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 ESG Final Paper.docx


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Zubair Plane Failure

ESG 201

Final Project

Alexis Scida, Christian Demers, Joey Giambalvo, Hongfei Kan



         Around a year ago, a man named Zubair Khan fatally crashed his modified Cozy Mark IV airplane into the water near Mattituck, NY.  Due to the damage done to the plane, as well as the lack of witnesses, it was difficult to determine specifically what caused the failure. However we can analyze certain aspects of his plane that had a higher risk, and were therefore more subject to failure. First, we must understand both his plane, and what is known about what happened on that unfortunate day.

Zubair’s plane was a modified version of a homebuilt Cozy Mark IV. This plane, weighing 1050 lbs. with a length of 16.9 ft., could fly with speeds up to 180 knots[1]. Nevertheless, Zubair wanted to make his plane, a Raven IO540, faster and more aerodynamic. Many told him that he was pushing the limits of his plane, that it could only handle so many modifications before it was unsafe to fly. He continued to modify the plane, making it increasingly dissimilar to the original design. Some modifications include retractable landing gear, increasing weight and making the plane streamlined,  a larger engine, adding 100 lbs. and nearly 100 horsepower in comparison to the original, lengthening the fuselage (body) of plane, and making a forward hinged canopy (as opposed to the original side hinge). In changing the weight and length of the plane, he created an unbalance that would thus affect the stability during flight. It is important to understand the manipulations he made to his plane, as they are the source of error that caused the crash.

When looking at exactly what occurred during the accident, we rely mostly on radar date, which gives indication of the altitude and direction the plane was flying. On the day the incident occurred, Mr. Khan was in the process of undergoing a series of “test flights”. These test flights, usually an hour or so long, are done in order to ensure the safety of the plane, as they are homebuilt aircrafts and there is much room for error. During the first few test flights, pilots are required to use a parachute, in case of an emergency. Although at this time in Zubair’s test flights, he was not required to wear a parachute, he still chose to. Despite seeming unimportant at the time, we can look back at how unsafe the plane was, and Mr. Khan, being an experienced pilot, knew the possible consequences of his design changes. The radar data that was collected and analyzed indicates that the plane at 7,000 ft., took a 270-degree left turn and descended downward to 2,000 ft in less than one minute. That descent is equivalent to over 5,000 ft/min., nearly a vertical downward plunge at a speed of 190 knots. At 2,000 ft. the plane began to level, and the rate of descent was approximately 500 ft/min at 90 knots. Radar data was then lost at 1,100 ft.[2]. From this information, we can conclude that the failure occurred around 7,000 ft., causing the pilot to lose control of the plane and plummet to 2,000 ft.. These types of aircrafts are specially designed to self-stable and land with little to no instruction from the pilot. Albeit, this data may not give much indication as to what caused the failure, however we will refer back to it.

Recalling the changes made to his plane, it can be concluded that the plane was greatly varied from its original. To further continue the analysis, a specific and vital part to the plane must be taken into account. The aileron, the back part of the wing, is necessary in banking and steering the plane3. These parts, connected together through the body of the plane, turn in opposite directions (ie. as one turns up, the other turns down).  Similarly to the rest of the plane, they are made of Styrofoam, fiberglass coated in a layer of paint. In addition, there is a steel rod that runs through from one end to other. This rod is essential to balancing the aileron. The ailerons must be balanced (hang at the right angle from the hinge points) in order for the plane to correctly and safely fly. Due to the multiple changes in weight that Zubair made to his plane, his ailerons were not correctly balanced. If this balance occurs, at high speeds, an action called “fluttering” will occur 4. This so-called “fluttering” is a rapid vibration of the ailerons that causes a loss of control of the plane, hence the rapid descent that the radar data indicates. When Zubair’s plane was found in the water between Mattituck and Connecticut, it showed indication that aileron flutter had occurred. The hinges connecting the aileron to the main wing were bent and stressed. In one spot, the aileron was completely torn from the wing, showing that major tension was put on the hinges. This failure, although the cause of the plane’s plummet, was not the failure that causes the pilot’s death.

