April 28, 1988
Pacific Ocean
Aloha, Flight 243
Boeing B-737-297

The aircraft suffered separation of the top of the fuselage resulting in explosive decompression and severe structural damage. A flight attendant was sucked out of the opening in the fuselage and her body never recovered. The plane landed safely. Failure of Aloha Airlines' maintenance program to detect the presence of disbonding and fatigue damage which led to failure of the lap joint at S-10L and the separation of the fuselage upper lobe. Contributing factors were the failure of Aloha Airlines management to properly supervise its maintenance crew as well as the failure of the FAA to properly evaluate the Aloha Airlines maintenance program and to assess the airline's inspection and quality control deficiencies. 

Cabin: [Sound of screams, sound of wind noise]

The CVR microphones in the cockpit could not pick up any crew conversation for the next five minutes. However, the CVR recorded the crew’s transmissions with the ground control through the crew’s oxygen mask microphones.

Co-pilot: Center, Alhoa two forty three. We’re going down…..request lower [altitude]. Center, Alhoa forty three, Center, Alhoa forty three. Maui Approach, Aloha two forty three. Maui Tower, Alhoa two forty three. Maui tower, Alhoa two forty three. We’re inbound for a landing. Maui Tower, Alhoa two forty three.

Tower: [Flight] Callin’ Tower say again.

Co-pilot: Maui tower, Aloha two forty three, we’re inbound for landing. We’re just, ah, west of Makena, descending out of thirteen, and we have rapid depr - we are unpressurised. Declaring an emergency…

Tower: Aloha two forty three, winds zero four zero at one five. Altimeter two niner niner niner. Just to verify again. You’re breaking up. Your call sign is two forty - four? Is that correct. Or two forty three?

Here the crew, having reached 11,000 feet takes off its oxygen masks.

Co-pilot: two forty three Aloha - forty three.

Tower: Two forty - two the equipment is on the the roll. Plan straight thousand [ 11,000] feet. Request clearance into Maui for landing. Request the  equipment.

Tower: Okay, the equipment is on the field…Is on the way. Squawk zero three four three, can you come up on [frequency] one niner one niner point five?

Co- pilot: Two forty three. Can you hear us on one nineteen five two, forty three? Maui Tower, two forty three. It looks like we’ve lost a door. We have a hole in this, ah, left side of the aircraft.

Jumpseat Passenger: I’m fine.

Co-pilot to Captain: Want the [landing] gear?

Captain: No.

Co- pilot: Want the [landing gear]?

Captain: No.

Co-pilot: Do you want it [the gear] down?.

Captain: Flaps fifteen [for] landing.

Co-pilot: Okay.

Captain: Here we go. We’ve picked up some of your airplane business right there. I think they can hear you. They can’t hear me. Ah, tell him, ah, we’ll need assistance to evacuate this airplane.

Co-pilot: Right.

Captain: We really can’t communicate with the flight attendants, but we’ll need trucks, and we’ll need, ah, airstairs from Alhoa.

Co-pilot: All right. [To tower] Maui Tower, two forty three, can you hear me on tower?

Tower: Alhoa two forty three, I hear you loud and clear. Go ahead.

Co-pilot: Ah, we’re gonna need assistance. We cannot communicate with the flight attendants. Ah, we’ll need assistance for the passengers when we land.

Tower: Okay, I understand you’re gonna need an ambulance. Is that correct?

Co-pilot: Affirmative.

Captain to co-pilot: It feels like manual reversion.

Co-pilot: What?

Captain to Co-pilot: Flight controls feel like manual reversion [like the autopilot has switched off].

Co-pilot: Can we maintain altitude ok?

Captain: Let’s try flying…let’s try flying with the gear down here.

Co-pilot: All right you got it.

Cockpit: [Sound of landing gear being lowered]

Tower: Alhoa two forty three, can you give me your souls on board and your fuel on board?

Captain to co-pilot: Do you have a passenger count for tower?

Co-pilot to Tower: We, ah - eighty five, eight six, plus five crew members.

Tower: Okay. And, ah, just to verify. You broke up initially. You do need an ambulance. Is that correct?

Co-pilot: Affirmative.

Tower: Roger. How many do you think are injured?

Co-pilot: We have no idea. We cannot communicate with our flight attendant.

Tower: Okay. We’ll have an ambulance on the way.

Tower: Alhoa two forty three, wind zero five. The [emergency] equipment is in place.

Co-pilot: Okay, be advised. We have no nose gear. We are landing without nose gear.

Tower: Okay if you need any other assistance, advise…

Co-pilot: We’ll need all the [emergency] equipment you’ve got. [To Captain] Is it easier to control with the flaps up?

Captain: Yeah put em’ at five. Can you give me a vee speed for a flaps five landing?

Co-pilot: Do you want the flaps down as we land?

Captain: Yeah after we touch down

Co-pilot: Okay.

Tower: Alhoa two forty three, just for your information. The gear appears down. Gear appears down.

Co-pilot to Captain: Want me to go flaps forty…?

Captain: No.

Co-pilot: Okay.

Cockpit: [Sound of touchdown on runway]

Co-pilot: Thrust reverser.

Captain: Okay. Okay. Shut it down.

Co-pilot: Shut it down.

Captain: Now left engine.

Co-pilot: Flaps.

Tower: Alhoa two forty three, just shut her down where you are. Everything [is] fine. The gear did…The fire trucks are on the way.

Captain: Okay

Cockpit: [Sound of engines winding down]

Captain: Okay, start the call for the emergency evacuation.


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