Aloha Airlines Flight 243

April 28, 1988; Flight 243, a Boeing 737-200, departed from Hilo International Airport, at 13:25 HST, bound for Honolulu, with five crew members and 90 passengers on board.
After the 737 had reached its cruising altitude of 24,000 feet, at 13:48, approximately 23 nautical miles south-southeast of Kahului on the island of Maui, an explosive "whooshing” sound swept through the cabin, as a massive section on the left side of the 737’s roof ruptured, and departed the aircraft.

Captain Robert Schornstheimer, immediately felt the 737 oscillate to the left, and then right, then the controls went loose. Pieces of grey insulation floating in the cockpit caught the First Officers eye, as the Captain turned around in his seat to look back at his aircraft.

There was no longer a cockpit door, and instead of looking back at the first-class cabin ceiling, to his utter disbelief...the Captain was met with nothing but blue skies.
A massive section of aircraft roof approximately 18 feet in length had been torn away in a millisecond, leaving a gaping hole extending from just behind the cockpit to the fore-wing area.

Sadly, Clarabelle "C.B.” Lansing, 58-year-old veteran flight attendant of 37 years , was swept out of the airplane while standing near the fifth-row seats; her body was never found.

Eight other people suffered serious injuries., thankfully all passengers had been seated, and were wearing their seat belts when the depressurization occurred.

The crew immediately executed an emergency descent, and declared an emergency. The 737 was diverted to Kahluihi Airport where on short final, the left engine failed.
Thirteen minutes after the explosive decompression, Aloha Flight 243 touched down on Runway 2 at Kahluihi Airport. Upon rolling to a stop, the aircraft's emergency evacuation slides were deployed and passengers quickly evacuated.

The 737-200 aircraft was damaged beyond repair, dented horizontal stabilizers, vertical stabilizer, and leading edges of both wings and both engine cowlings all of which were extensively damaged by flying debris, had rendered the aircraft unsalvageable. The 737 was dismantled on site and written off.
The NTSB concluded in its final report on the accident:

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the failure of the Aloha Airlines maintenance program to detect the presence of significant disbonding and fatigue damage which ultimately led to failure of the lap joint at S-10L and the separation of the fuselage upper lobe. Contributing to the accident were the failure of Aloha Airlines management to supervise properly its maintenance force; the failure of the FAA to require Airworthiness Directive 87-21-08 inspection of all the lap joints proposed by Boeing Alert Service Bulletin SB 737-53A1039; and the lack of a complete terminating action (neither generated by Boeing nor required by the FAA) after the discovery of early production difficulties in the B-737 cold-bond lap joint, which resulted in low bond durability, corrosion, and premature fatigue cracking.


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