Again, we will look back on the on the modifications Zubair made, focusing on the canopy. In most Cozy aircrafts, the canopy is hinged on the side. This design proves to be safe, and decreases the likelihood of the canopy opening mid-flight. There have been multiple cases in which the canopy has opened mid-flight, and although scary, does not affect the flight of the plane.  Few reports of fatal accidents occurring due to canopy opening have been reported, and analysis of those failures prove that it was the misjudgment and handling of the situation by the pilot that caused death 5.[3]Zubair Khan deliberately changed the design of the canopy on his airplane, knowing that his plane was at high risk of failure, with the intent of being able to get out in case of emergency. However, based on previous accidents and the design of the plane, the decision of the pilot to escape his plane is usually a poor one. In Mr. Khan’s design, he created an easy release latch connecting the back of the canopy, and removable hinges connecting the front. In concept, this design was supposed to allow the lift force acting upon the entire plane to lift the canopy vertically upwards. The canopy, weighing 40 lbs., with 300 lbs. of lift acting upon it, is in the shape of an airfoil6. Due to the airfoil shape, a negative pressure is created near the low end. Thus giving that end more lift than the front, larger end. The greater lift at the smaller end creates a counterclockwise rotation, in addition to the upward lift. When the plane went into a near nosedive, the pilot released the hatch and pulled the pins with the intent of opening his parachute and escaping the plummeting plane. However due to the forces we discussed, and their behavior, the canopy rotated counterclockwise before lifting up. This rotation, which was not accounted for by the pilot, is what caused his demise.  When the canopy rotated first, it hit the pilot in the head with enough force to kill him instantaneously. It was believed that after the plane stabled and landed, the impact with the water was highly survivable. The canopy shows cracks where it made contact with Zubair’s head. Also, the pins were stressed, proving he pulled them, and his parachute was deployed. His decision to escape his plane was ironically what caused his ultimate mistake. The canopy was found three days after the initial accident occurred and the plane and pilot were identified. This further proves that the canopy was ejected, and was also the cause of the pilot’s death.

Overall, Zubair’s plane was experimental and highly dangerous. The multiple modifications he made to the plane each had a separate result. In not accounting and accommodating for these resulting factors, it caused his plane to be unsafe to fly. However, knowing his plane was unsafe, and susceptible to failure, he took precautions, such as wearing a parachute and making releasable pins for the canopy. First, the incorrectly balanced ailerons fluttered, causing the pilot to lose control of the plane, and begin a rapid descent. In the midst of the descent, the pilot panicked, releasing the pins from the canopy. The canopy was ejected, hitting the pilot in the head and causing immediate death. The aileron then broke off (but remained attached by the rod), ceasing the fluttering, which allowed the plane the stable and self-land.

 Primarily, the aileron flutter was in fact a materials failure. The poor construction of the ailerons caused them to be unable to withstand the speed, and weight of this particular aircraft. Thus fluttering, causing the plane to bank hard left and rapidly descent, eventually to break free from the hinges. On the contrary, the pilot failed to correctly account for the changes he made to the plane. It was the pilot’s error for incorrectly balancing the ailerons; especially considering that multiple instruction manuals and professionals who explain in detail how an aileron should be correctly balanced. In addition, the pilot incorrectly chose to release the canopy and falsely calculated the amount of lift force. Thus making this failure based mainly on incorrect human judgment, and errors made in design and execution. 

