how is an airplane crash investigated?

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Not sure if this is a topic for a 5 year old, but I’m curious. I know we have black boxes
that keep record of data, but is it more than that?
I was reading about a B2 stealth bomber crash almost 15 years ago, the USAF investigation determined there
was moisture in the port transducer units causing
the air data system to malfunction.
If the plane crashed, how can they draw the
conclusion that there was moisture anywhere at all?

In: 4

Investigators will draw from many sources. The black box is obviously a big one as it can tell what the systems were reporting at the time of the crash and what the pilots’ were discussing and trying to do. But there are also maintenance logs to see if there was any recent work done or known issues with any equipment that may have potentially failed. Personnel records in the event of pilot error. Weather reports regarding humidity and temperature of the region the crash occurred. Pulling all this together, investigators will try to come up with an explanation that matches all the available data.

In your example with the B2, it was likely that the black box had recorded the system failure. Knowing the system, experts can come up with various reasons which may cause the reported type of failure. If moisture is a possibility, they would then look at weather and maintenance reports to see if there was some likely path to which the system might be exposed to intruding moisture. They would go over other possibilities too if applicable then weight the likelihood of each.

It is much, much more. Flight data recorders can provide information on what the aircraft was doing for a certain amount of time prior to the mishap, but that data is always being overwritten as the flight progresses.

On the mechanical/material side, investigators will also examine the crash site (if they can), and look at things like how the aircraft hit the ground, the distribution of debris, etc. Maintenance logs are looked at to see what has been done to the aircraft, that proper practices were followed, if there were any recurring or unusual gripes, and to trace component manufacturing for potential defects. Engineers will be consulted to examine components to determine if any damage they have can be attributed to something other than the actual crash, and to help test out theories to fit the available evidence.

On the human side, pilot logs and training records are examined to make sure the pilots are properly trained and qualified, and medical exams may be done to see if they were somehow impaired.

I’m not an expert but for starters I would think you would need a plane to crash to first in order to investigate it.

If the wreckage is recoverable, they will attempt to reassemble the plane.

Like the wreckage of. TWA 800… it crashed in the ocean but they recovered most of it.. and put the pieces back together. They were able to see the explosion happened from the fuel tank.

https://www.airlive.net/wreckage-from-twa-flight-800-wich-crashed-25-years-ago-will-be-destroyed/amp/

0 views

Not sure if this is a topic for a 5 year old, but I’m curious. I know we have black boxes
that keep record of data, but is it more than that?
I was reading about a B2 stealth bomber crash almost 15 years ago, the USAF investigation determined there
was moisture in the port transducer units causing
the air data system to malfunction.
If the plane crashed, how can they draw the
conclusion that there was moisture anywhere at all?

In: 4

Investigators will draw from many sources. The black box is obviously a big one as it can tell what the systems were reporting at the time of the crash and what the pilots’ were discussing and trying to do. But there are also maintenance logs to see if there was any recent work done or known issues with any equipment that may have potentially failed. Personnel records in the event of pilot error. Weather reports regarding humidity and temperature of the region the crash occurred. Pulling all this together, investigators will try to come up with an explanation that matches all the available data.

In your example with the B2, it was likely that the black box had recorded the system failure. Knowing the system, experts can come up with various reasons which may cause the reported type of failure. If moisture is a possibility, they would then look at weather and maintenance reports to see if there was some likely path to which the system might be exposed to intruding moisture. They would go over other possibilities too if applicable then weight the likelihood of each.

It is much, much more. Flight data recorders can provide information on what the aircraft was doing for a certain amount of time prior to the mishap, but that data is always being overwritten as the flight progresses.

On the mechanical/material side, investigators will also examine the crash site (if they can), and look at things like how the aircraft hit the ground, the distribution of debris, etc. Maintenance logs are looked at to see what has been done to the aircraft, that proper practices were followed, if there were any recurring or unusual gripes, and to trace component manufacturing for potential defects. Engineers will be consulted to examine components to determine if any damage they have can be attributed to something other than the actual crash, and to help test out theories to fit the available evidence.

On the human side, pilot logs and training records are examined to make sure the pilots are properly trained and qualified, and medical exams may be done to see if they were somehow impaired.

I’m not an expert but for starters I would think you would need a plane to crash to first in order to investigate it.

If the wreckage is recoverable, they will attempt to reassemble the plane.

Like the wreckage of. TWA 800… it crashed in the ocean but they recovered most of it.. and put the pieces back together. They were able to see the explosion happened from the fuel tank.

https://www.airlive.net/wreckage-from-twa-flight-800-wich-crashed-25-years-ago-will-be-destroyed/amp/