Human error stubborn snag in airline safety

• In September 2003, an airline pilot riding in a jet's passenger section noticed that the 737-200 did not have flaps extended as the jet reached the runway at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Only when the jet accelerated toward takeoff did the flaps begin to come down, the pilot said.

"Obviously, the takeoff warning horn saved all aboard from a terrible mishap," the pilot said. "It's pretty difficult to believe an event like this would take place."

• In October 2000, a captain of a flight in St. Louis acknowledged forgetting to set the flaps until the warning horn sounded.

The captain said that issues with congestion at the airport, restarting an engine and dealing with an unruly passenger caused the crew to forget a checklist.

"It is very sobering to realize that only a small warning horn kept my flight from being a replay of the … MD-80 crash (in Detroit in 1978)," the pilot said.

• In January 2007, a co-pilot recalled having to repeatedly shout at the captain before the senior pilot ordered flaps extended after they had reached the runway — a violation of the airline's procedures.

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