Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Alaska Airlines Flight 261
Alaska Airlines Flight 261 was a flight route that flew between Puerto Vallarta in Mexico, San Francisco International Airport, and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. On January 31, 2000, the Alaska Airlines flight crashed into the Pacific Ocean, killing all on board.
The flight crashed about twenty miles (thirty-two kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California. The aircraft was trying to divert to that airport. The last radio contact came while the plane was passing 17,000 feet at a low speed of 119 knots. The plane then rapidly descended from 17,000 feet. All 83 passengers and five crew members perished after the MD-83 (N963AS) crashed into the water off the coast of Point Mugu, California.
A report by the National Transportation Safety Board attributed the crash to insufficient lubrication of the plane's tail fin component, known as the jackscrew , which caused the plane's stabilizer to break off during flight. It was also noted that the mechanism in that section also has no back up function in the event of mechanical failure. Apparently, the designers violated the safety concept because the standard maintainance schedule they outlined for the piece was considered sufficient.
After the crash, flight 261 was retired and replaced with flight 289.
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