Aviation: For Want of a Cable . ..

To be sure, there are all those nuts and bolts. But they are put in place by humans—and more often than not, it is "the human element'' that causes air disasters. Last week came a chilling example: the Civil Aeronautics Board, after a 14-month investigation, blamed flagrantly faulty ground maintenance work for the crash of a Northwest Airlines Electra at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

More than two months before the fatal crash, the Electra had been sent to Northwest's Minneapolis shops for routine maintenance. Two mechanics removed a key aileron control, partly...

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