Accident description
Last updated: 24 October 2014
Status:Final
Date:Friday 24 February 1989
Type:Boeing 747-122
Operator:United Air Lines
Registration: N4713U
C/n / msn: 19875/89
First flight: 1970-10-20 (18 years 4 months)
Total airframe hrs:58814
Cycles:15027
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 18
Passengers:Fatalities: 9 / Occupants: 337
Total:Fatalities: 9 / Occupants: 355
Airplane damage: Substantial
Airplane fate: Repaired
Location:Pacific Ocean (   Pacific Ocean) show on map
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Honolulu International Airport, HI (HNL/PHNL), United States of America
Destination airport:Auckland International Airport (AKL/NZAA), New Zealand
Flightnumber: 811
Narrative:
United Airlines flight 811 experienced an explosive decompression as it was climbing between 22,000 and 23,000 feet after taking off from Honolulu, Hawaii, en route to Auckland and Sydney. The airplane made a successful emergency landing at Honolulu and the occupants evacuated the airplane. Examination of the airplane revealed that the forward lower lobe cargo door had separated in flight and had caused extensive damage to the fuselage and cabin structure adjacent to the door. Nine of the passengers had been ejected from the airplane and lost at sea.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The sudden opening of the forward lower lobe cargo door in flight and the subsequent explosive decompression. The door opening was attributed to a faulty switch or wiring in the door control system which permitted electrical actuation of the door latches toward the unlatched position after initial door closure and before takeoff. Contributing to the cause of the accident was a deficiency in the design of the cargo door locking mechanisms, which made them susceptible to deformation, allowing the door to become unlatched after being properly latched and locked. Also contributing to the accident was a lack of timely corrective actions by Boeing and the FAA following a 1987 cargo door opening incident on a Pan Am B-747."

Classification:
Fuselage failure
Forced landing on runway

Sources:
» NTSB/AAR-92/02
» CVR transcript United Air Lines Flight 811 (Neil Krey's CRM Developers Forum)


Follow-up / safety actions

NTSB issued 17 Safety Recommendations

Show all AD's and Safety Recommendations

Photos

photo of Boeing 747-122 N4713U
photo of Boeing 747-122 N4713U
photo of Boeing 747-122 N4713U
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Map
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Honolulu International Airport, HI to Auckland International Airport as the crow flies is 7046 km (4404 miles).

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