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Design Saving Lives

Design Saving Lives

Design is used everywhere. If it’s subtle enough that you don’t notice, then it’s done its job. But when design isn’t employed in some of the most basic forms, it can have disasterous effects.

Air Crash Investigation recently broadcasted an episode about the second-deadliest plane crash in US history – The 1988 Northwest Airlines Flight 255.

Flight 255 took off at approximately 8:45PM EDT with Capt. Maus at the controls. The plane lifted off the runway and soon began to roll from side to side at a height just under 50 feet . The plane went into a stall and rolled 40 degrees to the left when it struck a light pole near the end of the runway, severing 18 feet of its left wing and igniting jet fuel stored in the wing. It then rolled 90 degrees to the right, its right wing tearing through the roof of a rental car building. The plane, now uncontrolled, crashed. It broke apart and burst into flames as it hit an overpass. Out of the 156 crew and passengers, there was one lone survivor: a four year old girl.

TheĀ NTSB released a statement about the probable cause: “The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the flight crew’s failure to use the taxi checklist to ensure the flaps and slats were extended for takeoff…”

With constant interruptions from the control tower, the crew kept losing their place on the long takeoff checklist. As a result, they failed to check some of the key checklist items, such as the flaps and slats extension. It was determined that a new checklist should be designed, one that was easy to read, with a more legible font. Who thought mundane forms could be such important life savers!!

You can download and watch the episode here.

Yours in design,

Tanya Heading About the author
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