Air Safety: A Bump in the Sky

Did wake vortex contribute to the crash of USAir Flight 427?

When USAir Flight 427 plunged from the sky on Sept. 8, none of the 127 passengers or five crew members survived to help explain what might have triggered the 6,000-ft. nose dive. Nor have investigators found evidence of wing, rudder or engine failure in the charred rubble of the 737 jet. That leaves little to explain the tragedy except a "bump" -- a sudden airspeed increase detected by the plane's flight-data recorder. Wind has been ruled out, since only a 7-m.p.h. breeze was evident that evening. And earlier reports of the cry "Traffic!" on the cockpit voice recorder have proved false....

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