at that time. The CVR microphones in the pilots’ oxygen masks recorded statements made by captain, copilot, flight observer, and Maui tower. Communication with Maui tower was garbled. At 1348, Maui tower was able to receive reception, loud and clear, as soon as the plane reached the south-south east side of Makena and descended out of 13,000 feet. Written in The Black Box the following conversation has been documented according to (MacPherson, 157) “COPILOT: Center, Aloha Two forty-three. We’re going down…Request lower [altitude]. Center, Aloha Two forty-three. Center, Aloha Two forty-three. Maui Approach, Aloha Two forty-three. Maui Tower, Aloha Two forty-three. Maui Tower, Aloha Two forty-three. We’re inbound for a landing. Maui Tower, Aloha Two forty-three. MAUI TOWER: [Flight] callin’ Tower, say again. COPILOT: Maui Tower, Aloha Two forty-three, we’re inbound for landing. We’re just, ah, west of Makena…just to the east of Makena, descending out of thirteen [13,000 feet], and we have rapid depr- We are unpressurized. Declaring an emergency…” The pilots had no communication with the flight attendants and informed tower of...
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