The Alaska Airlines tragedy in January 2000 happened because there was no redundant system to the jackscrew in the tail assembly of the MD-83.
My question is about the MD-90s as a lot of them are still in service. Do they also have similar design problem?
In this accident (watch the videos "Cutting Corners of Flight 261" below), the the Investigation Board reported that the tragedy was attributed more on the maintenance by Alaska Airlines than anything else. The report stated "Had any of the managers, mechanics, inspectors, supervisors or FAA overseers whose job it was to protect this mechanism done their job conscientiously, this accident cannot happen."
In the aftermath, an engineering fix on the jackscrew design was also developed to make progressive failures easy to see and thus, complete failures of a jackscrew almost impossible.
The MD-90, developed from the MD-80 series (second generation DC-9), was launched in 1989, first flew in 1993 and entered service in 1995. No MD-90 orders were taken after Boeing and McDonnell Douglas merged in 1997 due to internal competition with the Boeing 737. The MD-90 production ended in 2000 with the last airplane being delivered to Saudi Arabian Airlines. It is the least successful member of the DC-9 family with 114 airplanes sold.
Naturally, what recommendations on maintenance that came out from the tragedy of Flight 261 are also applicable to the MD-90s. So the issue that caused the accident is not one of design but rather one attributed to shoddy maintenance at that time on the airlines' part.
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