We represented some victims of the KAL Boeing 747 air disaster in August, 1997 in Guam. The 747 was on final approach when it crashed short of the Guam Airport on a hill nearby. The hill was dense with tropical growth, including “saw grass” which made it very difficult for rescue teams to reach the crash site. There were only 20 survivors, one of whom was our client. The aircraft broke into pieces and one of our clients escaped the burning wreckage and crawled nearby. He described the horror of hearing tires explode and sail over his head, crashing into the jungle, and watching the aircraft burn throughout the night. After this disaster KAL changed the cockpit culture to encourage the first officer/co-pilot to speak up and question the captain when something was clearly going wrong. The cockpit voice recorder captured the co-pilot asking the captain if he heard the 747’s automatic ground proximity warning, telling the crew in a recorded voice “pull up pull up.”
The Boeing 747 is an American wide-body commercial jet airliner and cargo aircraft, often referred to by its original nickname, “Jumbo Jet.” Its distinctive “hump” upper deck along the forward part of the aircraft has made it one of the most recognizable aircraft, and it was the first wide-body airplane produced. Manufactured in the United States, it was first flown commercially in 1970 and held the passenger capacity record for 37 years.