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THE CRASH OF VALUJET FLIGHT 592: A CASE STUDY IN STATE-CORPORATE CRIME

RICK A. MATTHEWS and DAVID KAUZLARICH
Sociological Focus
Vol. 33, No. 3 (August 2000), pp. 281-298
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20832084
Page Count: 18
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THE CRASH OF VALUJET FLIGHT 592: A CASE STUDY IN STATE-CORPORATE CRIME
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Abstract

On May 11, 1996, ValuJet flight 592 crashed in the Florida Everglades killing all 105 passengers and five crew members. The technical cause of the crash was a fire that erupted after one or more oxygen generators exploded in a cargo compartment. Governmental investigations have indicated that both ValuJet and SabreTech (an airline maintenance company) failed to comply with a host of regulations concerning the presentation, storage, and transportation of hazardous materials by air. More generally, however, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been found to be negligent in its oversight of airlines by not adequately monitoring the general safety of commercial aircraft as well as by its refusal to institute safeguards and guidelines that would have protected passengers and crews from crashes like that of flight 592. This paper follows the tradition of state-corporate crime theorizing and research by identifying the organizational and structural forces that contributed to the ValuJet crash. This includes an examination of the FAA's contradictory roles as both regulator and supporter of the airline industry, as well as a discussion of both ValuJet's and SabreTech's violations of federal air safety regulations.

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