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Tue Mar 27, 2012, 07:06 AM

This is why you keep your seatbelts at all times while flying

Is Boeing’s 737 an Airplane Prone to Problems?

The plane is America’s most popular model. But aviation experts worry that America’s most popular airplane is prone to cracks in its skin. An investigative report.

At 10:56 p.m. on April 1, last year, Southwest Airlines Flight 812, en route from Phoenix to Sacramento with 118 passengers aboard, was completing its climb to its cruise altitude of 36,000 feet, above the small town of Blythe, Calif. An air-traffic controller at Los Angeles Center had just acknowledged a routine call from the pilot. But within a minute or so of that exchange, the controller became aware that Flight 812 was in some kind of trouble. The messages were garbled until, finally, he heard the pilot clearly: “declaring an emergency we lost the cabin.”


Over the years, the Boeing 737 has been the world’s most popular airliner for intercity routes. One takes off or lands every 2.5 seconds. Its accident rate, compared with other aircraft, is relatively low: one for every 2.5 million hours flown. Even 45 years after the first 737 flew, airlines are so hungry for the latest model 737s that Boeing can barely meet the demand.


The trouble is, if the skin of the airplane is weakened, the pressurized air in the cabin will always find that weak point and attempt to escape. (When smoking was allowed on airplanes, inspectors looking for nascent failures in the skin could spot them as rings of nicotine deposits left as air leaked out). There are two consequences of skin failure: either a rapid decompression, as in the case of the two Southwest flights, during which the crew are able to retain control and make a rapid descent to a safe landing, or an explosive decompression, where the structural failure is extensive, instantaneous, and fatal.






There are two important safeguards that stand between safety and disaster: technology on the one hand and airline safety checks on the other. And the problem is that as the technology of fuselage design has evolved over several decades, the 737’s has not. As a result, the final responsibility for our safety has moved from Boeing to the maintenance and safety checks carried out by the airlines and supervised by the FAA. So far this final safety net has mostly worked—the flaws have been caught before they caused a fatal crash. But that’s no cause for complacency: an aging design with chronic problems remains our most frequently flown plane today.



http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/03/19/is-boeing-s-737-an-airplane-prone-to-problems.html

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Arrow 8 replies Author Time Post
Reply This is why you keep your seatbelts at all times while flying (Original post)
liberal N proud Mar 2012 OP
Evasporque Mar 2012 #1
backscatter712 Mar 2012 #2
FirstLight Mar 2012 #3
Blue_Tires Mar 2012 #5
HopeHoops Mar 2012 #4
Blue_Tires Mar 2012 #6
liberal N proud Mar 2012 #8
snooper2 Mar 2012 #7

Response to liberal N proud (Original post)

Tue Mar 27, 2012, 07:18 AM

1. More a like a reason to be thankful you are not in 1st Class....

I bet they all lost their cocktails...

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Response to liberal N proud (Original post)

Tue Mar 27, 2012, 07:26 AM

2. 737s just don't work well as convertibles... n/t

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Response to liberal N proud (Original post)

Tue Mar 27, 2012, 11:28 AM

3. What it comes down to is

the commercial planes we have in service are HOW old? These planes have not been revamped or even retired and replaced... it's like slapping duct tape on your grandpa's 57 chevy and driving it across country again & again...
instead, where is the money for new planes and technology going? WAR...

I personally have not flown commercial since jan 2001, so i'm not missing anything...if i need to get somewhere, i'll rent an RV and drive, or maybe eventually just join the wagon train

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Response to FirstLight (Reply #3)

Wed Mar 28, 2012, 12:22 PM

5. Age of an aircraft means nothing

The "age" of an airframe is measured in 1. Pressurization cycles, and 2. Hours in flight...And the Boeing 737 of today has little in common with the version from 1967 when it first flew, much like comparing a '67 Corvette with a 2012...

Each time a frame reaches a certain number of cycles it'll go through some form of check:

A Check — This is performed approximately every month. This check is usually done overnight at an airport gate. The actual occurrence of this check varies by aircraft type, the cycle count (takeoff and landing is considered an aircraft "cycle"), or the number of hours flown since the last check. The occurrence can be delayed by the airline if certain predetermined conditions are met.
B Check — This is performed approximately every 3 months. This check is also usually done overnight at an airport gate. A similar occurrence schedule applies to the B check as to the A check.
C Check — This is performed approximately every 12-18 months. This maintenance check puts the aircraft out of service and requires plenty of space - usually at a hangar at a maintenance base. The schedule of occurrence has many factors and components as has been described, and thus varies by aircraft category and type.
D Check — This is the heaviest check for the airplane. This check occurs approximately every 4-5 years. This is the check that, more or less, takes the entire airplane apart for inspection. This requires even more space and time than all other checks, and must be performed at a maintenance base.

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Response to liberal N proud (Original post)

Wed Mar 28, 2012, 12:16 PM

4. You're also less likely to spill your drink if the cabin suffers sudden decompression.

 

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Response to liberal N proud (Original post)

Wed Mar 28, 2012, 12:26 PM

6. The boys on airliners.net completely shredded this article apart

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Response to Blue_Tires (Reply #6)

Wed Mar 28, 2012, 12:41 PM

8. Looks like they are laying any problems off on the carriers

Which is probably pretty accurate. Cost cutting by these carriers stretches into inspections and maintenance.

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Response to liberal N proud (Original post)

Wed Mar 28, 2012, 12:39 PM

7. My concern level is beyond low, but in reading this, we should allow smoking on planes again

See what happens when you ban shit? Now inspectors don't have little nicotine rings anymore

Smoking on airplanes again! Who's with me! (And no more running outside and having to go back through fucking security during a layover LOL )

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