RUNWAY by John Godson


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In Unsafe at Any Height (1971) Godson marshaled a truly unsettling collection of air disasters due to errors that could but are not being corrected. Here he reinforces his argument that the air lines and aviation agencies are not doing their best for passenger safety, concentrating on a 1970 crash of a Douglas DC-8-63 in Anchorage, Alaska in which 47 people died. After reviewing the chronology of the aborted take-off (with witness interviews), Godson reports on the ensuing investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. ""What went wrong"" was the locking of all eight wheels, a condition undetected by the crew as the craft coasted on the ice, with back pressure building up. But what about the seat belts that didn't hold, the seats ripped off their mounts, lack of passenger space, emergency lighting that failed and, worst of all, emergency doors that didn't open? Godson castigates air line front offices for these and other derelictions including the use of cheap combustible interior fittings and the use of highly flammable fuel. Safety, Godson agrees, costs money -- so does advertising. It's time airlines gave more weight to the former. A convincing, chilling report -- for train and bus reading.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1973
Publisher: Scribners