          Now that we are familiar with the specifics of what happened during the accident, let’s now relate it to several topics that we have learned as a class throughout this semester. One of the most important formulas that was introduced throughout this class was the “consequences of risk” formula. According to this formula, consequences of risk = vulnerability x rate of occurrences x cost (in $ or human lives) / mitigation. The first variable that will be discussed relating to the Zubair Plane Crash will be vulnerability. Vulnerability refers to the exposure to risk (such as a placement of a facility on a geological fault line, or designing a system without sufficient ways to monitor operation.) When relating this variable to the Zubair Plane Crash, one might say that since the canopy wasn’t properly fastened the entire plane system was properly prepared for an emergency (in addition to the obvious fact that the ailerons weren’t properly adjusted for with the addition of Zubair’s modifications to his plane). When looking at the vulnerability in terms of the climate conditions, the weather wasn’t anything unusual for flying so, at least in this case, the vulnerability wasn’t considered high here. Also, the fact that he was alone in the plane made him, in a way, a bit more vulnerable for a disaster to occur. FAA requires two people in the cockpit on United States flights at all times. This is because if somebody makes a mistake or perhaps doesn’t know what to do, there is always someone there, just in case, to back them up and provide support for them. Since Zubair was alone on this flight, when the ailerons began acting up he panicked. If he was maybe in the accompaniment of another experienced pilot, then he might have guided them to relax, calm down, take a deep breath and guide Zubar to take the proper steps to avoid such a fatality. There are a lot of sub-variables that one can delve into when discussing the vulnerability variable in the risk equation, especially when relating it to the Zubair failure. 

            The second variable in the risk equation is rate of occurrence. This is related to the potential for failure, based on models or experience. An interesting fact to note about Zubair was that before this disaster occurred, Zubair also had some technical difficulties with some of his other planes in which he modified. There as an incident a few weeks prior in which there was a malfunction in his airplane and it had to land immediately. One might think that after one malfunction due to modifications it might be enough, but nope! Zubair, regardless of his previous experiences still went along with what he planned on doing and didn’t take into account the rate of occurrence factor.

            The next variable is cost. Cost is the magnitude of the disaster. By magnitude it could be referring to cost to people, environment, industry, economy etc. This particular incident certainly doesn’t have much of an impact on the economy or the environment, yet still had its impact. The fact that simply just one human life is lost is infinitely times worse than money being lost. Many things can be replaced, but something that most certainly cannot be are human lives. It certainly isn’t a disaster on an extremely large scale such as the sinking of the Titanic, but still a disaster nonetheless. The unfortunate fact that a human life could have and was lost is something to take note of. Many other lives also could have been lost if the plane were to have lose control and crash into an unsuspected place. Thankfully though, despite the lack of a pilot, the plane was able to land safely and prevent the harm of innocent bystanders on the ground.

            The next and final variable in the equation is mitigation. Mitigation are the ways to reduce any of the other factors discussed, from better models, to design a more robust facility or those which would impact the environment less in case of a failure, to adding sensors and rapid response systems. One way that Zubair could have mitigated the ailerons from flaring up was if he were to further investigate the effects of the modifications he made on his place. When equipping a flying machine, ­­­especially one of such a small caliber, it is always important to take note of the how certain differences, especially in weight and length can affect each part of the plane. If Zubair realized his modifications caused alterations in the functions of the ailerons, he could have balanced them out by either adding or subtracting weight. Mitigation could have also been improved if, as stated before, he were flying with someone else, yet unfortunately the plane was only designed for one.

            Another risk factor that was widely discussed in class was complexity. Complexity can perfectly relate to this situation. By modifying his airplane, he essentially made the entire plane system complex, which in turn caused problems to occur. We discussed in class how when systems become more complex, it becomes difficult to predict the possibilities of failure simply because it is often difficult to tell how certain sub-systems interact with other sub-systems. Complex systems each component within the overall system is ignorant of the behavior of the system as a whole. It’s hard to know the full effects of its actions as well. Components of the system (in this case it would be the ailerons, heavier engines, etc.) respond locally to information presented by them there and the. Complexity arises from large, multiplied webs of relationships and interactions. In other words, this can too confusing and too high-tech for their own good. If Zubair were to use a simpler, more well understood model of his airplane, this tragedy would probably never have occurred in the first place. Complexity can be beneficial at times and can solve many problems, but can make prediction and modeling extremely difficult. This can clearly be seen through in the Zubair plane crash.

