Can a damaged engine bring down a modern multi-engine aircraft? The story of Atlantic Southeast Airlines flight 529.

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Episode credited cast:
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Narrator (voice)
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Ed Gannaway - Captain
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Matt Warmerdam - Co-Pilot
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Robin Fech - Flight Attendant
Michael Ripley ...
David McCorkell
Peter Prystanski ...
Chuck Pfisterer
Bobby Prochaska ...
ATC Controller
Jason Knight ...
ATAP Controller
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Narrator - UK Version (voice)
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Dawn Dumm
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Can a damaged engine bring down a modern multi-engine aircraft? The story of Atlantic Southeast Airlines flight 529.

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2004 (Canada)  »

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Goofs

(at around 32 mins) After David McCorkell swung his axe a few times, the "weakened axe head" flew off the handle. However, around 30 seconds later during Guy Pope's testimony, McCorkell handed Pope the hatchet, fully intact. There was never a mention on how McCorkell was able to mend the hatchet or whether he obtained a new one before Pope arrived. See more »

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User Reviews

 
On A Wing And A Prayer -- Just One Wing.
18 October 2016 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

An Atlanta Southeast Airlines Brazilia with some 30 people aboard takes off from Atlanta for the relatively short hop to Gulfport, Mississippi. The Brazilia is a passenger airliner, cramped, powered by two turboprop engines. It's a popular airplane but it's hard to handle.

With the autopilot engaged, the Brazilia is climbing to its cruising altitude of 24,000 feet. It doesn't get there. A bang and a severe jolt. "It was like somebody took a baseball bat hit a tin garbage can as hard as he could." The aluminum skin of the left engine had peeled away, exposing its mysterious, tangled innards to the horrified passengers.

What a concordance of unfortunate circumstances. The airplane is trying to pull hard to the left against the drag of the damaged engine and it's dropping precipitously. The pilots are focused on maintaining altitude, too busy to look over their shoulders and see that the engine is destroyed. They try to feather the prop which, of course, has no effect since the propeller is now a couple of blades of twisted metal.

They ask the flight attendant to inform the passengers. She doesn't tell the pilots that she's seen from the passengers' windows that the engine has been demolished. She assumes they already know. The pilots ask for the heading for the nearest airport, a smaller field, and have emergency services ready. The ATC gives them a closer airport but fails to notify the airport that emergency services will be needed.

The investigative team finds three important causes. One is the separation of one of the propeller blades due to mistakes in maintenance. Several Hamilton Standards props had failed before but the errors weren't fixed. Another problem was the jet fuel. Everyone miraculously survived the impact with minor and major injuries. The deaths were cause by the highly inflammable fuel used in commercial aviation. The Navy uses a safer fuel but it costs more to manufacture. Many of the survivors died later from opportunistic infections. The third cause was the failure of the controller to notify Atlanta's emergency services. People who would otherwise have survived were burned alive.

As usual, this is a finely knit episode in a superior series, both dramatic and informative.


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