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Another Plane Down in New York 1113

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the breaking-news-mode dept.
Another plane has crashed, this time in Queens. You can read a blurb at Yahoo. CNN.com isn't responding for me. LaGuardia, Newark and JFK are closed now. Update: 11/12 14:54 GMT by T : New reports indicate that the plane was departing from JFK, not arriving. Also, CNN has confirmed that this was American Airlines flight 587, an Airbus A 300. Update: 11/12 14:57 GMT by T : Further information is that the plane was en route to the Dominican Republic, and that the disaster actually involves two crash sites, not just one -- an engine fell from the plane some distance from the fuselage.
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Another Plane Down in New York

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  • Re:unbelievable (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Empty_One (90408) <empty1&gmail,com> on Monday November 12, 2001 @10:49AM (#2553581)
    As bad as this sounds, I hope it's just that the plane and mechanical problems.
  • I can see the smoke (Score:4, Interesting)

    by richieb (3277) <richieb@gma i l . com> on Monday November 12, 2001 @10:49AM (#2553582) Homepage Journal
    I can see the smoke from our office window in downtown Manhattan. It seems that the plane went down in Far Rockway. This would make sense if the plane was on a landing approach, as the wind is out of the south east in NY this morning...

    ...richie

  • by Ranglefant (205474) on Monday November 12, 2001 @11:07AM (#2553771)
    Notice that this time the newssites was _very_ quick on going to a light version of their pages.

    They have obviously learned from prior experiences.

    Dow Jones however dropped 200 points faster than any newssite could update their pages. Consider the impact on US-airtraffic.
    Wonder how much time it will take until someone goes bankrupt and wether it will be a US or some other national agency that drops first.

    Rangle
  • by sales_worldwide (244279) on Monday November 12, 2001 @11:28AM (#2553957) Homepage
    Reuters have just reported that the FBI have arressted a mechanic who worked on the Airbus before takeoff.
  • better response time (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CRAssEsT (307789) <oralfetus@hotmail.com> on Monday November 12, 2001 @11:35AM (#2554022) Homepage
    i live in brooklyn, and i was glad to see that the sky was full of fighter jets with in 5 minutes rather then the hour+ on 9-11. i know in actuality it doesnt really help anything, but it makes the lot of us feel a little more secure, at least as secure as you can with 5000 lbs of bombs wizzing over head
  • by eclectric (528520) <bounce@junk.abels.us> on Monday November 12, 2001 @11:35AM (#2554030)
    This article does not seem to suggest *where* they got this FAA Information. Secondly, the FAA never makes the call this fast. The most they might say is "it appears to have been engine trouble" and that would be information they got from the pilots through tower contact. And, even if it *is* engine problems, it doesn't rule out sabatoge, or explosives.
  • by Erasmus Darwin (183180) on Monday November 12, 2001 @11:36AM (#2554034)
    "What happened to their extra capacity?"

    The sad thing is that it's probably not cost-effective. The only time I've seen this happen is when it's been news so big (WTC and this recent crash) that I've heard about it even though I'm at work. On average, it seems that news big enough to get transmitted through the school/office grapevine happens less frequently than yearly. It's things like:

    • The Challenger exploding
    • The OJ verdict (someone actually left the class I was in, found out the verdict, and wandered in whispering, "Not guilty"; even weirder is that it wasn't my class -- I was taking notes for fraternity brother that wanted to watch it on TV)
    • The WTC disaster

    I'm probably leaving some out, as my memory isn't the best, but these things are infrequent occurances. Unfortunately, news sites have to worry about doing what turns a profit. CNN is, at least, transferring servers over from less critical departments (such as Cartoon Network), but it's hard for them to justify having servers there that're idle 99+% of the time.

    It's a shame there's not a technology-based solution that automatically kicks in for obscenely popular sites. Some sort of popular site caching mechanism or a P2P system might do the trick (and provide a more legitimate use for P2P technologies). Such a system would also help out in non-emergency situations, such as when a given novelty site gets its 15 minutes of Internet fame.

  • Re:thats the thing.. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by cyclist1200 (513080) on Monday November 12, 2001 @11:41AM (#2554077) Homepage
    That's not necessarily wierd. People tend to think that if a two-engine plane loses one engine, it can just use the other to get to safety. One engine is a huge loss, especially on takeoff. The airplane won't be able to gain altitude (at least not quickly), and the plane will tend to veer in one direction. Depending on what point in the takeoff and climb-out the engine failed or fell off, the plane may have stalled (lost lift) and been too close to the ground to recover. NPR reported that this plane was in a 60 degree dive when it hit, so that is entirely possible.
  • Aerial Photo (Score:2, Interesting)

    by WebMasterJoe (253077) <{joe} {at} {joestoner.com}> on Monday November 12, 2001 @11:41AM (#2554078) Homepage Journal
    Here's an aerial photo of 122nd and Rockaway: click! [mapquest.com]. The intersection, I believe is just east of the large building.
  • Other Airbus crashes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by c0bw3b (530842) <cobweb@NOspam.xmitter.cc> on Monday November 12, 2001 @12:38PM (#2554134) Homepage
    Don't know if this will be useful to anyone, but there have been several other crashes involving this same plane. Here's [uni-bielefeld.de] a link to a report dealing with this. -cobweb
  • by loopkin (267769) on Monday November 12, 2001 @12:47PM (#2554156) Homepage
    actually, planes are designed to crash....