            Throughout class we have discussed a wide variety of psychological risk causes. One that was highly talked about was overconfidence. Overconfidence is when one feels too good that nothing will go wrong, yet in actuality something is more than capable of occurring in a negative manner. Here, Zubair exhibits overconfidence in that he modifies his airplane without thinking too much of it. He probably said something along the lines of, “Oh, it’s nothing. I’m sure everything will be fine.” This is the type of attitude that quintessentially illustrates overconfidence. As stated before, he also had some problems in the past with his previous airplane models, yet still didn’t think that those mishaps would prevent him from changing his mind to modify the airplane again. Sure, one might say he showed perseverance, yet at the same time exemplified overconfidence, something far too responsible for many of the disasters that occur today. This can also refer to normalization of deviance. In other words, Zubair almost became accustomed to the faulty parts present within his airplane. Despite being aware that something might go wrong, Zubair continued to change his airplane until the ailerons faulted and then he ended up killing himself with the misplaced canopy.   

            There are mainly two parts during this whole failure, the establishment and maintenance before the failure, and the practical operation part. We can analyze the first part from three aspects: societal implication, business implication, and the legal implications.

            Nowadays, personal aircraft have already been popularized widely, and the expanding technique which is developing at the same time is absolutely the personalized modification. With the development of the entire society, people would like to show their personality. It’s a society in where people encourage and applause to show every one’s personality. With this kind of influence from the entire society, only few individual can escape from this whole atmosphere. In this Zubair Plane Failure, though the fatal reason that lead to the pilot’s death is the attack from canopy, but before that, the pilot got panic that made him do a totally wrong decision — which is releasing the safety pin of canopy — is because of the unbalance of the fuselage. When the Radar turned took a 270° left turn and descended to 2,000 ft in under a minute, the plane began to level out and descend at 500 ft per minute at 90 knots. But because of the mismatching between the original wings and modified fuselage, there was a flutter happened on this plane which was strong enough to lead to the unbalance of the whole fuselage. If consider from this angle, the most basic reason of this accident is the modification that the pilot did on this plane. He was doomed to modify his air, and what he did, is mainly because of the total social atmosphere.

            Business implications could also be found in this failure. It’s always advocated to show personality while dealing business relationship as it could help you to make much more stronger impression of yourself to your business partner. It absolutely would benefit you, but this is also a kind of misleading somehow. During a business dealing, the most important thing is the hard conditions but not diplomacy with no doubt, but the fact is, amount of people will ignore this fact selectively, even they actually know it and understand it clearly. Therefore, though it sounds like that there is no relationship between business implication and this failure, they actually are connected together.

            Legal implication could be another implication which lead to this outcome. The relevant law which about car modification listed five main type modification that are not allowed, which are: Sound and noise modifications, Frame and suspension modifications, Engine modifications, After-market lighting modifications, and Tinted windows modifications. These laws are established because of the safe problem and social influence. The third one and the fifth one can be strongly connected with this accident. For the third law about car modifications, it said that if the modified engine violate state’s smog or clean-air standards, the modifications would be generally considered illegal. But at the same time, this law is also designed from safe aspect. For the original engine, it’s obviously much easier for all of the traffic police, Traffic Management Bureau and even government to manage. When the Traffic Management Bureau is drafting a new traffic rules, of course the indicator that they will consider the first is about the masses but not the niche population. Therefore, when someone is driving a car which is modified by himself outside, it’s just like an individual drifting away outside the rule. For example, as for the relevant rule about vehicle distance, in order to lower the risk of pileup when a car stop accidentally, it’s pretty common to limit the speed of a car. But the impulsion that resulted from the different engine are totally different. Therefore, if somewhere the traffic laws set the maximum velocity as 60 miles per hours, it is mainly considered from the general cars’ impulsion. It might means that  if one car stops suddenly, if the car driving right after that car is at a speed that lower than 60, the time and the distance between them is able for driver to stop the car on time. But as for the car which has already been modified, even if the driver is driving follow the rules, his reflection speed still not fast enough for the driver to have correct and timely reaction toward this accident because of its extra high impulsion. But beside these laws which is about basic safe problem, there are really few laws about personality modification. This phenomenon happens on all the types of transportation, conclude the personal aircraft. But the thing is, when someone starts modifying, even if they held a conception that they can only make modification on unique personality at first, they will always forget to stick the relevant laws gradually, and when they think that the basic configurations are not fit to the personality, they may finally do the changing what they are actually not supposed, neither allowed to do. So as my own opinion, I think government should strengthen the management of personal modification.

