Episode 4: Bo Corby & NWA Flight 41 into Tehran

| November 11, 2010 | 22 Comments

On June 19, 2005 at 0435 in the morning Tehran local time, Northwest Airlines Flight 41 made an emergency landing at the Meherabad International Airport in Tehran, Iran, the first American air carrier to land in Iran in 26 years. Iran is considered to be a hostile country by the US Government and relations between the two countries are poor.

NWA Flight 41 was operated with a DC-10 EER aircraft, Ship No. 1243, from Bombay to Amsterdam on June 19, 2005. After a climb through moderate turbulence, he flight was being operated under normal conditions at FL320, at night, in VMC conditions, with smooth air, and no extenuating weather or mechanical conditions. The flight was southeast of Dobas intersection on airway UL124 at approximately 2240z. The Captain noticed a momentary illumination of the forward Master Warning light. All cockpit indications were confirmed to be normal. After several further momentary illuminations it was determined that the nature of the Master Warning light illumination was the Aft Cargo Fire-Warning Indicator.

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The flight diverted to Tehran, the captial of Iran due to an aft cargo fire warning. The resulting maintenance issues were resolved, and operational requirements were addressed on the ground in Tehran, the flight departed and continued safely to Amsterdam.

Captain Bo Corby tells the story of Flight 41 in detail. For that reason, and as a matter of making a permanent record to aviation safety, we have not edited that part of the audio. It is a magnificent example of teamwork, communication and resolve – despite NWA operations telling the crew that “they were on their own”.

The incident woke up the President. It was a matter of interest to the FBI, and it is remembered as an incident of national interest.


icon for podpress  Bo Corby & NWA Flight 41 into Tehran: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

You can download directly from this link (right click and “save as”) or scroll to the bottom of the page.

Pictures of NWA Flight 41

Airway Information

routing dobas intersection diversion
Routing of Flight (large) Dobas Intersection (large) Point of Diversion (large)

Approach & Airport Information

ils rwy 29l disembark passengers taxi info
ILS Rwy 29L (large) Pax & Inspection (large) Taxi Info (large)

The People of NWA Flight 41

crew helpful Iranians akbari
Captain & Crew Helpful Iranians Bo & Mr. Akbari

Leaving Iran

push helpful Iranians diversion
One hour prior to push Taxi out Leaving Iran

About Captain Bo Corby

Bo has worked for a number of airlines and has flown everything from the Beech 18 to the Boeing 747 – including about every Boeing and Douglas aircraft in between. He is an accomplished Check Airman with a career in numerous management and safety roles – including heading up a number of CRM initiatives. Most recently, he worked on the Boeing 787 training program.

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Captain G.W. “Bo” Corby is a 1969 graduate of Parks College of Aeronautical Technology of St. Louis University, St. Louis, MO.

Captain Corby began his aviation career as a Flight Crew Instructor for the Boeing Company, followed by 3 years in the Middle East as a pilot/flight engineer for several airlines, returning to the U.S. in 1977 as a pilot for Hughes Airwest in San Mateo, California. Hughes Airwest later merged with Republic Airlines and eventually Northwest Airlines (NWA). At NWA, he served as NWA ALPA Training Committee Chairman and in this position participated as one of 3 Board Members on the Pilot Training Review Board at NWA. This Board evaluated issues in the NWA training department relating to pilot training deficiencies. He retired from NWA in 2006.

In addition to his airline career, Captain Corby founded and operated Simulator Training, Inc., an FAR 142 Training Center operating its own B-727, B-737 and Lockheed Electra L-188 Full Flight Simulators, providing training services to airlines, individuals and governments, worldwide. During the same period, Captain Corby owned and operated Noland Decoto Flying Service in Yakima WA, a full service Fixed Base Operation, providing the local community with aircraft charter services and flight training under FAR 61 and 141.He currently resides in Seattle, Washington and works as a Corporate Aviation Department Manager and pilot for a Seattle family.

This is the first time Bo has shared his story that remains undocumented despite its significance to aviation safety. We thank Bo for his time and willingness to share his unique experience.

IT/EFB Symposium Singapore

Ken attended an EFB symposium in Singapore. The purpose of the visit was to raise airline (management) awareness of the significance of EFB technology into the flight deck and cabin. Ken discusses the conference briefly. We plan on a technical episode that will address the significant cost advantages of the latest technologies in a later episode.

QF32 Uncontained Engine Failure

We briefly talk about the uncontained engine failure of QF32, an Airbus A380 bound for Sydney from Singapore. We didn’t consider it appropriate to talk in depth considering the lack of quality information and the early stage of the formal investigation. We have planned a panel discussion with leading authorities but we’ll refrain from recording until more is known. We had a gentleman from the Australian Engineers’ Association contact us but we declined.

