Why Planes Crash: Breaking Point

Aloha Airlines 243…
United Flight 811…
Japan Airlines 123…
American Airlines 191…
All had one thing in common: a mechanical issue that pushed those planes to their BREAKING POINT, with deadly consequences. They were all doomed. This episode aired on MSNBC in 2015 and continues to air on The Weather Channel.

The Deadliest Single-Aircraft Accident in History

The wreckage of JAL 123

On August 12, 1985, Japan Airlines Flight 123 took off from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. The 747 was making a routine domestic run to Osaka. But 12 minutes into the flight something went terribly wrong: there was an explosive decompression. For the next half-hour, passengers basically endured a terrifying roller-coaster ride. Pilots had no way to control the plane. This was not going to end well.

The crash killed 520 of 524 souls on board. There are no words to describe this horror.

United Flight 811

The night flight from Los Angeles to Sydney was uneventful…until a cargo door suddenly blew out, sucking nine passengers out of the 747 in their seats. Amazingly, pilots managed to land the plane safely in Honolulu. The title Breaking Point refers to the fact that all of these doomed jets had a pre-existing problem that got worse every time they took off and landed until finally, they reached their breaking point, leading to disaster in the skies.

About the Series

Caroline Sommers conceived and created Why Planes Crash for MSNBC and The Weather Channel. She field- and post-produced this episode and several others, including Brace for Impact, Brush With Death, Crisis in the Sky and Collision Course.

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