The Nation

A circuit-breaker for the wing-flap warning system on the Northwest Airlines jet that crashed Aug. 16 in Detroit, killing 156 people, was of a type known to be failure prone, a newspaper reported. The Detroit News said that McDonnell Douglas Corp., the plane's manufacturer, had warned airlines in four letters in 1981-83 that Klixon 1-amp to 10-amp circuit-breakers were of poor quality and mechanically unreliable. The National Transportation Safety Board has said warning systems on Northwest Flight 255 failed to alert the pilots that the MD-80 jet's flaps were not in position for takeoff. And two weeks ago, a circuit-breaker on a Northwest MD-80 failed during routine ground tests in Minneapolis, alerting investigators to the potential problem, the newspaper said, citing unidentified sources.

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