• U.S.

A Cargo Plane’s Descent into Hell

1 minute read

LIKE MOST TRAGEDIES, THE CRASH OF AN EL AL 747-200F cargo jet last week came without warning. Six minutes after taking off from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport bound for Tel Aviv, the pilot reported a fire in a right-wing engine. Seconds later another engine failed and the freighter hurtled into a 10-story apartment building just 10 miles from the airport. As rescue workers uncovered the remains of 51 victims on the ground — many others were incinerated and will never be found — investigators searched for an explanation. El Al says an engine fire on the same plane last July was unrelated to the disaster. But recurring problems with microscopic cracks on the “fuse pins” that connect engines to the wings of Boeing jumbo jets are a possible culprit. As yet, there is no evidence linking fuse pins and the crash. But a similar crash in China last December led to a Federal Aviation Administration directive requiring fuse-pin inspection on early-model 747s. (See related story on page 50.)

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