American 191: 34 years

34 years ago today, American Airlines 191, a DC-10-10, crashed on departure from Chicago O’Hare International Airport. All 271 souls aboard were killed in the accident.

Shortly after accelerating for takeoff, the #1 engine departed the airframe, flying over the wing and impacting the runway. There was extensive damage to the hydraulic and electrical system, and a large piece of the leading edge was torn off the wing. The plane crashed about 30 seconds after departure. There was nothing that the flight crew could do to stop this from happening.


American 191 after departure.

The accident resulted from some questionable maintenance practices at American. Despite warnings from McDonnell-Douglas, American was using abbreviated engine maintenance procedures to save man-hours and money.

Ultimately, the desire of a few executives to save a few bucks on maintenance cost 271 people their lives.

In a world driven by profit, perhaps we would all do well to remember that sometimes there are more important things than money.

May they all rest in peace.


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