Some Passengers Asking Not to Fly in DC-10s, Companies SayMARCY GORDON , Associated Press
Aug. 11, 1989 9:09 PM ET
NEW YORK (AP) _ A number of would-be passengers are asking not to be booked on flights using DC-10 jetliners, following two explosive engine failures within a month on the jumbo jet, several agents and carriers said Friday.
Since the July 19 crash of a United Airlines DC-10 in Sioux City, Iowa, which killed 111 people, about 400 customers have asked not to be booked on DC-10s, said Rob Doughty, a spokesman for United at its Chicago headquarters.
Doughty said the number compared with the total 150,000 passengers United carries daily.
The McDonnell Douglas-built aircraft is used by about 50 airlines worldwide.
There have been several other incidents involving DC-10s since the Sioux City crash, which followed an explosive engine failure.
In one of the latest incidents, a Northwest Airlines DC-10 made a safe emergency landing Thursday in Denver after a so-called ''uncontained engine failure'' in which flying parts punched holes in the housing of the airliner's tail-mounted engine.
U.S. majors American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Eastern Airlines, Northwest, Pan Am and United fly a total of 166 DC-10s, and about 300 more are flown by foreign carriers.
American, the nation's largest airline, flies 61 DC-10s, followed by United with 55 and Northwest with 20.
Northwest has worked with about 25 customers who have expressed concern about the aircraft, said Bob Gibbons, a Northwest spokesman in Eagan, Minn.
''It's not indicative of any kind of hysteria,'' he said. ''I think most people basically want to be reassured.''
As a matter of policy, Northwest will not allow changes of aircraft on discount tickets where any changes normally are prohibited, Gibbons said.
At United, nearly all fliers expressing aircraft preferences are accommodated, unless the only choice on a particular route is the DC-10, Doughty said. Even requests by passengers with discount-fare tickets - which usually prohibit changes in flight plans - are being granted, he said.
Nearly all the worried customers are vacationers and other leisure passengers, as opposed to seasoned business travelers, airlines and agents say.
Michael Edelman, an agent at JB's World Travel in Manhattan, reported that about a quarter of the agency's customers are requesting non-DC-10 flights.
''Slowly but surely, we're getting more requests from people to stay off DC-10s,'' he said.
Other travel agents, like William Cooper in Pompano Beach, Fla., say they're seeing more apprehension about air safety in general, not limited to specific types of aircraft.
That concern has been heigtened by other recent incidents involving aging aircraft and other jets, said Cooper, president of Adventure Travels.
On Thursday, a Trump Shuttle Boeing 727 carrying 56 people skidded to a halt in an emergency landing in Boston after its nose gear failed to extend. And on Friday, a Braniff Airways flight from New York to Florida made a safe emergency landing at Newark, N.J., after a warning light on the 727 indicated a hydraulics problem.
''There's obviously some apprehension out there with what's happening,'' Cooper said. He noted that senior citizens and families with young children are among his most concerned customers.
In response to questions on Thursday, Federal Aviation Administrator James B. Busey said regulators had no hard facts to warrant grounding the nation's DC-10 fleet.