Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on August 13, 1972 · Page 143
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August 13, 1972

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 143

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Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 13, 1972
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Page 143
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Page 143 article text (OCR)

More Less I wr*/*/' Vigor Stamina Endurance eart Stress ?ROOFT Send f« r Free took II y««rt' umw«iry r«»»qrtl». ("Richest noturol source Yitomin E"l SUBSTITUTES - Only VioBin Oil proved effective. FALSE TEETH That Loosen Need Not Embarrass Don't keep worrying about your false teeth dropping at the wrong (·"me. A denture adhesive can help. FASTEETH* gives dentures a longer, firmer, steadier hold. Makes eating more enjoyable. For more security and comfort, use FASTEETH Denture Adhesive Powder. Dentures that fit are essential to health. See your dentist regularly. CHINA DOLLAR only IOC Uncirculated nickel silver dollar minted in 1960 to Commemorate SOth anniversary of the Republic of China ' Formosa i . . . only one to a customer... a beautiful coin and ONLY lot. SUPPLY LIMITED 1 SEND TODAY. You will also receive the most wonderful catalog of com offers In America. It lists hundreds of coins and collector's accessories to make your hobby more enjoyable. Send name, address zip number and 10« for your C h i n a Dollar to- LITTLETON COIN CO. Dcpt. C-44. Littleton. N. M. 01M1. FIX BROKEN DENTURES At easy to use. Works every time, QUiK-FIX* or you r money hack. Human error may have been responsible for the death of 118 persons aboard this BEA Trident which crashed minutes after liftoff from London's airpo't. Wto Plans Crash by Lloyd Shearer E very time an airplane crashes, chances are even-money that simple human error is responsible. Dr. F. S. Preston, medical director of BEA (British European Airways) and BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) revealed this startling disclosure at a workshop on aircrew problems held recently in Edinburgh, Scotland. In the past 16 years, Dr. Preston pointed out, crew fallibility has been responsible for 47 percent of the 148 jet crashes which resulted in total destruction of the aircraft and heavy loss of life. Of the accidents attributed to crew error, he declared, about 60 percent were caused by errors in judgment, 25 percent by incorrect technique, and 10 percent by navigational miscalculation. Ironically, Dr. Preston made his remarks just prior to the trio of commercial jet crashes this past June which claimed almost 300 lives in England, India, and South Vietnam. The preliminary investigation of at least one of these crashes tragically illustrates the problem of pilot fallibility. On June 18, 1972, a BEA Trident named "Papa India" en route to Brussels, piloted by a gruff, angry, upset captain and two young, inexperienced copilots, crashed shortly after taking off from London's Heathrow Airport. All 118 aboard the jet were killed. The official Cause of the crash was listed as "premature retraction of the droops"--the wing flaps which provide lift during takeoff. If the flaps are retracted before the aircraft has attained sufficient speed, the plane will stall. In this case the flaps should not have been retracted until the plane had achieved a minimum speed of 225 knots. Instead, they were retracted when the airspeed was 164 knots. Who was responsible and why? Tragic error The tragic error may have been committed by one of the plane's two young copilots, aged 22 and 24. But Captain Stanley Key, 51, a veteran pilot of Britain's World War II bomber command, compounded the initial error. He prevented the aircraft's automatic counter- stall device from taking effect. The control column of the Trident automatically reacts to just such a stall situation by pointing the aircraft nose downwards to pick up speed. And yet, according to the flight recorder, Captain Key twice, possibly three times, pulled back on the stick, trying to raise, rather than lower, the nose of the plane. Why would a mature, experienced pilot deliberately prevent his aircraft's Stanley Key, pilot of fatal flight, was reportedly upset by strike plan. automatic recovery? Why would he do exactly the opposite of what he was trained to do and in fact had undoubtedly done hundreds of times before? Did he panic? Did he lose his self- control? His colleagues report that Captain Key was extremely agitated on the day of his death about a proposed strike of BEA pilots scheduled for the following week. He was vehemently opposed to the strike and had circulated a petition opposing it. Moreover he was planning to address a strike meeting of the pilots the day following his accident. Argumentative Short of temper as well as stature (5 feet 5), Key, on the fateful day, entered into a heated argument about the strike in the crew-reporting room at Heathrow. He also got into another dispute over excess cargo. Exercising the captain's prerogative, he insisted upon leaving behind some cargo which might have hampered the plane's "trim"-safe handling characteristics--even though the Trident was not overloaded. Fellow pilots speculate that Key on the takeoff was overwrought about the proposed strike and still angry about the cargo dispute. Subsequently when his plane began to stall, he immediately, tragically, and erroneously jumped to the conclusion that the aircraft was badly "trimmed." Psychologists term this behavior pattern "set" or temporary fixation. Disregarding the warning signals on his control panel which indicated the valid problem, Key, they surmise, might have pulled back on the stick to correct his "trim." Had the Trident been badly trimmed, this would have been the correct procedure. Tragically, it was. not. Frantic moments No one will ever know what passed through Captain Key's mind during the few frantic moments before "Papa India" plunged to destruction. The British court of inquiry on the BEA crash may or may not be able to assess the imponderable quality of human error. Perhaps the court will suggest that no pilot fly a plane when he is angry or distraught. Accidents are caused by a conjunction of man and machine. Perhaps man cannot be perfected, but machines can. Perhaps the answer lies in pilot-less aircraft. In the United States, the National Transportation Safety Board reports that the proportion of air accidents caused by pilot error has remained fairly constant over the years. In a soon-to-be-published study of all U.S. air carriers during the 5-year period, 1964-69, the board lists pilot error as "a causal factor in 44.9 percent of all accidents." If it's any comfort to anyone, it's still safer to fly in this country than to take a bus, train, or to drive your own car, this last especially when you're angry. PARADE · AUGUST 13,1972

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