Aircraft Accidents and Working With Evidence

Accident investigations are a strange thing; they are the topic of choice at the beginning but soon diminish into trivial pursuits with no direction. They become victims of the truths real enemy: Time.
Over time people forget or their memories become hazy. The media becomes impatient for newness; they move onto other things. Eventually a new emergency rises up to take the spotlight and the tragedy that occupied everyone’s mind turns to yellowed newspaper copy.
I made a statement in Twitter today about an accident I worked; I said I doubted the results of the investigators’ findings. That’s not necessarily the fault of the investigators, but it does put the results into question.
American 587 crashed on November 12, 2001. The vertical stabilizer snapped off in flight causing the aircraft to become uncontrollable in a most violent manner. One of my jobs was to acquire an identical vertical stabilizer for testing and there was only one left; it came off an Airbus A300 with a composite tail somewhere in the Middle East. During shipment the test stab fell of the ship and floated in the water for several hours, enough to cause irrevocable seawater damage to the test stab. I never found out how the testing for the stabilizer was conducted, so when I stated that in Twitter it was because there were not many test stabs around, the results had to be less than accurate.
I guess we’ll never know.

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