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Eastern Air Lines Flight 980 (1985)

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Eastern Air Lines Flight 980 (1985)

Old 7th Jun 2016, 01:31
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Eastern Air Lines Flight 980 (1985)

At 20,098 MSL, it is the highest controlled flight into terrain aviation accident.
On Jan 1, 1985 the B727-225 collided into Mount Illimani in Bolivia where debris became buried in snow.
About 10 years ago, wreckage was spotted. And now two adventurers have reached the site and appear to have recovered what remains of the FDR and CVR.

There is a Boston Globe article (https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/20...lGO/story.html).

And details are here:
https://operationthonapa.com/31-year...e61#.r2qnfbmd4
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Old 7th Jun 2016, 01:56
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From what I know of the recorders, that tape is definitely not from either of them.
Now that the crash site has thawed, perhaps it should be visited by someone with more aviation accident investigation skills.
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Old 7th Jun 2016, 02:18
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Final Destination: Disaster: What Really Happened to Eastern Airlines
by George Jehn

A must read about what really happened to Eastern Air Lines, written by EAL CA and ALPA officer George Jehn and how this crash became the beginning of the end for them.

In a nutshell, this crash remains the only US airline crash in history to not be properly investigated by the NTSB: the book subtly suggests they were ordered not to investigate it (even though they performed a purposely-botched "quasi" investigation to quell the protests of some victims' family members.) The thinking (and logic) behind this was that the crash apparently would implicate some very high-level country leaders that may have had some shady dealings with Eastern. The NTSB came up with some very lame excuses to avoid investigating it (high altitude, snow, ice...despite the fact that they have moved hell and high water to investigate far more inaccessible crash sites in the past.) In the end, they acquiesced to pressure and performed such a poorly led and self-botched investigation that would make an amateur proud.

Once the crash happened, it appears the order went out from way above to liquidate the airline. Hence, Frank Borman's fire sale to Frank Lorenzo, whose mission it became to liquidate the airline through whatever means possible. Lorenzo chose the most obvious way: bleed the airline and make it look like the unions' fault, provoking them all the way to a strike, which tightened the death spiral even more.

The rest is history.

Fascinating read and well worth it.
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Old 7th Jun 2016, 02:38
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From what I know of the recorders, that tape is definitely not from either of them.
Now that the crash site has thawed, perhaps it should be visited by someone with more aviation accident investigation skills.
I agree, looks more like black electrical tape to me. And the blogger and journalist seem to use the generic term 'data recorder' for both the CVR and FDR.

That Eastern crash was a stealth event at the time back in the States. 'Only' 29 people aboard, on a holiday in the early CNN era with no video of the scene.

According to an Associated Press article late in the same year, 'It was the first of many airline crashes that have claimed nearly 2,000 lives this year, and is one of the most mysterious.':

https://news.google.com/newspapers?n...,7177582&hl=en
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Old 7th Jun 2016, 04:50
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Now that I look at it a little more, perhaps the tape is a reel from a VHS cassette.

Greg Feith was the lead investigator on the NTSB expedition to Mount Illimani in 1985. If this latest news story makes it into the media cycle, I would imagine that he will soon weigh in (with a loud necktie) to dispel some of the conspiracy theories bandied about by the Eastern folks.

Maybe Eastern 980 was blown out of the sky as revenge for cocaine smuggling from a rival cartel. Or as a hit on a very early part of Ollie North's Iran/Contra operations. But CFIT in South America seems more likely to me in the absence of more compelling evidence than a former EAL ALPA rep's analysis.

Anecdotally, there were some very mysterious charters on the 727 flown in the mid to late '80's out of Miami by Eastern and Pan Am and on the C-130 by Southern Air Transport. Tales of bullet holes in the fuselage and rifles shipped in 55 gallon oil barrels. Tall tales or covert government operations?
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Old 7th Jun 2016, 04:57
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I have flown by the wreckage many times on the same approach and if the sun is right, one can see reflections from the metal.
Rumor says it was the Captains first flight in the left seat and he screwed up the procedure turn or whatever he was doing.
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Old 7th Jun 2016, 07:27
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Originally Posted by aa73 View Post
In a nutshell, this crash remains the only US airline crash in history to not be properly investigated by the NTSB
When was the NTSB's remit extended to include initiating investigations into accidents occurring outside the USA?
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Old 7th Jun 2016, 10:32
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Originally Posted by aa73 View Post
Final Destination: Disaster: What Really Happened to Eastern Airlines
by George Jehn

A must read about what really happened to Eastern Air Lines, written by EAL CA and ALPA officer George Jehn and how this crash became the beginning of the end for them.

