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The Flight 401 Was A Normal Flight

Definition: Everything was normal with flight 401, until they tried to land.

 

The flight had been normal until the final approach into Miami. When Stockstill had looked at the landing gear indicator, the green light that identifies that the gear is properly locked in the 'down' position didn't illuminate. This failure has two possible explanations: either the gear wasn't down, or the light wasn't working. The pilots recycled the gear. When the light still did not come on, they aborted the landing to examine the situation. The tower instructed the L-1011 to pull out of its decent, climb to two thousand feet, and then make a U-turn and flight west over the darkness of the Everglades. The cockpit crew removed the light assembly and the flight engineer was dispatched into the hell hole to visually check if the gear was down.

Fifty seconds after reaching their assigned altitude and when the plane was halfway through its U-turn, the captain instructed Stockstill to put the L-1011 on autopilot. For the next eighty seconds the plane maintained level flight. Then it dropped one hundred feet, and then again flew level for two more minutes, after which it began a descent so gradual it could not be perceived by the crew. In the next seventy seconds, the plane lost only 250 feet, but this was enough to trigger the altitude warning "C-chord" chime, which is clearly heard on the CVR tapes (but only for a 1/2 of a second and it was only on Repo's station who was down in the 'Hell Hole'). During the NTSB hearings, one Eastern captain testified that modern aircraft like the L-1011 have so many "clickers and clackers and bells," that the environment becomes filled with alert tones. "There should only be a warning when a warning need be, not when everything is ok," he noted. So it is possible that the soft, short audio alert went unnoticed in the din of cockpit noise. For whatever reason, there was no indication on Flight 401'a CVR recording that pilots heard the chime.

Meanwhile, the crew continued to attempt to reinstall the light assembly, which had become stuck in the panel ninety degrees clockwise, and would not come back out. During the NTSB hearings, an Eastern L-1011 captain noted that after the accident he and a mechanic tried to remove and replace the gear lamp only to find that, although it is square in shape, it has a small track and groove which only line up when the lamp is positioned correctly. He testified that the track starts about 50% of the way in, so if you start to push it in incorrectly, you don't realize it until the fixture is halfway in its housing and, by then, possibly jammed.

When Miami controller Charles H. Johnson, 40, inquired "how are things coming along out there," Eastern 401 was far below its assigned 2,000 foot altitude. The controller's handling of Eastern 401's go-around came under scrutiny at the NTSB hearings.

Collections:

Eastern Flight 401

 

Related Categories:

| Repo, Donald Louis | The Ghost of Flight 401 (TV Movie 1978) - IMDb | Loft, Robert Albin | About Flight 401 | Flight 401 - Possible Explanation | Lockheed L-1011 Cockpit | Lockheed L-1011 Landing Gear Lever | Lockheed L-1011 Inside the Hell Hole | Flight 401 - Flight Log | Ghosts of Flight 401 - 1 | Ghosts of Flight 401 - 2 | Ghosts of Flight 401 - 3 | Ghosts of Flight 401 - 4 | Ghosts of Flight 401 - 5 | Ghosts of Flight 401 - 6 | Official Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 - History, Photos, Survivors and Tribute | Johnson, Charles | Flight 401 Normal - Faulty Auto Pilot | Flight 401 - Autopilot indicator | Song - The Ghost of Flight 401 - Lyrics | The Ghost of Flight 401: Mystery Files | Flight 401 - First Response | Marquis, Robert | Flight 401 - Survivors and those who were lost | Raposa, Beverly | Ghosts of Flight 401 - 7 | The Ghost of Flight 401 (TV 1978) - YouTube | Flight 401 - Flight Crew Fatal Photograph | Possible Curse of Seminole Indians | NTSB Crash Report (Flight 401) | Miami International Airport Sighting | Flight 401 Crash Site Hauntings |

Resources:

  external linkEastern Airlines Flight 401 - Crash Investigation, Findings and Passenger List - Official Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 - History, Photos, Survivors and Tribute

 

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