Beyond the Black Box: The Forensics of Airplane Crashes

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Overview

The black box is orange—and there are actually two of them. They house the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder, instruments vital to airplane crash analyses.

But accident investigators cannot rely on the black boxes alone. Beginning with the 1931 Fokker F-10A crash that killed legendary football coach Knute Rockne, this fascinating book provides a behind-the-scenes look at plane wreck investigations. Professor George Bibel shows how forensic experts, scientists, and engineers analyze factors like impact, debris, loading, fire patterns, metallurgy, fracture, crash testing, and human tolerances to determine why planes fall from the sky—and how the information gleaned from accident reconstruction is incorporated into aircraft design and operation to keep commercial aviation as safe as possible.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

The author succeeds in both science and storytelling.

National Science Teachers Association
The author does a first-rate job... The easy-to-read and engaging manner of the writing makes this an interesting historical as well as scientific text.

— Charles K. Jervis

New Scientist
Bibel takes the reader, chattily and with skill, through his analysis of a series of fatal accidents.

— Paul Marks

New York Times
A fascinating book.

— Steven D. Levitt

Choice

The author succeeds in both science and storytelling.

NSTA Recommends
The easy-to-read and engaging manner of the writing makes this an interesting historical as well as scientific text.

— Charles K. Jervis

Air Safety Week

Beyond the Black Box provides a behind-the-scenes look at plane crash investigations.

Virginia Quarterly Review
Bibel takes responsibility for his readers' understanding... using similes based on everyday events and objects.

— Don Fry

Discover

Terrific book.

National Science Teachers Association - Charles K. Jervis

The easy-to-read and engaging manner of the writing makes this an interesting historical as well as scientific text.

New Scientist - Paul Marks

Bibel takes the reader, chattily and with skill, through his analysis of a series of fatal accidents.

New York Times - Steven D. Levitt

A fascinating book.

Virginia Quarterly Review - Don Fry

Bibel takes responsibility for his readers' understanding... using similes based on everyday events and objects.

Library Journal

An Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) advanced aircraft accident qualified investigator, Bibel (mechanical engineering, Univ. of North Dakota Sch. of Engineering and Mines) presents several case studies of airplane accidents, from the 1931 crash that killed football coach Knute Rockne to the 1996 explosion of TWA Flight 800 shortly after takeoff from New York's JFK airport. Offering insights into how aviation accident investigations are conducted, Bibel addresses the causes of such accidents, from in-flight breakup to metal fatigue and combustion, and the lessons learned. Enriched with many drawings, graphs, and equations, this is a good aeronautics text for a mechanical or safety perspective. The specific findings from many investigations demonstrate principles or applications from aerodynamics, physics, and engineering. While Bibel's book compares with Glenn Ellis's 1984 Air Crash Investigation of General Aviation Aircraft, it is more up-to-date, with post-1984 case studies and includes commercial airline accidents. This is highly recommended for academic libraries supporting aerodynamics, aviation, or engineering courses or as support for physics and criminal justice investigation classes; it should also be included in aeronautical and engineering industry libraries.
—Jim Agee

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801886317
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 408
  • Sales rank: 466,551
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

George Bibel, a former NASA summer faculty fellow, is a professor of mechanical engineering at the School of Engineering and Mines, University of North Dakota. He recently completed the Air Line Pilots Association Advanced Accident Investigation Course.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface     ix
The Crash Investigation Process     1
How Planes (Often) Crash     12
In-Flight Breakup     58
Pressure, Explosive Decompression, and Burst Balloons     87
Jet Propulsion, Burst Engines, and Reliability     168
Metal Fatigue: Bending 777s and Paper Clips     219
Combustion: Fire and Explosion     251
Crash Testing     292
Human Tolerances to G Loads and Crash Forces     336
Notes     365
References     375
Index     387
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