A few images of Qantas Airbus A380, Flight QF32

qf32 qf32 qf32

A note on audio quality

We trialled a number of microphones during the recording in this session so you will hear a variation in audio quality from time-to-time. We’re all on PR40’s from episode 5.

Qantas 90th Anniversary Celebrations

The Qantas 90th anniversary celebrations were somewhat shadowed by QF32 and the failure of a 747 the following day. We play a short (poor quality) recording with Alan Joyce (Qantas CEO) and actor John Travolta. Thanks to Will from the Flight Global ‘Wings Down Under’ blog for providing this audio (we didn’t get our recorder on the podium in time!). You can view some pictures from the day on our Facebook page (are you a ‘fan‘ yet?)

Qantas’ 90th Anniversary Staff Open Day in Sydney
View the album on our Facebook Page

qf1 qf2 qf3

Boeing 777 Simulator Giveaway

We have a 1-hour ride in the Flight City Boeing 777 simulator at Jandakot, Perth, worth $275, to give away every podcast between now and Christmas. All you have to do is email us an idea for the podcast to 777@flightpodcast.com. It’s in Perth, Australia, so you’ll have to make your own way there. If you live in Perth, please let us know in your email to us.

Boeing 777 Flight City, Perth

flight city sim flight city sim flight city sim

We’ll be talking to Richard from Flight City in an upcoming episode

Next week: John King

John King of King Schools has been an aviation safety advocate all his flying life. He and Martha have had a hand in training 50% of the pilots in the USA in one way or another. We talk to John about the ‘potholes’ in aviation safety, risk management and a range of other general aviation topics.

Flight Podcast “Extras”

You may remember that we promised additional audio for Eric Moody and Andy Thorley. Well, we haven’t forgotten – it’s coming soon… but we have changed our style of editing so we can get it to you sooner. If you’re interested in a little more of our Bo Corby interview, you can download it here or play it below.. The audio includes the full unedited audio of Alan Joyce and John Travolta.

Episode 4 Extras:

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Adverts &/or Promos played for:

Podcasters’ Emporium
Flaps Podcast
Flight City

Audio Index

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00:00:00 – Introduction
00:01:17 – Bo Corby Introduction
00:01:46 – Bo Corby & NWA Flight 41
00:43:18 – Intermission! Flaps Podcast Promo
00:45:38 – Bo Corby Resumes
00:51:20 – Podcasters Emporium Promo | Advert: FlightCity.com.au
00:52:21 – Post Bo Corby Discussion & Questions
01:18:36 – End of Bo Corby Discussion
01:18:36 – John King Promo
01:21:52 – Ken thanking Bo
01:22:24 – IT/EFB Symposium Singapore
01:24:21 – QF32 Uncontained Engine Failure
   →   01:25:02  QF32 Captain’s in-flight cabin announcement
   →   01:29:05  Alan Joyce (QF CEO) Press Conference
   →   01:30:14  John Travolta (QF Press Conference)
01:33:02 – Exit
01:34:52 – Disclaimer
01:35:15 – Bloopers
01:37:25 – End

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Category: Podcast Episodes

Comments (22)

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  1. Marty says:

    I have to apologise for the inconsistency in sound quality from time-to-time. We worked on a number of different microphones so we could finally decide on how to rationalise our equipment. We’ll all be on the PR40’s from the next episode. I hope you enjoy Bo’s fascinating story. Thanks all.

  2. […] FLIGHT PODCASTEpisode 4: Bo Corby & NWA Flight 41 into TehranOn June 19, 2005 at 0435 in the morning Tehran local time, Northwest Airlines Flight 41 made an […]

  3. Ron Byrne says:

    Fabulous podcast everybody. Am I the only person that laughed every single time I heard Bo say ‘Jerry Maguire’?
    My wife is a FA so I appreciated the recognition Bo gave to their efforts in this or any other crisis.
    Cheers. Ron.

  4. Warren Wilson says:

    Congraulations on another great podcast. Nice extras. Nice bloopers. Can’t wait for John King.

  5. Max Flight says:

    Fantastic episode!

    One [non-aviation] takeaway from the Flight 41 experience is the importance of understanding other cultures and perspectives. I don’t care who you are, you are not number one – you are just different.

    I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen business people visiting customers in other countries and don’t have a clue what they are doing. In business, you have to understand and respect the other perspective. If you are a tourist the same thing applies. If you are in a difficult situation like the crew of Flight 41 found themselves, its critical.

    If people were more introspective of the differences between us, we’d all get along a lot better. IMHO.

    Anyway, thanks for an outstanding episode and congratulations on the Heil mics. Great sound. Give them gain and get in close!



