[FoRK] [Travelmania] AA CCTV service in the '70s?
Thu Sep 22 15:07:24 PDT 2005
Yes, yes, we've already heard more than enough about the recursive-
postmodern-irony of passengers watching themselves on the JetBlue
flight. I want to know about this cryptic reference in the AP wire
> In the late 1970s, American Airlines advertised the fact that
> passengers could watch their takeoffs and landings on closed-
> circuit television, a benefit that may have backfired. No one knows
> what passengers aboard Flight 191 saw on May 25, 1979, when an
> engine fell off moments before the plane crashed at Chicago O'Hare
> Airport, killing 273 people.
Anyone got a lead on identifying what this system was, or was it just
luck that the aviation writer on this piece has a loooong memory? I
enclose one link to AirDisasters, but that also seems like
speculation as to what the passengers might have seen...
> In the cockpit and cabin, the takeoff roll seemed totally normal.
> The view from the cockpit was even being broadcast on the
> airliner's closed circuit television system for the passengers'
> enjoyment. But six thousand feet into the takeoff roll, air traffic
> controllers in O'Hare's control tower saw small parts of the
> aircraft's no.1 engine pylon fall away, and as the aircraft started
> its rotation, the entire number one engine separated from the wing.
> Behaving exactly as it was designed to, the severed engine flew up
> and over the left wing, falling to the runway below. Unfortunately,
> in the process, it ripped out all of the hydraulic lines to the
> leading edge slats.
JetBlue Passengers Watched Ordeal on TVs
On-Board TVs Let JetBlue Passengers Watch Disturbing News About
By TIM MOLLOY
The Associated Press
Sep. 22, 2005 - Letting customers watch TV at their seats has been a
JetBlue calling card since the airline took flight in 1999.
But the frill made for a bizarre experience as passengers aboard an
airliner with a crippled nose wheel watched news reports about their
own flight even as they prepared for an emergency landing.
Some of those aboard Flight 292, which landed safely Wednesday at Los
Angeles International Airport, said later that they appreciated
seeing news reports on what was happening. Others were horrified.
"It was absolutely terrifying, actually. Seeing the events broadcast
made it completely surreal and detached me from the event," said
Zachary Mastoon, a musician heading home on the Burbank-to-New York
flight. "It became this television show I was inextricably linked to.
It was no longer my situation, it was broadcast for everyone to see.
It only exacerbated the situation and my fear."
Mastoon said the JetBlue employees kept passengers informed but that
he heard worst-case scenarios from TV news reports. Realizing the
risks, he started taking swigs from another passenger's vodka tonic.
"They were telling us there could be a crash landing, the landing
gear could be torn off, and that there could be a fire. The gravity
of the situation was much worse than any of us assumed," Mastoon said.
Some passengers, though, said they appreciated knowing as much as
possible about their situation.
"I think on balance people were not upset," said Howard Averill,
chief financial officer for NBC-Universal Television, who was
traveling to a meeting in New York.
Even so, he said, some passengers would pull off their headphones
after disturbing bits of news "with just that look of, I think I've
Another television executive on board, New York-based Todd Schwartz,
said the captain and the crew were straightforward in explaining the
situation to passengers, but TV offered more facts.
"You need to have the captain focusing on the task at hand and not
just informing us," he said.
He said the TVs were turned off five or 10 minutes before the
landing, which was fine with him because passengers needed to pay
attention to crew instructions. He said passengers couldn't watch,
anyway, because they were supposed to keep their heads down during
The airline said Thursday it had no plans to get rid of in-flight
television during emergencies.
"It's far more valuable to customers who choose to watch, and
customers who choose not to watch can turn their unit off," company
spokeswoman Jenny Dervin said.
JetBlue, which provides 36 channels, is joined by Delta's Song and
Frontier airlines in offering in-flight TV.
Airlines meticulously avoid in-flight movies about air disasters and
edit out scenes that could panic travelers. A scene in the 1988 film
"Rain Man" for example, in which Dustin Hoffman's character lists a
series of air disasters, was cut by every airline except Qantas whose
safety record got a thumbs-up in the film.
