The Crash Detectives

The experts trying to solve the T.W.A. disaster are haunted by the mystery of USAir Flight 427. That plane crashed outside Pittsburgh in 1994, killing everyone on board, and leaving the investigators to determine how an aircraft could just suddenly drop out of the clear sky.

  1. On the evening of Wednesday, September 7, 1994, a Boeing 737 jetliner owned by USAir arrived at Bradley International Airport, just out- side Hartford, Connecticut, on a regularly scheduled flight. Before its departure early the next morning, for Syracuse, it underwent a transit check—a routine maintenance inspection that occurs every seven days or thirty-five flight hours, whichever comes first, on all commercial 737 jetliners in the United States.

    This particular plane, a 737-300 registered as N513AU, was one of two hundred and thirty 737s operated by USAir. Boeing had manufactured it in October, 1987, and USAir had then bought it for approximately thirty million dollars. During the previous seven years, it had logged nearly twenty-four thousand hours of flight time and more than fourteen thousand cycles, the term the industry applies to each takeoff and landing. As commercial airliners go, it was a relatively young plane. With regular maintenance, it could be expected to provide ...

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