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The 787 and the DC-10: A History of Two Troubled Jets

An American Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-10 lowers its landing gear

An American Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-10 lowers its landing gear Photograph by George Hall/Corbis

The last time the Federal Aviation Administration grounded a commercial airline fleet was in June 1979: the DC-10 jumbo jet built by McDonnell Douglas. On Wednesday, the FAA ordered the grounding of U.S.-registered Boeing 787s, which affects six planes flown by United Airlines. (Other countries have also grounded the planes.) There are few similarities between the two actions:

The human toll. The DC-10 grounding came after a couple of horrific accidents. A Turkish Airlines DC-10 crashed over Paris in 1974 after a cargo door blew off, killing 346 people. It was the second such incident with the door, and engineers had warned of the problem, yet no action was taken. Then, in May 1979, a DC-10 flown by American Airlines crashed during takeoff in Chicago, the result of improper engine-maintenance procedures. That crash killed 293 people. A month later the FAA grounded the DC-10, citing the American crash.