But by trying to offer its customers more viewing choices, airlines
also provide a connection with news reports on the ground, even
potentially unsettling ones.
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, JetBlue passengers flying into New
York watched reports of planes crashing into the World Trade Center
then looked out their windows to see it burning.
In the late 1970s, American Airlines advertised the fact that
passengers could watch their takeoffs and landings on closed-circuit
television, a benefit that may have backfired. No one knows what
passengers aboard Flight 191 saw on May 25, 1979, when an engine fell
off moments before the plane crashed at Chicago O'Hare Airport,
killing 273 people.
On Thursday, meanwhile, a JetBlue airliner departing from Tampa,
Fla., landed safely at John F. Kennedy International Airport after
its pilot reported a problem with the wing flaps as the plane
prepared to descend, company officials said. No injuries were
reported. It was unclear if the flaps actually were locked or if it
was a false alarm.
Special Report: American Airlines Flight 191
By: Chris Kilroy
An amateur photographer shot this photo of American 191's final
seconds, as the aircraft rolled past a 90? bank angle. Hydraulic
fluid and jet fuel can be seen leaking from the no.1 engine pylon.
May 25, 1979 remains the darkest day in American aviation. On that
Friday before the Memorial Day Weekend, 270 passengers and crew
aboard American Airlines Flight 191 lost their lives when their
airplane literally fell out of the sky. To this day, the accident is
the most deadly commercial airline crash in United States history.
Here is the story of what happened on that blusterry Spring day in 1979.
In command of flight 191 was Capt. Walter Lux, a 22,000 hour pilot
who had flown the DC-10 nearly since its introduction eight years
earlier. Assisting him on the flight deck were First Officer James
Dillard and Flight Engineer Alfred Udovich, who had 25,000 flying
hours between them. At 2:50 pm, N110AA was cleared to taxi to runway
32R at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, and at 3:02 pm the
flight was cleared for takeoff. The wind was Northeast at 22 knots.
In the cockpit and cabin, the takeoff roll seemed totally normal. The
view from the cockpit was even being broadcast on the airliner's
closed circuit television system for the passengers' enjoyment. But
six thousand feet into the takeoff roll, air traffic controllers in
O'Hare's control tower saw small parts of the aircraft's no.1 engine
pylon fall away, and as the aircraft started its rotation, the entire
number one engine separated from the wing.
Behaving exactly as it was designed to, the severed engine flew up
and over the left wing, falling to the runway below. Unfortunately,
in the process, it ripped out all of the hydraulic lines to the
leading edge slats. As a result, pressure slowly started to leak out
and the leading edge slats slowly started to retract. The plane
continued to climb normally, however.
The tower controller called "American 191 heavy, you wanna come back
and to what runway?" There was no response... the crew was too
concerned with keeping their wounded beast flying. The Captain,
following American's engine-out procedures to the nth degree, pitched
the nose up and slowed the aircraft down to V2+6, or 159 knots.
Decelerating through 165 knots, something odd began to happen.
The Captain was putting in full right rudder and aileron, yet the
aircraft was still rolling left. At an altitude of 400 feet and with
an airspeed of 155 knots, the airplane rolled past wings vertical and
fell to earth with a bank of 112? and a nose down attitude of 21?.
The accident investigation revealed that, when the engine separated,
it disabled the Captain's control panel, which contained both of the
slat disagreement systems. The severed hydraulic lines allowed the
slats on the left wing to gradually retract, and the stall speed on
the left wing rose considerably. When the aircraft slowed through 164
knots, the left wing aerodynamically stalled because of its clean
configuration, while the right wing continued to produce lift with
its slats still in takeoff position. With one wing stalling and one
wing producing full lift, the airplane eventually rolled past a 90?
bank, and fell to the ground. The crash killed two people on the
ground when it hit a field directly adjacent to a trailer park. All
270 passengers and crew aboard were also fatally injured.
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