    this is the main difference between Boeing and Airbus as for the conception:
    On Boeing planes, the engine is kept very hard tightened to the wing, and is expected to behave as a "cushion" when the plane crashes
    On Airbus planes, the engine is expected to detach from the wing when the plane crashes, to avoid that the wing breaks and goes into fire.
    That said, you can guess that the link between wing and engine is checked very often and very carefully on every plane...

    Now we should wait for the explanation of what really happened, because for now, there is no satisfactory plain and certain explanation.
    Everything is possible, but we have to be sure (as for birds, engines are designed as well not to go into fire when a bird goes thru it.. now, for 3 or 4 birds at the same time, or a big bird, it's another story)
  • The Facts (Score:1, Interesting)

    by DigitalDaedalus (142) on Monday November 12, 2001 @12:48PM (#2554159)
    People are harping on not jumping to conclusions but let's look at the facts:
    There've been 12 Airbus crashes since 1988 (1 of those was during a engine failure simulation). None of them were landing or flying from the US (bbc article here [bbc.co.uk]).
    New York is obviously a major target for air terror. If you consider the probabilities, the most likely is an act of terror. Just my 2c.
  • an accident? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 12, 2001 @12:48PM (#2554160)
    i hope so, but..

    if an engine came off before the crash [which could be caused by or cause the explosion] that's damned unlikely. twa800 and that dc10 years ago are the only similar events i can think of right now.

    more likely that instead of trying the harder method of hijacking and aiming an airliner at a building, just explode one on takeoff from NY. the area and amount of gas involved will have the same effect post sept11: terror.

    i'm not fear mongering: the way to react to terrorism is to face it and remain calm.

    that's not easy. it's not meant to be easy. it's the only answer though.

    hard times. speak truth to power.
  • by iskander (9699) on Monday November 12, 2001 @12:56PM (#2554188)

    One Captain Marchessi was interviewed live over the telephone on Spain's national television, TVE. He said (and I am paraphrasing here) that Airbus planes are designed to survive the loss of an engine, and that pilots are trained for precisely such an eventuality; therefore, he believes, it is unlikely that the loss of thrust alone would have caused the plane to crash. (To his credit, he declined to speculate further despite pressure from the reporter.)

    Now, can somebody tell me whether the phrase "the loss of an engine" in this context could mean the physical loss of the engine? Or is it just an idiom meaning "the loss of an engine's thrust"? I mean -- are these planes really designed to account for the possible dettachment of an engine?

  • Possible cause (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cperciva (102828) on Monday November 12, 2001 @01:07PM (#2554255) Homepage
    Since the latest reports seem to suggest that there was a mid-air explosion before the plane came down, people might be interested in reading this notice from the FAA [faa.gov] requiring that modifications be performed on Airbus A300 series aircraft in order to eliminate a possible cause of fuel tank explosion. Judging by the dates on the notice -- effective September 10, modifications must be performed within 18 months -- I'd guess that many planes haven't been modified yet.
  • by Sloppy (14984) on Monday November 12, 2001 @01:12PM (#2554284) Homepage Journal

    I dunno about that... I don't live anywhere near NYC, and talking to real people (i.e. not listening to people on TV) I haven't heard of anyone actually being scared. If you look at the big picture, there really isn't much widescale "terror" to the terrorism; the country is just too big.

    Get away from the northeastern USA, and the only way the terrorism is really affecting most people's lives, is the reaction that it has provoked from the government. The actual plane crashes themselves are just Yet Another television thing.

    That must sound really weird or insensitive to New Yorkers, I guess. But it's true.

  • by Luminous (192747) on Monday November 12, 2001 @01:17PM (#2554314) Journal
    This is an incorrect use of Occam's Razor. Occam's Razor dictates that each event be looked at as if it were in a vacuum. The simplest explanation is the engine fell off causing the plane to crash.

    But as H.L. Mencken said, for every problem there is a solution that is both simple and wrong.

    Until further evidence, though, it is better to approach this as a 'normal' air disaster while posting a Lemur to watch for any other threats. This is what the government has done, New York has gone into emergency mode (good idea) but nationally we need to see that this is just like any other air disaster - saddening but not an attack.
  • by kaladorn (514293) on Monday November 12, 2001 @01:25PM (#2554371) Homepage Journal
    American Airlines - prior target.
    NYC - prior target.
    Outbound flight loaded with fuel presumably.


    I've heard their was a meeting of a bunch of arab leaders to discuss the fate of Afghanistan at the UN.

    I've also heard (CBC) that Rudy Giuliani (sp?) and Pres Perwez Musharef (sp?) were to tour Ground Zero more or less at the time of the accident.

