Engineering Failure Episodes

Ep 55 Breast Implant Recalls

Our first medical engineering failure. In an effort to cut costs, PIP cut corners on the silicone in their breast implants that led to severe problems for recipients starting in 2003.

Ep 54 Big Bayou Canot Rail Accident

Big Bayou Canot became the second worst US rail disaster after a towboat hit a bridge resulting in extensive damage. The ensuing investigation offered a number of important lessons learned and recommendations.

Ep 53 Gimli Glider

This week we're taking a much needed break and featuring one of our mini failure episodes from last fall; the Gimli Glider. Unit are hard, but important. An incorrect conversion led to the plane taking off with only 45% of its required fuel.

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Ep 52 Luna Park Ghost Train Fire

43 years ago, the Luna Park Ghost Train suffered a catastrophic fire. Even though it was inspected two years earlier, in 1977, the recommended upgrades weren’t complete and the fire investigation found many other safety flaws.

Ep 51 Teton Dam Failure

The dam catastrophically failed during its initial fill leading to assessments of other similar dams.

Ep 50 SPECIAL James Webb Space Telescope

The telescope took decades to build, but it was worth it because it has a lot of really interesting features.

Ep 49 Florida Pedestrian Bridge Collapse

The bridge collapsed during construction with traffic on the roadway underneath. The collapse led to investigations by the National Transportation Safety Board and the US Department of Labor.

Ep 48 L'Ambiance Plaza

L'Ambiance Plaza collapsed during construction while the slabs were being lifted into place. There is not a consensus on the probable cause of this failure; some think that the failure was related to the method of construction and others think there were flaws with the engineered design.

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Ep 47 Piper Alpha

A deep sea oil rig that exploded and sank in the North Sea.

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Ep 46 Second Narrows Bridge

The cantilever bridge collapsed during construction, with an unexpected cause.

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Ep 45 Kowloon Walled City

A city within a city, Kowloon had a deep history in Hong Kong until it was demolished in 1994.


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Ep 44 Challenger Space Shuttle

73 seconds after take off, the Challenger Space Shuttle exploded on live TV.


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Ep 43 Harbor Cay Condo Construction Failure

During the concrete pour of the roof slab, the Harbor Cay Condo building collapsed in a pancaking fashion. While there was a main cause of failure, there were several contributing factors.


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Ep 42 United Flight 232

After catastrophic failure of the plane's tail engine, United Flight 232 made an emergency landing two hours after take off.


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Ep 41 Three Mile Island

Three Mile Island Unit 2 suffered a partial meltdown after running for only three months. This accident changed the fate of nuclear energy in North America for decades.


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Ep 40 SPECIAL CN Tower

The CN Tower opened 46 years ago after overcoming some pretty interesting engineering and construction issues. We get into all of the challenges and how they tackled them on this episode.


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Ep 39 Lake Peigneur and Cantara Loop

This week's episode features a sneak peek at two of our favourite bonus mini failure episodes.

The first mini failure we are sharing with you is Lake Peignuer in Louisiana (1:55). The entire lake drained into an underground salt mine in a matter of minutes.


And the second Mini Failure is about the Cantara Loop rail disaster (9:40). In the '90s a train derailed into the Sacramento River on a very challenging section of track.


Check out our new Patreon page for more Mini Failure bonus episodes - https://www.patreon.com/failurology


More Info - Ep 39 Bonus Mini Failures

Ep 38 Charles de Gaulle Airport Collapse

On May 23, 2004 an 11 month old section of the brand new airport terminal collapsed and left a 50m by 30m hole in the building. The official investigation found problems with the process and structural engineering; the collapse was inevitable.

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Ep 37 2003 NE Blackout

It was a really hot day in August 2003. With lots of air conditioners running, some overgrown trees and a software bug, power was knocked out to a large portion of the NE United States and Ontario.

More Info - Ep 37 2003 NE Blackout

Ep 36 A Year In Review

This week Nicole and Brian are celebrating the 1 year anniversary of Failurology! They are talking about all of the things they've learned over the last year, how the show has changed, and some of their favourite episodes.

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Ep 35 Leaning Tower of Pisa

What started out as just a bell tower, is now known worldwide for its iconic lean. The tower taught us a lot about geotechnical, civil and structural engineering and has been a tourist attraction to millions of people every year. Even though they straightened the tower, the people of Pisa are happy it still leans.

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Ep 34 Apollo 1

A fire broke out on Apollo 1 during a pre-launch test. There were a number of contributing factors that led to the fire and poor rescue effort.

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Ep 33 Arecibo Telescope

The Arecibo Telescope Collapse, designed in the 1960s, accomplished a lot for science until its collapse in 2020. NASA investigated the failure and issued a report of findings earlier this year. But the silver lining, some cool things are being worked on for the future of the site.