In a nutshell, this crash remains the only US airline crash in history to not be properly investigated by the NTSB: the book subtly suggests they were ordered not to investigate it (even though they performed a purposely-botched "quasi" investigation to quell the protests of some victims' family members.) The thinking (and logic) behind this was that the crash apparently would implicate some very high-level country leaders that may have had some shady dealings with Eastern. The NTSB came up with some very lame excuses to avoid investigating it (high altitude, snow, ice...despite the fact that they have moved hell and high water to investigate far more inaccessible crash sites in the past.) In the end, they acquiesced to pressure and performed such a poorly led and self-botched investigation that would make an amateur proud.

Once the crash happened, it appears the order went out from way above to liquidate the airline. Hence, Frank Borman's fire sale to Frank Lorenzo, whose mission it became to liquidate the airline through whatever means possible. Lorenzo chose the most obvious way: bleed the airline and make it look like the unions' fault, provoking them all the way to a strike, which tightened the death spiral even more.

The rest is history.

Fascinating read and well worth it.


I pretty sure there was no NTSB accident report for the Western Airlines DC10 in Mexico City. I have read the ALPA report which is a fairly good record of what happened.
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Old 7th Jun 2016, 10:46
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK View Post
When was the NTSB's remit extended to include initiating investigations into accidents occurring outside the USA?
When it involves a US Air Carrier or US manufactured aircraft under Annex 13, Mr. Reid.
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Old 7th Jun 2016, 11:04
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Oh really? Last time I looked Annex 13:

5.1 The State of Occurrence shall institute an investigation into the circumstances of the accident and be responsible for the conduct of the investigation, but it may delegate the whole or any part of the conducting of such investigation to another State by mutual arrangement and consent. In any event the State of Occurrence shall use every means to facilitate the investigation.
For Sure, State of Registry and manufacturer have a right to be involved but the are not automatically liable to initiate an investigation when an accident occurs in a contracting state; that responsibility lies with the State of Occurrence, Mr vapilot2004.
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Old 7th Jun 2016, 13:04
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For Sure, State of Registry and manufacturer have a right to be involved but the are not automatically liable to initiate an investigation when an accident occurs in a contracting state; that responsibility lies with the State of Occurrence,
all true, so where is the accident report from the governing state? and why discuss a possible cover up by only a single party?
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Old 7th Jun 2016, 16:50
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Dunno. I was just highlighting that Dave Reid was not incorrect with his statement.
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Old 7th Jun 2016, 17:41
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Originally Posted by Cows getting bigger View Post
I was just highlighting that Dave Reid was not incorrect with his statement.
And he is not ungrateful for your backing.
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Old 20th Oct 2016, 05:33
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Eastern Airlines Flight 980 Black Boxes Found

Two Massachusetts men say they have found long-lost ?black boxes? in Bolivia - The Boston Globe
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Old 20th Oct 2016, 06:42
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Pretty much destroyed, unfortunately.
Here's their blog with pictures:

https://operationthonapa.com/31-year...e61#.vokxlr67w
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Old 20th Oct 2016, 10:07
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The British Eagle Viscount recording wire was said to be in 20,000 pieces. At the time I heard that from various sources but the word anecdotal comes to mind. However, if there is a running time-line on the wire, I suppose it's just about possible.
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Old 20th Oct 2016, 14:17
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The NTSB tried a climb a long time ago but gave up.

Anyone know whether Bolivia issued an official accident with the IFR charts current at the time? I have the current La Paz charts but they could have changed.
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Old 20th Oct 2016, 14:50
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Earlier discussion with a couple of conspiracy theories on this PPRuNe thread from a few months ago:

http://www.pprune.org/aviation-histo...80-1985-a.html
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Old 20th Oct 2016, 15:25
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thats not a CVR/FDR tape, looks like VHS to me.
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Old 20th Oct 2016, 15:40
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Thanks Aibubba. The location of the crash site speaks a lot louder to a navigation error, resulting in CFIT rather than the narcs, or such.
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