United Airlines Flight 232 - Impossible Landing

Today is the anniversary of the Impossible Landing; United Airlines Flight 232.

United Airlines Flight 232 was a DC-10, registered as N1819U, that crash-landed at Sioux City, Iowa in July 19, 1989 after suffering catastrophic failure of its tail-mounted engine, which led to the loss of all flight controls. The flight was en route from Stapleton International Airport in Denver, Colorado to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Of the 296 passengers and crew on board, 111 died in the accident and 185 survived in total.

You can find more information here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Airlines_Flight_232

You can also read the FAA report: https://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/maintenance_hf/library/documents/media/human_factors_maintenance/united_airlines_flight_232.mcdonnell_douglas_dc-10-10.sioux_gateway_airport.sioux_city.lowa.july_19.1989.pdf

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Could you please add a little more detail? Your opinion or view on the incident? What happened? Anyone can post a link

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Umm, right - I already knew this…

Maybe a video or a link on it?’

EDIT: I checked the edit history on the post and you said that today was the day it crashed (like its anniversary)

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Yeah sorry for that i am currently editing it.

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28 years. To think it’s been 28 years and we still do not have an effective method to save a plane if it looses all Hydraulics. This is the most deadliest thing in aviation and only one aircraft has ever successfully landed with no hydraulics. I honestly would like to see the FAA implement a way to prevent United 232, JAL 123 and OODLL ever being repeated. What makes it disgusting is that there already is a way for a plane to land with no hydraulics. Just you watch, 200+ people will die from a hydraulic failure before 2020 unless the FAA implements ways to save aircraft

And those asking for a video, here is the best:

And to rap things up for those who don’t wanna watch the video, it was caused by a failure in Engine 2 due to a microscopic imperfection in the titanium used to make the engines fan disc. The crack grew over 17 years before disintegrating and severing all three hydraulic issues. The four pilots returned to flying eventually but Denny Fitch died of brain cancer in 2012. 111 of the 296 people were killed meaning that despite the how horrific the crash was most people survived.

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This is so true and this is what I am concerned about in aviation. Aviation experts need to invent a way that if a plane losers all hydraulics there will still be some back up to move the flight controls

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I remember watching this air investigation on YouTube awhile back, definitely one of the more interesting ones. Here is the link to anyone who is interested:

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I’m not 100% sure that this applies to the heavies. In a 172 if you ever lose your elevator, use the trim wheel. This is because the trim controls and trim tab on the elevator. I know that the C172 doesn’t use hydraulics.

Unfortunately when the rear engine catastrophically failed so did the hydraulics for control of the plane.

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Trim on big planes is hydraulic so nope sorry mate doesn’t work

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I saw the ACI as well, but actually on TV lol


It was a very sad incident. Very sad on how much children died. May god be with them now.

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Can not believe that this happened that long ago

This incident is especially tough for my grandparents who had friends on that flight that didn’t make it out alive 😥

Even though the anniversary was a week ago I still thought it was necessary to say that things like this happen every day, even if it doesn’t involve aviation.

R.I.P to all that perished on that horrific day, and I hope that all who died are living in heaven

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An aircraft can survive a full on hydraulic faliure, its impossible. Aviation experts need to find a solution maybe a backup system if hydraulics fail, maybe they could use electricity to send waves of electrical power to move controls or put the gear down.
More and more fatalities will happen because ovee time accidents like these happen, this aircraft took 17 years for its hydraulics to malfuction because of a crack so minor. Although rare things like this can happen and people will die because of it, we need to find out a backup system if all else fails. Electricity is just an idea to prevent casualties.

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Atleast Airbus has a hydraulics system that if 2 out of 3 hydraulics fail, you’ll still be able to control the aircraft because all 3 hydraulics have the flight controls. Which is of course a good thing.

@AllegiantAir I’m very sorry to hear that. I hope your grandparents feel better now 😕

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They do, we just don’t really talk about it around them

The famous United Airlines Flight 232! After this crash ,if I remember correctly, NASA started doing research for a solution to land an aircraft without Flight Controls. It was called Propulsion Controlled Aircraft or PCA. Gordon Fullerton ,a pilot tester, tested this software on a DC10 and on MD11, it proved very successful. In fact the software was so successful and that aircraft manufactures were thinking to implement it in future airplanes design according to NASA.

So how does it work

If a pilot would like to pitch or roll, PCA would of been integrated with the flight management computer, and the pilot would enter what it’ll like the aircraft to do. Propulsion Controlled Aircraft software worked by using engine trust instead of hydraulics to move to aircraft on two plans (pitch and roll). So if the pilot wanted to turn left, he would enter his command and the software would tell the autopilot to increases the trust on the left engine while decreasing the trust of the right side and vice versa to turn left. If the pilot wanted to turn up, he would enter the command and the software would use the autopilot to increases trust on both engines and to descend it’ll reduce trust. It was a very simple concept but unlike humans the software was capable to precisely calculate to amount of trust needed to be reduce or increase to make the right movement

Many of you might ask how come not many people have heard of it. After NASA conducted it’s research, the FAA conducted some test on the PCA software. It later abandoned the research because they found the risk of loosing all hydraulics is too low to make systems like PCA worthwhile. If the FAA chose to implement this feature it could of make the lives of the pilot onboard the 2003 Baghdad DHL much more reassuring when all hydraulics failed.

A notable person who was very intrigue with this project is Captain Denny Fitch who was involved with this particular accident.

Video of the PCA system

Notable links and sources




https://www.google.com/patents/US7711455

This technology could of saved so many lives if it was available sooner and if the FAA had implemented it .

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Yeah and Guess what the FAA has said it’s too unlikely for it to happen, despite the second worst aviation disaster being a hydraulic failure…

The prime issue was that all three hydraulic systems shared common pipe routing and manifolds in the area around the rear of the aircraft under the tail engine.

When the HP turbine let go it unfortunately severed all 3 systems.

The follow up was to ensure that all critical systems are never routed through a common area where such an event could take place.

All DC-10’s were modified with re-routed hydraulics.

I flew an A320 in the Sim with total hydraulics failure, it was difficult but we got it on the ground at Berlin in one piece. Excellent bit of piloting and teamwork by very experienced pilots in a very testing situation.

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