The National Transportation Safety Board, acting two days after a World Airways flight attendant was pinned inside a DC10 galley lift and died, yesterday recommended the repositioning of safety switches controlling such lifts.
The board also asked the Federal Aviation Administration to order replacement of the switches on all DC10s. The plane's manufacturer, McDonnell Douglas Corp., had recommended such a corrective measure after a lift injured an employe several years ago, a company spokesman said.
A safety board spokesman said that the switches had been replaced on the World Airways plane.
DC10s contain two lifts linking the passenger deck with a small galley below, where meals are prepared. Attendant Karen Williams, 24 and a former Miss Oakland, was attempting to remove a food cart from a lift in the lower galley when the lift began moving up, trapping her against the door frame, the board said.
First reports had said Williams had been crushed to death. However, a preliminary autopsy report said she had died of "cardiac arrest with a minor degree of asphyxiation," an airline spokesman was quoted as saying.
Safety switches are supposed to keep the lifts from moving if either of their doors is open. However, the board noted that McDonnell Douglas had found that "foreign liquid substances" -- presumably food or beverages -- could cause the switches to malfunction.
The board yesterday recommended the switches be moved to place where they would be safe from damage by carts and attendants and exposure to food and drink. Board spokesman Ira Furman said it was hoped that the FAA would apply the changes both to in-service DC-10s and ones to be manufactured.
Yesterday a spokesman for McDonnell Douglas said the firm was preparing a new directive concerning the lifts for DC10 operators.
Williams' death occurred on World Airways Flight 32 from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to Gatwick Airport outside London.