The Role of Crew Resource Management in the United Airlines Flight 232 Crash
On July 19, 1989, United Airlines Flight 232 experienced an in-flight engine failure which resulted in the loss of hydraulic pressure and the aircraft's eventual crash landing in Sioux City, Iowa. The accident killed 111 people out of the 285 onboard (including 9 crew members), but thanks to the heroic efforts of the flight crew and others, 184 people survived.
The story of United Airlines Flight 232 is a remarkable example of how effective communication and teamwork can save lives in the face of tragedy. In this essay, we will discuss the events of the accident, as well as the role played by crew resource management (CRM) in mitigating disaster.
2. The events of the accident
On July 19, 1989, United Airlines Flight 232 was scheduled to fly from Denver to Chicago. The McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10 aircraft, registered as N1819U, took off from Denver International Airport at 14:09 with 285 people onboard: 26 crew members and 259 passengers. Approximately 46 minutes into the flight, while cruising at 37,000 feet over Iowa, one of the engine's three spools failed, causing a sudden rise in vibration and temperature within the engine. A few seconds later, a second engine spool failed, and then a third. With all three engines now malfunctioning, the airplane began to lose altitude rapidly.
The loss of hydraulic pressure caused by the engine failure made it impossible for the pilots to control the aircraft's rudders or flaps. As a result, the plane became difficult to steer and landed nose-first in a cornfield near Sioux City Municipal Airport at 15:01. Although the airplane was destroyed upon impact, all but 10 people onboard survived the crash.
3. Crew resource management
In order to understand how such a high number of people were able to survive the crash landing of United Airlines Flight 232, it is necessary to examine the role played by crew resource management (CRM). CRM is a system that was developed in order to improve communication and coordination between air traffic controllers and flight crews. It has since been expanded to encompass other aspects of aviation safety, such as human factors engineering and emergency procedures training.
In the case of United Airlines Flight 232, CRM played a vital role in mitigating disaster. The flight crew's effective strategy for dealing with the engine failure and subsequent loss of hydraulic pressure undoubtedly saved many lives. Furthermore, proper interpersonal communication between the pilots and air traffic controllers helped to ensure that everyone onboard was aware of what was happening and knew what needed to be done in order to improve the chances of survival. Finally, the ability of everyone involved to remain calm in such a stressful situation undoubtedly contributed to the positive outcome.
The story of United Airlines Flight 232 is a remarkable example of how effective communication and teamwork can save lives in the face of tragedy. Thanks to the heroic efforts of the flight crew and others, 184 people survived what could have been a much more devastating accident. The role played by crew resource management cannot be understated; it is clear that without CRM, many more lives would have been lost
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