Analysis of the Eastern Airlines Flight 401, Everglades, Florida

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Analysisof the Eastern Airlines Flight 401, Everglades, Florida

The Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 crash was caused by some of thedecisions that the crew made before and during the flight. Forinstance, the mismatched autopilot planes and the improper wiring ofthe altitude hold function are just some of the reasons that resultedin the plane crash. This paper will illustrate how the Eastern AirLines Flight 401 crash was caused by the ineffective decision makingand the insufficient situational awareness that led to the crewmaking judgment errors causing the unexpected descent of the plane.

Before the plane took off, the crew and the engineers had made someineffective decision-making that resulted in multiple errors. In thiscase, some of the errors affected the flight, and that made itimpossible for the crew to control the plane. More specifically, thepilot and the crew made some judgment errors that affected the lastmoments that could have saved the plane from the unexpected descent.For instance, the pilot had wired the autopilot indicator lightsinappropriately, and that led to the altitude hold function stayingon (Tuccio, 2011). The fact that the lights were on, even misled thepilot and the crew into believing that the autopilot was on holdyet, the plane was falling. The lights resulted in the judgmenterrors that led to the unexpected descent in the plane instead. Mr.Johnson made another ineffective decision-making when he did notidentify any danger with the plane flying at 900 foot on the radarscreen. However, he did not report the low altitude that the planewas flying at (Tuccio, 2011). Instead, he wanted to monitor a patternbefore reporting that one of the planes was flying at a very lowpoint. Mr. Johnson was reluctant in making the decision, andcommunicating to the pilot of the plane about the situation. Perhaps,notifying the pilot would have made them initiate another approach tosave the plane from crashing.

The crew also made ineffective situational awareness that led to theaccident since they were irresponsible before and during the flight.For instance, the pilots were inattentive in the pre-flight check-up.More specifically, the plane ended up having the mismatched twoautopilot computers that controlled the up and down altitude of theplane. One of them was a model 1-7 while another ended up being amodel 1-8, which was wrong since they were supposed to be the samemodel. The mismatch meant that one needed 15 pounds of pressure whilethe other one required 20 pounds (Tuccio, 2011). At the time of theaccident, the pilots thought that the auto-pilot system wascontrolling the plane yet, the differences between the two computersled to its fall. Ineffective situational awareness also made thepilots ignore some of the flight instruments that warned the crew. Inthe process, they were distracted, and they could not detect theunexpected crash (Tuccio, 2011). Perhaps, focusing on all the flightinstruments and monitoring the warning would have cautioned them ofthe sudden descent. However, the ineffective situational awarenessblinded the crew from the real circumstances. Lastly, identifyingsuch issues would have been helpful in preventing the accident in theend.

In conclusion, the Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 crash was a result ofineffective situational awareness and the poor decision making thatled to some errors and the unexpected descent of the plane. In thiscase, the poor decision making resulted in the mismatched autopilotcomputers that also led in the plane crash. On the other hand, theineffective situational awareness led to the crew ignoring thewarnings on the flight instruments and that reduced the chances ofthe plane being safe. All in all, the judgment errors resulted in themechanical problems that the plane encountered. The effective socialawareness would have considered the plane flying with the twoautopilot computers that were similar and did not create anyimbalance.


Tuccio, W. A. (2011). Heuristics to improve human factors performancein aviation. Journal of Aviation/Aerospace Education &ampResearch, 20(3).

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