Although the probability of an aircraft accident is the minimum, its effects can be catastrophic. The crash of flight 587 in 2001 was a tragic incident that left all the passengers and crewmembers dead. Flight 587 had just left the John F. Kennedy Airport when some of its parts burst into flames about three minutes later while in midair. The accident also claimed the lives of five individuals on the ground. The incidence burnt about 12 homes. Moreover, the accident resulted in the destruction of property in the Rockaway neighbourhood. Initially, various experts had attributed various factors such as terrorism, sabotage, and mechanical failure to the accident. However, NTSB concluded that the disconnection of the plane’s vertical stabilizer caused the accident. The first section of this discussion focuses on the summary of the crash, the second focuses on emergency response, while the third focuses on the information that NTSB reported on the crash regarding emergency response.
Key words: aircraft accident, crash, flight, passenger, crewmember, jetliner, terrorism, sabotage, mechanical problem, emergency response.
I. Summary of Crash The American Airlines Flight 587 that was heading towards Santo Domingo from New York crashed in Queens in mid-November of 2001 (Kleinfield, 2001). The jetliner had 260 people with all of them perishing in the crash. The plane was carrying nine crewmembers and flight attendants and 251 passengers. The jetliner crashed in Queens a few minutes after taking off at about a quarter past nine in the morning at the John F. Kennedy International Airport. The majority of the passengers on board were immigrants of the Dominican origin residing in Washington Heights. Moreover, the crash affected twelve homes in the neighbourhood. The crash was the fourth among the major plane crashes since 1996 indicating that it had a significant impact. According to NTSB, post-crash fire and various impact forces destroyed the plane. Post-accident reports indicate that the plane was uneventful. The flight had arrived at the airport on the previous night from Costa Rica.
A. What Caused the Crash?
Eyewitnesses claimed that they witnessed one of the engines bursting into flames when the plane was still in the air. The engine then separated from the rest of the plane veering towards the ground. However, they were not sure on whether it was the right engine or the left engine. After this separation, the plane twisted, turning on its nose, and plunged into the ground. Aviation experts investigating the crash had various factors that could explain the crash. These factors include terrorism, sabotage, and mechanical problems. Before the crash, the engine of the plane had various problems, and aviation engineers had to equip the plane with a pair of general electric CF-6 engines (Kleinfield, 2001). Aviation experts reported that the internal components of the engines had a history of breaking free piercing the outer parts of the engine.
The most probable reason for the crash was the disconnection of the vertical stabilizer due to excessive loads. The creation of the unnecessary additional load may have been the mistake of the first officer. The NTSB believes that the officer may have injected several excessive and unnecessary inputs on the rudder pedal (NTSB, 2004). The inputs were beyond the design of the plane resulting in the accident. However, the NTSB also blames the design of the Airbus for the unnecessary inputs. Moreover, it is important to mention that the rudder is connected to the vertical stabilizer. Then, a problem with any of the two parts disables both parts. Furthermore, aviation experts argue that officers use rudders on rare occasions indicating that maybe the spoilers of Flight 587 had failed (NTSB, 2004). Spoilers control roll, but in case they become non-functional, then officers can use the rudder. Although the plane had no major issue during the fuelling process, reports indicate that the avionics officer had claimed that number two pitch trim had a problem just one hour to departure time. However, avionics experts solved the problem, and the AFS check showed no fault.
The plane started experiencing turbulence issues about two minutes after take-off. These issues prompted the officers to introduce various procedures such as maximum power. Nevertheless, three seconds later, the right rear attachment of the vertical stabilizer fractured resulting to a loud thump. A few seconds later, the vertical stabilizer detached from the plane. The CVR records show that a minute later, none of the officers grunted signifying a problem. The plane then crashed (NTSB, 2004). The post-accident reviews revealed that both pilots and individuals in the aviation industry lacked clear information on the rudder systems and held wrong views about it. The pilots of Flight 587 may have held similar perceptions resulting in the wrong use of rudder systems. Consequently, this wrong use affected the vertical stabilizer leading to its separation. Expert analysis indicates that it is likely that they were unaware that the system cannot work at high airspeed.
B. What Areas were Impacted by the Crash?
The crash caused a serious impact on the ground and to the people onboard. The total fatalities were 265. Of the 265.251, there were passengers, two flight attendants, five people on the ground, and seven cabin crew (NTSB, 2004). The disengagement of the vertical stabilizer also leads to the destruction of the property. The separation caused the engines to rest. On the ground, the crash affected several homes on both large and small scale. The crash destroyed four homes, damaged three homes substantially, and caused minor damage to three other homes. The plane crash also caused minor damage to a gas station due to the impact forces of the plane’s left engine. The right engine affected a boat and home significantly.
The crash affected the Rockaway’s neighbourhood that accommodates a significant number of police personnel and fire-fighters. The crash resulted in mental disturbance as the personnel was still recovering from the 9/11 attacks (Wakin, 2001). The incident also affected the Jamaican Bay destroying property. The vertical stabilizer of the plane’s rudder fell into the bay almost one mile from the main site of the accident.
