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Encyclopedia > ValuJet Flight 592
ValuJet Airlines Flight 592
Summary
Date   May 11, 1996
Type   Inflight fire
Site   Florida Everglades
Fatalities   110
Injuries   0
Aircraft
Aircraft type   McDonnell Douglas DC-9
Operator   ValuJet Airlines
Tail number   N904VJ
Passengers   105
Crew   5
Survivors   0

ValuJet Flight 592 was a flight that crashed on May 11, 1996 en route from Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida to Hartsfield International Airport (now known as Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport) in Atlanta, Georgia. The crash destroyed the credibility of the low-cost carrier ValuJet Airlines. May 11 is the 131st day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (132nd in leap years). ... 1996 (MCMXCVI) was a leap year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty. ... May 11 is the 131st day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (132nd in leap years). ... 1996 (MCMXCVI) was a leap year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty. ... Miami International Airport (IATA: MIA, ICAO: KMIA), is a major airport located in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, Florida between the cities of Hialeah, Doral, and Miami Springs, the village of Virginia Gardens, and the unincorporated community of Fountainbleau. ... Nickname: The Magic City, Location in Miami-Dade County and the state of Florida. ... Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (IATA: ATL, ICAO: KATL) is located in the Atlanta, Georgia, USA metropolitan area, and is the busiest airport in the world, with Chicagos OHare as a rival. ... Nickname: Hotlanta, The Big Peach, The ATL, A-Town Location in Fulton County in the state of Georgia Coordinates: Country United States State Georgia Counties Fulton, Dekalb Mayor Shirley Franklin (D) Area    - City 343. ... Boeing 737-700 of UK low cost carrier easyJet waiting for take off at Bristol A low-cost carrier or low cost airline (also known as a no-frills or discount carrier / airline) is an airline that offers generally low fares in exchange for eliminating many traditional passenger services. ... The ValueJet logo included a happy, smiling jet plane nicknamed Critter. Critter was also the official air traffic control radio designation for ValuJet flights. ...

Contents

Accident

The 27 year old DC-9 aircraft on this route, N904VJ, previously owned by Delta Air Lines, took off after a delay of 1 hour and 4 minutes at 2:04 pm and began a normal climb, however at 2:10 p.m. asked air traffic control for a return to Miami due to smoke in the cockpit and cabin. Captain Candi Kubeck and First Officer Richard Hazen were given instructions for a return to the airport. Seconds later, shouts of "fire, fire, fire, fire" were recorded on the plane's cockpit voice recorder coming from the cabin. A flight attendant opened the cockpit door and informed the flight crew that the cabin was on fire, even though the ValuJet flight attendant manual stated that the cockpit door should not be opened when smoke or other harmful gases may be present in the cabin. The plane's interior was completely on fire. The McDonnell Douglas DC-9 (initially known as the Douglas DC-9) is a family of twin-engine, single-aisle jet airliners, first manufactured in 1965 and subsequently, in greatly modified form, under a succession of different names. ... Air Traffic Control Towers (ATCTs) at Schiphol Airport Air traffic control (ATC) is a service provided by ground-based controllers who direct aircraft on the ground and in the air. ... A cockpit was a pit used for cockfighting, where owners would pit fighting birds against each other for the purpose of gambling. ... Candi Kubeck (May 10, 1961 – May 11, 1996) was the Captain of ValuJet Flight 592 which crashed May 11th, 1996 in the Everglades. ...


Flight 592 disappeared from radar at 2:14 p.m. It crashed in Browns Farm Wildlife Management area in the Everglades, a few miles west of Miami. Kubeck, Hazen, the three flight attendants and all 105 passengers aboard were killed. Recovery of the aircraft and victims was made extremely difficult by the location of the crash. The nearest road of any kind was more than a quarter of a mile (401 m) away from the crash scene, and the location of the crash itself was summarized as deep-water swamp with a bedrock base. The DC-9 shattered on impact with the bedrock, leaving very few large portions of the plane intact. Sawgrass, alligators, and risk of bacterial infection from cuts plagued searchers involved in the recovery effort. Passengers killed included San Diego Chargers running back Rodney Culver, former University of Miami offensive lineman Robert Woodus, and renowned bluegrass musician Walter Hyatt. This long range RADAR antenna, known as ALTAIR, is used to detect and track space objects in conjunction with ABM testing at the Ronald Reagan Test Site on the Kwajalein atoll[1]. RADAR is a system that uses radio waves to detect, determine the direction and distance and/or speed... An Anhinga perched on the boardwalk railing Everglades is also the name of a city in Collier County, Florida. ... Bedrock is the native consolidated rock underlying the Earths surface. ... Species See text. ... Species Alligator mississippiensis Alligator sinensis An alligator is a crocodilian in the genus Alligator of the family Alligatoridae. ... Phyla/Divisions Actinobacteria Aquificae Bacteroidetes/Chlorobi Chlamydiae/Verrucomicrobia Chloroflexi Chrysiogenetes Cyanobacteria Deferribacteres Deinococcus-Thermus Dictyoglomi Fibrobacteres/Acidobacteria Firmicutes Fusobacteria Gemmatimonadetes Nitrospirae Omnibacteria Planctomycetes Proteobacteria Spirochaetes Thermodesulfobacteria Thermomicrobia Thermotogae Bacteria (singular, bacterium) are a major group of living organisms. ... An infection is the detrimental colonization of a host organism by a foreign species. ... City San Diego, California Other nicknames Bolts, Super Chargers Team colors Navy Blue, White, and Gold Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer Owner Alex Spanos George Pernicano (Minority owner (3%)) General manager A.J. Smith Fight song San Diego Super Chargers League/Conference affiliations American Football League (1960-1969) Western Division (1960... High school running back A running back, halfback or tailback is the position of a player on an American and Canadian football team who lines up in the offensive backfield. ... Rodney Culver (December 23, 1969 - May 11, 1996) was a Professional Football Player. ... The University of Miami, sometimes called UM or The U, is a private university, founded in 1925, with its main campus in the city of Coral Gables in metropolitan Miami, Florida, in the United States. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into American football positions. ... Bluegrass music is considered a form of American roots music with its own roots in English, Irish and Scottish traditional music. ...


