On this day: in history (1974), a DC-10 jet crashed into a forest outside of Paris, France, killing all 346 people on board, after taking off with faulty hatch door improperly locked. Meanwhile, maintenance on the DC-10 was suffering a fatal breakdown. The station mechanic was supposed to do a visual inspection of the rear hatch door. However, the station mechanic was on vacation on this day and the flight engineer apparently forgot to assume this duty.
At 12:30 p.m, as the plane reached an altitude of 11,000 feet just after take off, the rear hatch door blew off over Coulommiers, France. The last two rows of seats on the DC-10 were sucked right out of a hole in the fuselage. The six passengers in those seats were killed immediately when they fell into a turnip field in St. Pathus.
The other 340 people on board had to endure 90 more seconds in the air. The pilots were unable to control the plane because all the critical hydraulic cables had been severed. The plane slammed into the ground at 500 miles per hour, killing everyone on board. The impact was so severe that only 40 bodies were found intact.
In the aftermath, McDonnell Douglas, the plane’s manufacturer, sought to blame a baggage handler for failing to properly secure the hatch. This prompted the baggage handlers’ union to boycott all DC-10s until a company emissary finally apologized. Following this disaster, all DC-10s were recalled to modify the rear-hatch latching mechanism.
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Created by Okey Obiabunmo