  6. Marty says:

    Thanks very much Max. There’s a little bit about the cultural divides in the extras but, you’re absolutely right, it’s not just about pilots. Part of the reason Bo was so successful, and the reason tourists are successful in different circumstances, is that they tailor their style of communication and behaviour to illicit the most from people (and themselves).

    We’ve played around with the mixer/mics and we’ve finally found a good sound.

  7. Jeff Faulks says:

    You guys are awesome. There are other podcasts in Aus that overstep their bounds by talking about subject matter they know nothing about. The four of you (or three, where was Adam?) really know what you’re doing. I’m as interested in what you are all saying in addition to your wonderful guests.

    I note that Bo is no longer working at NWA and he left the airline what seems like less than 12 months after the incident. Did this incident have anything to do with his departure?

    Has a US commercial airliner landed in Iran since Bo’s incident in 2005?

    I’m really looking forward to John King.

    • Marty says:

      Hi Jeff. Bo left NWA at retirement age although he continues to fly for a family in Seattle as their corporate pilot; the incident had nothing to do with his departure.

      Bo remains, to this day, the captain of the only US airliner to have flown into Iran since 1979. Thanks for your comment.

  8. […] a download to some extras on the Flight Podcast blog and full audio of Captain Bo Corby’s story of Flight 41 into Tehran, Iran […]

  9. Paul Tibbles says:

    What a fabulous podcast. Bo told everything in such detail, I could literally picture it all as he described it. Fantastic story which I had never heard of before, brilliantly described by an equally brilliant captain and a fantastic crew. Simply the best podcast yet. Well done all.

  10. Pieter says:

    What a fantastic listen. I felt towards the end of podcast that Bo was highly critical of NWA’s response to the incident. Karlene made a comment and Bo jumped in to clarify that ‘nobody knew about it’. I must say that I’m surprised that such a high profile incident was kept under the radar and undocumented for such a long time. You have all done a wonderful job in finally telling the story that many of us have wondered over for years. For me, listening to your podcast was like finally watching a movie that I’d waited 5 years for. I expected it to be good but had no idea that it would be brilliant.

    As an aviation historian I thank you for making such a wonderful record.

    Keep us the magnificent work. You are all fantastic.

  11. Marion Kruse says:

    Would Iran of kept the aircraft and seriously detained American citizens? It’s a magnificent story, and like most tales of its kind, it leaves me with a bunch of “what if” questions. Bo certainly knew what he was doing and demonstrates the kind of professionalism inside and outside the cockpit that we always hope for from our flight crew. You’ve done a great job on both the podcast and the detailed shownotes. As with Paul Tibbles, I could literally picture what was going on by accompanying the audio with your images. Now it’s time to listen to it all over again :)

  12. Jo says:

    What a gripping story, was hooked to listen from the first few words, professionals who took a decision to land the plane for the safety of their passengers. Glad all worked out in the end. They are the kind of crew I would like to fly with, putting safety first.

  13. Richard Murphy (ricmur) says:

    This is a MUST LISTEN for any pilot. Well done on the best interview I’ve heard on the subject and, for that matter, the best ever interview with John King. You’ve done a great job of relating aspects of aviation that not many of us think about but should. As pilots and fellow instructors, you have managed to find a unique way of relating these principles in a way that our students will understand. Great job on your exceptional contribution to aviation safety.

    • Marty says:

      Thanks Richard. You’ve posted in the wrong thread… but at least we know you listened to Bo as well. We’ve had about 30,000 listens so far, making our most popular episode to date – for good reason. Thanks for your comments.

  14. Adam737 says:

    What a truly fascinating listen. There’s so much to be learned from this audio for pilots AND passengers. It would be great if you could have Bo on another time to talk about some of his other adventures.

  15. […] is a rather lengthy podcast as well that I am planning on listening at some point this weekend. http://www.flightpodcast.com/episode…41-into-tehran __________________ My travel pictures | My […]

  16. The discussion is great for use as a training tool in demonstrating the cultural variances and subtle changes we must make when communicating with people in foreign ports. Thanks for sharing the great story.

  17. Jessie Fraser says:

    Brilliant story. Every professional pilot should listen. Period.

  18. Charlie Bechara says:

    Hi “mates”. I really respect the work and effort you guys have done with this program. I can’t believe this is the first time I heard this story.

  19. Dennis says:

    I sat down to see what this internet podcast thing was all about expecting to listen for 10 minutes and turn it off. As it so happened, I listened to it twice and can’t express how much I enjoyed it. I found Captain Corby’s story to be very insightful, and you presented it in such a way that it challenged my political views and understanding of Iran. You deliver the program in a manner that even somebody like me can enjoy/understand while at the same time you express yourselves as the kind of professional people we all hope to have in the cockpit of our flights. You can tell your boss I’ll be flying Virgin on my next holiday to America and its all your doing. I might check out the simulator in Perth too.

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