Boeing 747 Explosive Decompression Accidents, AI 182, PA 103, UAL 811, TWA 800

Four early model Boeing 747s (747-100 and 747-200) have experienced a sudden explosive decompression which have resulted in fatalities. The sudden loud sound of the initial event was recorded on the cockpit voice recorders (CVR) and after analysis a bomb sound was ruled out. 

The model for the other three accidents is United Airlines Flight 811 which experienced the same sudden loud sound but was able to land largely intact. The evidence United Airlines Flight 811 matches in many ways the evidence of the other three. The official probable cause for UAL 811 and in the opinion of this independent investigator is the same for AI 182, PA 103, and TWA 800.

From NTSB AAR 92/02 for UAL 811: "The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the sudden opening of the forward lower lobe cargo door in flight and the subsequent explosive decompression. The door opening was attributed to a faulty switch or wiring in the door control system which permitted electrical actuation of the door latches toward the unlatched position after initial door closure and before takeoff. Contributing to the cause of the accident was a deficiency in the design of the cargo door locking mechanisms, which made them susceptible to deformation, allowing the door to become unlatched after being properly latched and locked."


811biggestholetexttoo

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Additional details at:
and this website, www.planetofearth.com. These sites were created by an independent aircraft accident investigator who is not affiliated with any government agency, law enforcement, attorneys, manufacturer, airline, or family victims.

Political Overview Statement
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The probable cause for all four accidents is the shorted wiring/unlatch motor on/ruptured open forward cargo door/explosive decompression/inflight breakup explanation.
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History:

Article in Flying magazine July 1992.

J. Mac McClellan Editor

'Door bomb?

John Barry Smith, of Carmel Valley, California, wrote with a provocative comment on the Pan Am 103 crash. Smith points out the similarities between the damage caused by the cargo door failure of United Flight 811 over the Pacific and that of Pan Am's 103 over Scotland. Both airplanes involved were Boeing 747s and both suffered massive structural damage to the lower forward fuselage. The United flight made it safely to Hawaii while Pan Am's 747 came down in pieces.

The cargo door from the United airplane was retrieved from very deep water, and examination of the door forced the NTSB to change its probable-cause finding for the accident. The Board had originally concluded that improper latching of the door before takeoff caused the

failure; but the minimal damage found on the door now indicates that an electrical malfunction probably caused electrically operated latches to open in flight. Smith points out how the cargo door opening at 23,000 feet on the United flight ripped a large hole in the fuselage and sent baggage and other debris into the number-three engine. He notes that the Pan Am flight was at a higher altitude when it suffered massive structural failure and that baggage and debris were also found in the number-three engine. He believes the greater differential cabin pressure of the higher altitude could have been enough to cause loss of the airplane if the cargo door opened on the Pan Am flight.

It's an interesting theory. British and U.S. investigators are working
with microscopic evidence of a bomb when in fact damage caused by thefailure of the cargo door on the United flight proves door failure could have caused the Pan Am crash. Actual bomb evidence is small and we're told finding it was one of the most astute investigative feats ever. Investigators also tell us that the bomb evidence is incontrovertible.
Could they be wrong? The NTSB was wrong about the United cargo door failure until the actual door was recovered from the ocean floor. The bomb on board the Pan Am flight may have been the cargo door latches, not plastic explosive hidden in a portable radio. Politics drives the investigation to search for terrorists but aviation safety demands a totally open mind and the suspicion that the airplane could have failed without outside interference. Smith has no evidence that a cargo door failed on Pan Am 103-but he gives us something to think about.'

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The linchpin clue match for UAL Flight 811 to the other three is the extremely rare sudden loud sound on the cockpit voice recorder of all four aircraft implying that one unifying initiating event caused the accidents. The below chart 12 is from the TWA 800 Public Docket created by NTSB and shows the acoustic analysis of the sudden loud sound on the CVR of TWA Flight 800, Pan Am Flight 103, and Air India Flight 182. The sound is not a bomb sound because of absent necessary frequencies and the rise time is too slow for a bomb explosion but the spectrum is consistent with a sudden explosive decompression which would occur with an inadvertent opening of the forward cargo door while the aircraft is in flight and fuselage pressurized.
chart12
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The shorted wiring/unlatch motor on/ruptured open forward cargo door/explosive decompression/inflight breakup explanation described in pictures, text, and drawings for United Airlines Flight 811, Pan Am Flight 103, Air India Flight 182, and Trans World Airlines Flight 800.

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Smith Aviation Accident Reports (AAR) These three AAR explain in detail the shorted wiring/unlatch motor on/ruptured open forward cargo door/explosive decompression/inflight breakup explanation and provide supporting documents, schematics, photographs, text, charts, analysis, and consideration of the other plausible explanations for the inflight breakups. All reports below are in PDF format.
Pan Am Flight 103 Smith AAR
TWA Flight 800 Smith AAR
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Government Aviation Accident Reports (AAR):
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Air India Flight 182 John Major Commission Inquiry Submissions:
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Smith Table of Matches for TWA Flight 800, UAL Flight 811, Pan Am Flight 103, and Air India Flight 182

SmithtabletopClick for Larger image

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SmithtablebottomClick for larger image

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Substantiating the Wiring/Cargo Door explanation by matches to three other fatal events and UAL Flight 811:

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Efforts to get the manufacturing defect of faulty wiring fixed and the design flaws of inadequate locking sectors and non plug cargo doors corrected by correspondence via emails.

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3. NTSB
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Air India Flight 182
Government Agencies and officials
1. Bill Tucker of CASB Director General, Investigation Operations
2. Justice John Major Commission of Inquiry into the Investigation of the Bombing of Air India Flight 182
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Pan Am Flight 103
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TWA Flight 800
Government Agencies and officials
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Correspondence in a forum.
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Pictures of Boeing 747s and TWA Flight 800, UAL Flight 811, Pan Am Flight 103, and Air India Flight 182 (Average 15 meg PDF files but a few are much larger. 
Cargo door pictures
TWA Flight 800
UAL Flight 811
Pan Am Flight 103
Air India Flight 182
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Other Aircraft Accident Reports and articles related to wiring/cargo door problems for Boeing 747s. AARs below for 737s, DC-9, DC-10, MD-11, and Comet in PDF files:
China Airlines Flight 611
Official AAR China Airlines Flight 611 Boeing 747-200  May 25, 2002
Two volumes:
Concorde Accident AAR July 25, 2000
Swissair Flight Flight 111 AAR TSB MD-11, September 2, 1998
Japan Airlines Flight 46E, Boeing 747-121 March 31, 1993
Bournemouth Boeing 737 October 22, 1995
El Al Flight 1862 Boeing 747, 258F, October 4, 1992
UTA Flight 772 DC-10 September 19, 1989
Valujet Airlines Flight 592 DC-9 May 11, 1996
Aloha Airlines Flight 243 Boeing 737, April 28, 1988
American Airlines Flight 96 DC-10 June 12, 1972.
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Letters to Safety officials for China Airlines Flight 611
Letters from Safety officials
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barry@johnbarrysmith.com Copyright 2009, 2010