Flying in a jetliner is extraordinarily safe: There has been only one fatal crash in the United States in the past five years, an astounding record considering that more than 30,000 flights take off every day.
How did flying get so reliable? In part, because of accidents that triggered crucial safety improvements. Here are one of eight crashes and two emergency landings whose influence is felt “for the good” each time you step on a plane.
Ep.7 – PITTSBURGH | US Air Flight 427
When US Air Flight 427 began its approach to land at Pittsburgh, the Boeing 737 suddenly rolled to the left and plunged 5000 ft. to the ground, killing all 132 on board. The plane’s black box revealed that the rudder had abruptly moved to the full-left position, triggering the roll. But why? USAir blamed the plane. Boeing blamed the crew. It took nearly five years for the NTSB to conclude that a jammed valve in the rudder-control system had caused the rudder to reverse: As the pilots frantically pressed on the right rudder pedal, the rudder went left.
As a result, Boeing spent $500 million to retrofit all 2800 of the world’s most popular jetliner. And, in response to conflicts between the airline and the victims’ families, Congress passed the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act, which transferred survivor services to the NTSB.