The Fall Of Flight 261

A crash raises questions about an airline already being investigated for its maintenance practices

The crew of Alaska Airlines Flight 261 had a final, desperate plan to save the 88 lives on board. The plane seemed to be plummeting because a key mechanism had jammed in a position that was forcing its nose down. The crew radioed a company mechanic on the ground with an urgent plea: Were there any "hidden circuit breakers" that could cut off power to the horizontal stabilizer--the device they believed had taken deadly control of the plane? No, the mechanic replied, he didn't know of any. But as the plane temporarily stabilized, he signed off on an optimistic note: "See...

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