More Info - Ep 33 Arecibo Telescope

Ep 32 The Big O

The Big O, also known as Montreal Olympic Stadium, was supposed to be the highlight of the first self-financed Olympic games. But poor planning, fraud, corruption and a freewheeling architect put a blemish on the games and Montreal's skyline for decades. Over 45 years later, Montreal is still paying for it, literally.


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Ep 31 Transatlantic Telegraph Cable Failure

The effort to construct the first telegraph cable across the Atlantic started in the late 1850s. It didn't quite go as planned, but they eventually installed a functional cable.


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Ep 30 SPECIAL Panama Canal

Every tenth episode we're covering an engineering marvel! The Panama Canal is one of the American Society of Civil Engineer's seven wonders of the modern world. And it was one of the largest engineering feats ever taken.


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Ep 29 Kursk Submarine Disaster

A Russian submarine sank during a naval training exercise. Yes, submarines can sink too.


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Ep 28 Floating Bridges of Washington State

Washington state is the floating bridge capital of the world. But two of them sank.


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Ep 27 de Havilland Comet

The Comet, the world's first jet airliner, had some successes. But, it never recovered from a series of catastrophic hull loss accidents. Find out what happened.


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Ep 26 Folsom Dam Gate Failure

On July 17, 1995, while opening the spillway gates, the structure of gate 3 buckled and the gate swung open; sending a rush of water down the river.


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Ep 25 Deepwater Horizon

On April 20, 2010, the deepwater offshore drilling rig suffered a well blowout that caused an explosion, The rig sank two days later.


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Ep 24 Eindhoven Airport Car Park Collapse

On May 27, 2017, one month before completion a section of the structure collapsed. A poorly planned change in construction method was to blame.


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Ep 23 Burnaby Supermarket Roof Collapse

On April 23, 1988, minutes after the grand opening, the rooftop parking deck collapsed into the produce section.


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Ep 22 West Gate Bridge Collapse

On October 15, 1970, a span of the West Gate Bridge collapsed during construction.


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Ep 21 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

On March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire became one of the deadliest industrial disasters in US history.


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Ep 20 SPECIAL Channel Tunnel

Every tenth episode of the podcast is about an engineering marvel. The Channel Tunnel is one of the seven civil engineering marvels of the world.

More Info - Ep 20 SPECIAL The Channel Tunnel

Ep 19 Dieselgate

Volkswagen cheated emissions testing for years.


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Ep 18 The Hancock Tower

In the 1970s, the construction of the John Hancock Tower in Boston experienced a number of issues with structure and glass.


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Ep 17 Hindenburg Disaster

On May 6, 1937, the Hindenburg caught fire while trying to land.


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Ep 16 Sunshine Skyway Bridge Collapse

On May 9, 1980, a freighter collided with the bridge during a sudden squall.


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Ep 15 Podcast Origin Story

I answer listener questions about how and why I make this podcast.


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Ep 14 Sampoong Department Store Collapse

On June 29, 1995 ,the Sampoong department store collapsed.


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Ep 13 Chernobyl Explosion

On April 26, 1986, reactor no 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded.


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Ep 12 Flint Water Crisis

Flint residents were poisoned by their water supply for years.


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Ep 11 Titanic

On April 15, 1912, the Titanic sunk in the middle of the Atlantic after colliding with an iceberg.


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Ep 10 SPECIAL International Space Station

Every tenth episode of the podcast is about an engineering marvel. The International Space Station is a huge engineering and human accomplishment.


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Ep 09 Air France 447 Crash

On June 1, 2009, AF447 stalled and could not recover, crashing into the Atlantic in the middle of the night.


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Ep 08 Malahide Viaduct Collapse

On August 21, 2009, a section of the viaduct collapsed seconds after a train passed over the viaduct.


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Ep 07 Hartford Arena Roof Collapse

On January 18, 1978, the entire roof of the arena collapsed; luckily the building was empty at the time.


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Ep 06 Quebec Bridge Collapse

The bridge that collapsed twice; first on August 29, 1907, and again on September 11, 1916.


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Ep 05 Ford Pinto

Cars aren't supposed to explode when rear ended.


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Ep 04 Grenfell Tower Fire

On June 14, 2017, a fire broke out on the 24 story tower, quickly spreading to the external cladding and engulfing the building.


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Ep 03 Hyatt Regency Walkway Collapse

On July 17, 1981, two stacked walkways in the hotel lobby collapsed during a tea party.


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Ep 02 New Orleans Levee Failures During Hurricane Katrina

On August 29, 2005, over 50 levee failures occurred in and around New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina made landfall.


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Ep 01 Citicorp Building

In 1978, one year after the building opened, the structural engineer realized he has made a grave error in the wind calculations and the building was at risk of collapse during a 1 in 16 year storm.


More Info - Ep 01 Citicorp