Investigation

The NTSB investigation eventually determined that the source of the fire that downed Flight 592 was a cargo compartment below the passenger portion of the plane. The cargo compartment's fire suppression amounted to a no-air recycling environment, so a standard fire would have simply run out of air and burned itself out. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is a U.S. government organization responsible for investigation of accidents involving aviation, highway, marine, pipelines and railroads in the United States. ... Cargo is a term used to denote goods or produce being transported generally for commercial gain, usually on a ship, plane, train or truck. ...


It was determined that the fire was caused by the firing of expired chemical oxygen generators placed in the cargo compartment in five boxes marked COMAT (company-owned material) by ValuJet's maintenance contractor, SabreTech. The generators should not have been shipped in this manner in the first place, since they were hazardous materials. Making the matter worse was the fact that the firing pins for the generators were not properly protected with plastic sleeves to prevent an unintended firing of the generator, and that the canisters were not empty as had been indicated on the cargo manifest. A chemical oxygen generator is a device that releases oxygen created by a chemical reaction. ... A hazardous material (HAZMAT) is any solid, liquid, or gas that can cause harm to humans, other living organisms, or the environment due to being radioactive, flammable, explosive, toxic, corrosive, a biohazard, an oxidizer, an asphyxiant, or capable of causing severe allergic reactions. ... The firing pin is a very hard steel rod with a one small, rounded end for striking the primer of a cartridge. ...


Chemical oxygen generators, when fired, produce oxygen. As a byproduct of the chemical reaction, they also produce a great quantity of heat. These two together were sufficient to not only start an accidental fire, but also produce the oxygen to keep the fire burning at an extremely high temperature, made much worse by the presence of readily combustible aircraft wheels in the hold. When the plane experienced a slight jolt while taxiing on the runway, an oxygen canister fired and started to produce oxygen and heat of more than 500° F (260° C). The oxygen from the generators fueled the resulting fire in the cargo hold of the plane. ValuJet was blamed for improper oversight of SabreTech and the FAA was faulted for failing to properly monitor ValuJet. A pop and jolt traced in the air traffic control tape was attributed to a semi-inflated aircraft wheel exploding in the high temperature fire. Two main tires and wheels, a nose tire and wheel was also included in the COMAT. General Name, Symbol, Number oxygen, O, 8 Chemical series Nonmetals, chalcogens Group, Period, Block 16, 2, p Appearance colorless (gas) very pale blue (liquid) Atomic mass 15. ...


The cylindrical, tennis ball can-sized generators were loaded on board in the mistaken belief that their manufacturers, SabreTech, had carried out proper procedures for dealing with unfired canisters (the company workers claimed that the canisters were either "empty" or they had been dealt with properly, when in fact more than half of them were full and not correctly made safe). Had that been the case, the canisters would have posed no serious threat.


It is believed that even with the generators in the cargo hold, the plane could have been saved. In 1988 American Airlines Flight 132 a MD-80 suffered from a similar accident. A cargo hold fire caused by hazardous materials started, but fortunately the aircraft landed safely. After this incident, the NTSB recommended to the FAA that all class D cargo holds have smoke detectors and/or fire suppression systems. However, it was never mandated.


If there had been smoke detectors, the crew would have seen warnings that there was a fire and evacuated the plane, thus aborting the take-off. If there had been a fire-supression system, the fire would have been extinguished and the flight would have continued without incident. It wasn't until 2001 that suppression systems and smoke detectors have been mandated in all class D holds.