            In order to analyze the second part of the Zubair Plane Failure — which is the actual accident moment, we can also divide this problem into three aspects, and they are still the societal, the business, and the legal implications of the failure.

            Social implication is the first problem during the whole accident. It’s much more important while serious in this case. What happened in the Zubair Plane Failure is that at 7,000 ft, the aircraft took a 270° left turn and descended to 2,000 ft in under a minute — which is approximately 5,000 ft per minute at speeds close to 190 knots. At 2,000 ft, the plane began to level out and descend at 500 ft per minute at 90 knots. The pilot — Radar was lost at 1,000 ft. From where we can see that in this whole incident, the fatal reason is actually the pilot’s operation but not the breakdown of Zubair it self. Made of foam, fiber glass and a steel rod, the ailerons must be balanced in order for the plane to safely fly. But Zubair is obviously below this standard. Radar did a lot of modification on this plane, include a larger engine — which is retractable landing gear, but more aerodynamic yet much heavier, a lengthened fuselage body — which is designed for adjusting for the heavier engine, and a forward hinged canopy. The canopy is the one which finally swept the pilot. It’s easy to understand the first two modification. Lengthened fuselage for better look, larger engine to support the modified fuselage, but as for the canopy part, it’s kind of strange and inscrutable. However, no matter at which point we are focusing, the social implication is always the one that cannot be ignored. The mismatching between Zubair’s wings and body led to the unbalance of the air itself. After the accident, Zubair’s plane was inspected, and it was concluded the ailerons did not balance. This unbalance creates “flutter” (rapid vibration of the ailerons), thus causing a loss of

control of the plane.


The ailerons are sections of the wing necessary to bank the plane. Located on either wing, they are connected and rotate in opposite directions. It’s the unbalancing which caused the flutter and make the pilot feel panic.So fundamentally saying, it’s the modification which lead to this tragedy, but if consider from the operation’s aspect, it will be the social’s fault. As general known, no matter what happened when amid an air, people should never escape from the plane. Regardless the risk of fall dead, the pressure difference between inside and outside can also be strong enough to cause death. On the other hand, with the development of technology these days, the number of the planes which with auto land system loading is increasing in a high speed, also, other prevention facilities are almost all perfect. Therefore, if a pilot stay inboard, his/her survival chance is actually bigger than escape from the plane which seemingly dangerous and fatal. Just like in this case, after the plane stabled, it finally self landed successfully, however the pilot had already suffered a fatal blow to the head.

            The business implication seems like not as strong as social implication in this case, and it does, somehow. The behaviors at a critical juncture is mainly depends on human’s instinct, which means that extraneous factor can only make few impact on human’s reaction at dangerous moment. But for the word “instinct”, we can also consider it from another point of view. The instinct is something which is influenced by environment all the time, so all the element that appears in the environment where the pilot living in should all be considered. Of course include the business implication. Though this case is only a very private incident happened on a personal aircraft, it can represent the present situation of almost all of the private aircraft. They mainly consider about their personal feelings, but the fact is, if we do not standardize for it, there might be more and more tragedy going on. Human being all have a feature of following others. For example, if someone get started on trying some new and challenging things, most people who is staying in the same crowd with that people will have a much higher tension to try, even if he/she do not understand it yet neither have any contact before. On the other hand, if someone died in a popular activity, there is no doubt of how serious the impact that brought by that “pioneer” would be. So though it is just a private tended incident, the business implication of this failure is undeniable.

            As we talked about the business implication which is not strong enough in the above paragraph, the legal implication then would be worse than business implication. Of course we cannot elect a law to forbid people’s instinct — especially at the critical junction. But in order to decrease the risk, we can absolutely draft a law on popularize relevant knowledge before the incident. As a conclusion, though the Zubair Plane Failure is just a private tended incident, the business implication of this failure is undeniable, neither assignable.