The crash affected certain areas in New York indirectly. The incidence facilitated a temporary closure of all major airports in New York. These airports include the Newark, John F. Kennedy, and LaGuardia. Nonetheless, they reopened after some time to allow incoming flights. The decision to close down the airports temporarily affected the flow of traffic at the airports scaring passengers who were already scared after the 9/11 attacks. Moreover, accident prompted the temporary closure of tunnels and bridges within New York. Furthermore, the Flight 587 crash affected business at the Empire State Building. The police had to evacuate people for security purposes. The accident also gave the customs officials at the Las Americas International Airport a hard time (CNN, 2001). A significant number of relatives of the passengers were already at the airport ready to receive them when they got the news of the crash. The customs department had a difficult time calming them down.
II. Emergency Response to Crash A. What was the Local Emergency Response?
Aircraft accidents can occur anywhere and at any time. Although the crashing of Flight 587 was a unique incident, the emergency following the accident was also unique. Since the Flight 587 was a large aircraft, it required additional emergency systems. Various groups and individuals showed up at the site to offer their help. The emergency response was prompt with various volunteers, fire-fighters, police personnel, and residents. Fire-fighting trucks and ambulances arrived almost immediately to offer help. In this case, it is important to note that the local emergency response was prompt as various groups cooperated to help normalize the situation. Every individual, including the young, felt that they had a responsibility in reducing the effects of the fire. Hence, they help reduce the number of fatalities on the ground.
1. Who was the first on the scene and what was the action taken?
The primary responders at aircraft accidents scenes are the law enforces. However, for the case of the Flight 587, it was difficult for the law enforcers to seal off the scenes of the accident from the public. The incident attracted a significant number of individuals from the neighbourhood. The majority of these people had lost close family member or friend during the 9/11 attacks (Bella
Alitalia Airlines: Financial Crisis Management
Crisis survival for Alitalia: Strategy re-evaluation for its continuous viability in the medium and long term.
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Introduction Based out of Rome, Alitalia is the national airline of Italy which was founded on 16 September 1946 under the name ‘Aerolinee Italiane Internazionali’ and is known as ‘Linee Aeree Italiane S.p.A. (Alitalia, 2006). Alitalia is 49% owned the Italian Ministry of the Treasury, other shareholders, which includes its employees at 49% as well as Air France – KLM which holds a 2% stake (Alitalia, 2006). As the leading airline in the country, Alitalia flies to more than 100 locales from its hubs in Milan and Rome, utilizing a fleet of 175 aircraft (Hoover’s, 2006). A major factor t be remembered and considered throughout this analysis and examination that Alitalia is a state owned airline and history has shown that the large staffs, inefficiencies, lower productivity and higher operational costs associated with such institutions makes them uncompetitive when matched against private industry. That legacy befell the fates of Sabena, Swissair and saw KLM Royal Dutch Airlines become an acquisition by Air France in May of 2004 (BusinessWeek online, 2004). The liberalisation of the European airline industry was the beginning of the downward spiral for the indicated airlines as the process, as deregulation entails the removal of government restrictions which opened the domestic markets of all European Union countries to any company in Europe (Badi et al, 1995, pp. 245-59). The process of deregulation increased competitive levels in the industry thereby promoting heightened productivity, increased efficiency and lowered prices as markets were pen to the laws of supply and demand.
Under the deregulation process implemented by the European Union, legal monopolies as well as government aid for carriers disappeared, and aid reduction was supplanted by public funds, with most airlines finally becoming privatized (Ng and Seabright, 2001, pp. 591-619). Thus, the open sky policy, as it is termed, caused European airlines to restructure the manner in which they conducted business internally, through improving efficiencies as a result of direct competition. The main strategy that has arisen from the preceding has been the increasing of productivity. The emergence of the low cost carriers as a force in the industry has created additional pressures for the traditional full service airlines. The low cost carrier model of no frills, utilization of secondary airports and concentration on lower ticket prices has shaken the underpinnings of the traditional full service carriers which took off in Europe after the events of September 11th which generated a global melt down throughout the industry.
Prior to deregulation, the national flag carriers, such as Alitalia, were supported by monopolies, legal, and were dominant throughout the European community (White, 1979, pp. 545-73). Airlines during that era shared intra European routes as a result f bilateral agreements and the airlines companies were primarily owned by governments with their losses underwritten by public funds (White, 1979, pp. 545-73). This structure left little incentive for bottom line accountability, productivity or innovation, a situation which aptly describes Alitalia, and this atmosphere served to shape the company’s operational and management culture as a job with Alitalia was decidedly plush and devoid of the usual performance standards. Today’s market has seen a shift to where almost all of these carriers have been privatized, with the disappearance of the corresponding government aid, and the legal monopolies have disappeared.
Alitalia has always been a plodding governmental type airline operation, burdened with over staffing and low productivity. Examples of the foregoing can be found in the fact that Alitalia pilots average less than 500 flying hours per year versus the industry average f 600 to 700 for most carriers in Europe (BusinessWeek online, 2004). Half of the company’s fleet consists of high maintenance McDonnell-Douglas airframes that cost twice as much to operate than the newer more efficient airframes resulting in what analysts estimate as operational costs that are between 30% to 40% above the industry norm of other European Flag airlines (BusinessWeek online, 2004).
The historical summary of the airline climate in Europe prior to deregulation, and the nuances of the monopolistic environment surrounding the flag carriers is an important background variable in understanding the manner in which Alitalia evolved, and the underpinnings of its organizational and cultural structures. Indicative of the waste which is prevalent in the company, as indicated by the examples of pilot flight hours and the age as well as composition of its fleet, is that the crews for the Milan hub live in Rome and commute via the airlines flight to work, occupying on average 60 percent of the seats on the morning flight (Business Report