Culpability

The NTSB placed fault for ValuJet Flight 592 on three parties: SabreTech, for illegally transporting dangerous materials aboard a commercial aircraft, improperly labeling them, and not providing safety equipment to ship them; ValuJet, for not properly supervising SabreTech; and the FAA, for not properly supervising ValuJet and not requiring active fire suppression equipment in this cargo compartment. FAA redirects here. ...


In 1997, a federal grand jury charged SabreTech with mishandling hazardous materials, failing to train its employees on proper handling of hazardous materials, criminal conspiracy and making false statements. SabreTech's maintenance supervisor, Daniel Gonzalez, and two mechanics who worked on the plane, Eugene Florence and Mauro Valenzuela, were charged with conspiracy and making false statements. In 1999, SabreTech was found guilty of mishandling hazardous materials and improper training. It was fined $2 million and ordered to pay $9 million in restitution. Gonzalez and Florence were acquitted on all charges; Valenzuela failed to appear, and is currently missing. This verdict was largely thrown out by the United States 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2001. It found that federal law at the time of the crash did not support a conviction for mishandling hazardous materials and added that SabreTech had no intention to cause any harm. However, it did uphold the conviction for improper training, and SabreTech was later sentenced to a $500,000 fine, three years' probation and no restitution. Just before the federal trial, a Florida grand jury indicted SabreTech on 110 counts of manslaughter and 110 counts of third-degree murder; one for each person who died in the crash. However, in 2001 SabreTech settled the charges out of court. It pleaded no contest to a state charge of mishandling hazardous waste and agreed to donate $500,000 to an aviation safety group and a Miami-Dade County charity. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the following United States district courts: Northern, Middle, and Southern Districts of Alabama Northern, Middle, and Southern Districts of Florida Northern, Middle, and Southern Districts of Georgia These districts were originally part... In both criminal and civil trials in the United States, a plea of nolo contendere means that the defendant neither admits nor disputes the charge. ... County slogan: Delivering Excellence Every Day Location of county in the state of Florida County Seat Miami, Florida Area  - Total  - Water 6,297 km² (2,431 mi²) 1,257 km² (485 mi²) 19. ...


SabreTech was the first American aviation company to be criminally prosecuted for its role in an American airline crash. The company, a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Sabreliner Corporation, went out of business in 1999. Nickname: Gateway City, Gateway to the West, or Mound City Location in the state of Missouri Coordinates: Country United States State Missouri County Independent City Mayor Francis G. Slay (D) Area    - City 66. ...


ValuJet was grounded by the FAA on June 16, 1996. It was allowed to resume flying again on September 30, but never recovered from the crash. In 1997, it merged with AirTran. Although ValuJet was the nominal survivor, the ValuJet name was so tarnished by this time that it decided to take the AirTran name. It mentions almost nothing of its past as ValuJet. June 16 is the 167th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (168th in leap years), with 198 days remaining. ... September 30 is the 273rd day of the year (274th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... AirTran Airways (formerly known as Valujet) is a low-cost airline based in the United States. ...


Many families of the Flight 592 victims were outraged that ValuJet/AirTran was not prosecuted, given ValuJet's poor safety record. ValuJet had a higher accident rate than the 10 largest airlines, leading the FAA to take the unprecedented step of barring it from buying more planes or adding more cities without permission. The agency had seriously considered grounding the airline. The victims' families also point to statements made by ValuJet officials immediately after the crash that appeared to indicate ValuJet knew the generators were on the plane, and in fact had ordered them returned to Atlanta rather than properly disposed.[1]


Everglades Memorial

A memorial to the victims located in the Everglades was dedicated in 1999 on the third anniversary of the accident. The memorial, consisting of 110 concrete pillars, is located just north of Tamiami Trail about 11 miles west of Krome Avenue in Miami-Dade County and points to the location of the actual crash site eight miles to the north. An Anhinga perched on the boardwalk railing Everglades is also the name of a city in Collier County, Florida. ... Alligators are a common sight along the scenic Tamiami Trail from Miami to Naples. ... State Road 997, also known as Krome Avenue (West 177th Avenue in Miamis street grid), is a 36. ... County slogan: Delivering Excellence Every Day Location of county in the state of Florida County Seat Miami, Florida Area  - Total  - Water 6,297 km² (2,431 mi²) 1,257 km² (485 mi²) 19. ...


Within days of the crash of Flight 592, the song "Deep Down In the Everglades" was written by Rod MacDonald and performed in a small workshop at the Florida Folk Festival. The emcee, Dale Crider, was so moved that he invited MacDonald to sing it with him that evening on the main stage. The song was released on MacDonald’s 1999 CD “Into the Blue” (Gadfly Records/US, Brambus Records/Switzerland). Read lyrics


See also

Citing the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, an aviation accident is defined as an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft which takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight and all such persons have disembarked, and in which any person...

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