Tokyo Accident Latest for Much-Derided Plane

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2009 2:56 PM CDT
A graphic shows the number of incidents involving MD-11 aircraft since 1992.   (AP Photo)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – A notoriously finicky airplane may have contributed to the Tokyo crash that killed two American FedEx pilots today, the Wall Street Journal reports. The McDonnell Douglas MD-11 is believed to handle poorly in high winds, which were reported at the time of the crash. Though problems with the flight-control systems were addressed by the company nearly 10 years ago, they were blamed in a series of accidents.

Another common complaint with the MD-11 is an exaggerated reaction to vertical movement commands. In the Tokyo crash, the plane’s nose swung down drastically twice before the aircraft flipped and burst into flames. The MD-11 was phased out of passenger use because of poor fuel economy and the flight-control issues, but is popular with freight carriers.