            It truly is a magical thing to witness a homemade plane successfully fly over the homes of Long Island as many residents suggested. Although the crash was devastating to the friends and family of Zubair Khan, it is important to understand the reasoning behind the plane’s failure and what could be done in the future to avoid disasters later on. In many situations like these, engineers must always evaluate every inch of their project along with performing multiple test runs in order to successfully and safely create a design. In Zubair’s situation, putting his life on the line meant that he would have to have known every functioning part of his plane along with how to handle every type of situation that may occur. Being known for his daredevil loop-de-loops, it could be suggested that Zubair may not have tested the parts properly. But what can we gather from this incident that engineers can use to avoid this type of failure again in the future?

            Mr. Kahn was an extraordinary man with a wide range of intelligence. Before starting this project, many people doubted him with their comments on how difficult this project would be along with suggesting that he was over his head. While already having a master’s degree from the University of Texas at Arlington along with being the vice president of a financial software company, Zubair found himself well-qualified to successfully design his aircraft[4]. Considering the 4,000 Cozy planes flying in the United States, Mr. Khans crash was among the several crashes that had occurred within 20 years. Although this did not add to the skepticism brought onto the young man, many people admitted to believing that his limited experience with aircraft projects (of this magnitude) would play as a factor [5].

            The aircraft known as a Mark IV modified Cozy had a large engine, retractable landing gear and forward hinged canopy. As mentioned previously, the failure of the ailerons played as one of the biggest roles in the accident occurring. In most cases, balanced ailerons create comfortable control of the aircraft so the pilot can safety bank and maneuver it properly.  Since they were unbalanced in Zubair’s case, the vapid vibrations caused loss of control thus sending him towards the ground. Being both created by material failure and human error, the control surfaces were ultimately not balanced properly and caused Zubair to panic for an escape. As a second failure that took place, the awkwardly attached forward hinged canopy that Zubair created for escape malfunctioned when forces caused the 40lb piece to rotate before lifting off striking him in the head. All of these factors played a part in Zubais’s death.

            After the incident had taken place, many aircraft engineers began to pay closer attention to details of their designs such as the ones that caused the accident on Long Island. Furthermore, engineers now narrow down balancing their ailerons as perfect as possible in order to maintain control and bank their aircrafts properly.  In doing so, balancing the ailerons require a strong relationship between the size of the aileron and that of the stick, wheel or yoke. Essentially, reducing our increasing an aircraft’s stick force can balance the rotation of the aileron. Known as the “hinge moment”, this can also be affected by chord of the aileron and the shape of the wing’s air fold. In Zubair’s case, his straight –sided ailerons deflect more easily and would have ultimately needed to be balanced by thickening the ailerons and applying a wedge-shaped trailing edge. This causes a mechanical advantage where the aileron is tugged on by the corner of the bevel due to the bending of the airflow.[6] The servo tab is another approach engineers are beginning to use more in which a trim-like tab is attached to the wing where the aileron will deflect in the opposite direction of the tab. The balancing is then focused on the servo tab being further from the hinge then the center of pressure located on the aileron[7].

            Applying counterweight to ailerons is a great way to avoid the fluttering and loss of control that Zubair experienced in his incident. After understanding the reasoning behind the crash, many engineers focus on countering the weight of ailerons by applying lead ballasts and drilling lead to the surfaces of the pieces[8]. Since the leading edge of the nose ribs are one of the most important spots to apply weight on an aileron, many engineers suggest filling an aluminum tube with molten lead and riveting them into place. After that is completed, designers can then drill out the lead until balance is achieved [9]. In understanding this, it may be suggested that Zubair did not put the time and effort in balancing the ailerons in this fashion. Although the excitement and determination of getting his aircraft in the air may have detoured him from paying close attention to detail, putting this kind of effort into building certain pieces of his design may have saved his life.

            In addition to future development of ailerons, the development of aircraft canopies is an important aspect that is more focused on after Zubair’s crash. As previously stated, Zubair’s aircraft included a forward hinged canopy where as in most Cozy aircrafts, the canopy would usually open to the side. In considering the crash rates of these types of planes, it would have been smart for Zubair to follow the usually design structures of these planes in order to avoid disaster. Furthermore, in building his canopy with intent of possible escape, his plan backfired when forces swung the structure into his head. The forward hinge design also included removable safety pins and a rear latch but due to the shape, the canopy rotated abruptly and lifted causing the pilot to sustain a fatal blow as the plain self-landed.