    Also the district where things landed is a shopping district - another symbol of capitalism.

    And the eyewitnesses have reported seeing flames from the planes sides. I'm imagining a bomb or a bit of sabotage could easily have caused such an effect.

    According to an aviation expert from the USA, interviewed by CBC, the Airbus has a very good safety record and there haven't been (with US carrier's Airbuses anyway) any accidents of this nature.

    Now, this doesn't prove anything. In fact, it doesn't even produce a convincing allegation. But it is certainly an interesting combination of facts. If it is mechanical failure not caused by any hostile agency, then it is just an ugly coincidence and NYC is just having more than its fair share of horrendous luck.

    I'll be anxious to see how this all comes out in the wash.

    And I extend my sympathies to anyone affected directly by this tragedy. Regardless of how it came to be, it is quite horrific. :(

    Tomb
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 12, 2001 @02:03PM (#2554507)
    There has been a problem in the past with the engine mount of an A310

    A300-600 Aft Engine Mount Failure [italianfli...mittee.org]

    A300/A310 Aft mount structures are certified 'safe life'

    Other AIB aircraft are certified 'fail safe'.

    In summer 1997, a separation of an Aft Mount Left Hand Side link was discovered during aircraft overhaul on an early A310-200 (MSN370) operated by THY airlines.
  • by Sloppy (14984) on Monday November 12, 2001 @02:12PM (#2554551) Homepage Journal

    Soo... how come no one's talking about Stingers yet? Is everyone taking those 5-point don't-jump-to-conclusions posts seriously? Gimme a break, those are karma whores, through and through. Speculation is where the fun is.

    Here's something to think about, even if it turns out to be completely unrelated to what happened today: the resistance against the Soviets had shoulder-launched SAMs. They were trained how to use them, and used them effectively.

    Commercial aircraft take off on very predictable routes. It should be pretty easy to find an optimum firing position within a few miles of an airport, and park your car. You can study the pattern for weeks if you like. Then a plane goes right over your, you open the trunk, take out your Stinger, and shoot the slow-moving low-altitude plane (with nice hot engines at full takeoff power) in the back.

    Total security checkpoints you had to go through: zero, except when you smuggled the US-made SAM back into the country. (Or maybe you can even make your own right here -- the Sidewinder budget in the 50s was supposedly really low, and stuff that was cheap in the 50s is nearly free today). And you can do the shooting so fast, there might not even be any witnesses.

    Defending against that sort of thing is going to be tricky.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 12, 2001 @02:16PM (#2554578)
    The A300 was the first (and only?) passenger aircraft which is entirely under software control. This is know as "fly by wire", where mechanical controls have all been replaced by a data bus, sensors, and actuators. One possible problem is that if software developers didn't anticipate every failure mode, an unexpected loss of critical sensors could cause the control software to become confused, causing a further spiraling loss of control. Investigating failure in an A300 can not discount the contribution of software failure.
  • by MtViewGuy (197597) on Monday November 12, 2001 @04:00PM (#2555042)
    Folks,

    While a lot of people a angling towards the idea of a terrorist action, I think there's one possibility that no one has yet discussed: mechanical failure caused by a catastrophic bird strike.

    Far-fetched? Not if you know something about the geography and ecology at JFK Airport and Jamaica Bay. To the west and south of JFK Airport is a very large marshy area that serves as a sanctuary for migratory birds (plus some native waterfowl). This means at this time of the year--when birds are migrating south for the winter--there will be millions of birds out in this sanctuary.

    What happens when you have flocks of birds rising by the thousands getting in the way of the flight path of an airliner taking off out into Jamaica Bay? My guess is that American Airlines Flight 857 may have flown in to a very large flock of birds just after take off, mean the plane's two GE CF6-80 engines may be ingested 40 or more birds per engine somewhere between 1 and 2 seconds. That many birds being ingested will seriously damage the front engine blades, and such a severe bird ingestion may be enough to cause a catastrophic fan section failure, which can spew out very sharp engine fan blades at supersonic speeds, possibly breaking through the engine nacelle and hitting the fuselage, wing flap control lines and wing fuel tanks, which explains the fire on the wings that eyewitnesses saw.

    Eyewitnesses said that the plane flew very low before the plane lost one of its engines and then crashed down at a sharp angle. This sounds consistent with the plane suffering a catastrophic bird strike.

    If anyone remembers, some years ago an E-3A Sentry AWACS plane crashed aftering taking off from Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, AK after the engines failed due to a catastrophic bird ingestion problem. AA Flight 857 may have suffered a similar unfortunate fate. :-(
  • Fuel dumped? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ZerothAngel (219206) on Monday November 12, 2001 @05:01PM (#2555352)
    According to CNN, the pilot dumped the fuel before the plane went down. I wonder where the fuel went? Into the bay? Onto neighborhoods below?

    Regardless, it shows last-minute straight-thinking on the pilot's part. The fire on the ground could have been much worse.

"Once they go up, who cares where they come down? That's not my department." -- Werner von Braun

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