Shattered in Seconds: The crash of China Airlines flight 611

The cockpit of China Airlines flight 611 is recovered from the Taiwan Strait in 2002. (Aviation Safety Council)
A CGI image of B-1866 striking its tail on the runway in 1980. (Mayday)
The location of the doubler placed over the tail strike damage. (Aviation Safety Council)
B-18255, the aircraft involved in the accident, seen here in 2000. (Tommy Lo)
The route and crash site of flight 611. (Google + own work)
This still from Mayday season 7 episode 1 approximately captures the appearance of the breakup. I chose not to show the full animation because it includes further breakup of the forward section which did not actually occur.
The location of the debris field and actual flight path of flight 611. (Aviation Safety Council)
: Officials carry a piece of flight 611 on shore in Magong. (CBS News)
: A wing is retrieved from the sea by the specialized salvage platform. (Aviation Safety Council)
Color-coded diagram of the three main wreckage zones, and which parts of the plane were found within them. (Aviation Safety Council)
Flight 611’s cockpit, remarkably intact after its high-speed plunge, is pulled from the sea. (Aviation Safety Council)
The results of the ballistic trajectory study. (Aviation Safety Council)
A detailed overview of the relevant portion of item #640. (Aviation Safety Council)
Locations of the fatigue cracking on the edge of the doubler plate. (Aviation Safety Council)
The thin red line represents the extent of the crack along the edge of item #640. The thick red bars on the scale below show which portions of that crack were caused by metal fatigue. (Aviation Safety Council)
The actual entry in the major repair and overhaul record concerning the tail strike damage repair. (Aviation Safety Council)
In this photo of the skin underneath the doubler, you can still see the longitudinal scratches caused by the tail strike. (Aviation Safety Council)
The wreckage of the aft section was reconstructed on a frame. Item 640 is in the center foreground. (Aviation Safety Council)
The largest recovered section of the tail contained part of the vertical stabilizer and all of the right horizontal stabilizer. (Aviation Safety Council)
The fatigue cracking on item 640 vs. normal fatigue cracking. (Aviation Safety Council)
Pieces of the fuselage structure and cabin interior furnishings were found embedded in the tailplane, providing a window into the moment of the breakup. (Aviation Safety Council)
The aftermath of the structural failure aboard Aloha Airlines flight 243. (Honolulu Star-Advertiser)
The doubler involved in the accident, seen 6 months before the crash. The brown streaks emerging from the side of the doubler plate were indicative of cabin air leakage. (Aviation Safety Council)
Cleaning the bilge area during the corrosion inspection would have made it much easier to spot the crack incidentally. (Aviation Safety Council)
How another opportunity to inspect the bilge area was missed before the accident. (Aviation Safety Council)
Investigators examine the cockpit of flight 611 after it was hauled from the sea. (Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives)
Investigators survey the cockpit after it was taken to storage. (Sam Yeh)
Members of the press view the reconstructed fuselage of flight 611. (Sam Yeh)



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Admiral Cloudberg

Admiral Cloudberg


Analyzer of plane crashes and author of upcoming book (eventually™). Contact me via @Admiral_Cloudberg on Reddit or by email at