            After having studied the experience of the accident, engineers focus on keeping the rear end of the canopy remaining secure. If this had taken place in Zubairs incident the counter clockwise rotation caused by the wind forces would not have taken place during the accident. Essentially, the lifting force would have caused the front to raise and move backwards allowing a safer escape. [10] Today, most canopies are vacuum formed. This also involved a lot of acrylic molding along with trimming and shaping while attaching it to an aluminum or composite frame. Although this process is a very precise, it is the kind of precision that is needed for providing a strong secure cockpit for the pilot. In Zubair’s case, it seems as though his canopy was not attached with this kind of precision. It is important that when engineers construct a design that is supposed to protect a person in any kind of flight, taking into consideration constant detail is essential to safely protecting a person and making sure it does not backfire.

            So what does this disaster suggest about the ethics of designing and experimenting? Well as a group, we suggest that corners should never be cut when it comes to building something such as an aircraft. Furthermore, Zubair should have taken the time to completely and accurately balance out his ailerons with one of the previously mentioned methods. In situations like these, taking the time to complete a design and make sure all the pieces function properly is essential in avoiding disaster. We always must consider that any small flaw in the system such as a missing screw or poor wiring could cause devastation to the project and people. Paying close attention to this kind of detail could be the difference between life and death.

             Ultimately ethics is important in engineering because failure in this field could be disastrous.  The vulnerability found in Zubairs ailerons and canopy created a higher risk and probability of failure. This also affected the cost of the project because of all the money that was lost when the plane crashed. Although there was a good amount of mitigation and preparedness put into the design, it seems as though that there wasn’t enough of it focused on certain areas such as the ailerons and canopy. In today’s society, a large percentage of engineering failures involve the failure of a design process or management culture[11]. Furthermore, the job of an engineer requires the pursuit in benefiting the environment and safely creating a system that will help do a certain job. They must do so by efficiently carrying out their work ethics and abiding by the law along with committing him or herself to the highest standards of their codes of conduct[12].

            In conclusion, the Zubair plane accident on Long Island is a great example of how paying close attention to precise detail could easily alter the outcome of an experiment. The responsibility of engineers is one of the most important responsibilities compared to any other jobs. Zubair has the responsibility of his own life when building his aircraft and it unfortunately failed him when his ailerons and canopy were not up to par with the rest of the plane. Additionally, if he had balanced out his ailerons correctly and made the right adjustments in cutting away steal in the method stated previously, he would have maintained control of his aircraft. Also, if he had attached his canopy so it opens to the side like most Cozy aircrafts, it would have released upon request and he would have not been struck in the head. Ultimately, these two pieces of the design are crucial in conducting a safe flight experiment especially on a home-built plane. We can suggest that the absence of ethical behavior lie behind the issue of paying close attention every aspect of detail in a design. Furthermore, providing multiple test runs along with taking into consideration the past history of previous designs helps lower the risk of failure and raise the possibility of success. By taking this into consideration, Zubair Khan would still be here today.


[2]  Radar Data from interview with Joseph L.

3 http://www.rc-airplane-world.com/image-files/airplane-controls.gif

4 Interview with test flight specialist Christopher S.


5  Report of all major failures (crashes) in Cozy Mark IV airplanes

6 http://w3.shorecrest.org/~Lisa_Peck/Physics/syllabus/phases/gases/gaswp05/shelaan/airfoil.gif

[12] p://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engineering_ethics#Conduct




I truly enjoyed working with my group to accomplish this final project. I learned a lot about airplane mechanics and the importance of engineering ethics. It is important to understand that cutting corners and avoiding testing certain parts of a design may cause devistation. In terms of this airplane crash, Zubair would have lived if he correctly maintained his ailerons and canopy. Hopefully, engineers continue to learn from this incident and use it towards future projects. I know that I will use what i have learned from this disaster, even if it is not in the field of engineering.

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.