by Michael Crichton

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of Jurassic Park, Timeline, and Sphere comes this extraordinary thriller about airline safety, business intrigue, and a deadly cover-up.
“The pacing is fast, the suspense nonstop.”—People
Three passengers are dead. Fifty-six are injured. The interior cabin is virtually destroyed. But the pilot manages to land the plane.

At a moment when the issue of safety and death in the skies is paramount in the public mind, a lethal midair disaster aboard a commercial twin-jet airliner flying from Hong Kong to Denver triggers a pressured and frantic investigation.

Airframe is nonstop reading, full of the extraordinary mixture of super suspense and authentic information on a subject of compelling interest that are the hallmarks of Michael Crichton.
“A one-sitting read that will cause a lifetime of white-knuckled nightmares.”—The Philaelphia Inquirer
“The ultimate thriller . . . [Crichton’s] stories are always page-turners of the highest order. . . . [Airframe] moves like a firehouse dog chasing a red truck.”—The Denver Post
“Dramatically vivid.”—The New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345526779
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/22/2011
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 95,322
Product dimensions: 7.44(w) x 4.16(h) x 1.08(d)

About the Author

Michael Crichton was a writer, director, and producer, best known as the author of Jurassic Park and the creator of ER. One of the most recognizable names in literature and entertainment, Crichton sold more than 200 million copies of his books, which have been translated into 40 languages and adapted into 15 films. He died in 2008.


Los Angeles, California

Date of Birth:

October 23, 1942

Date of Death:

November 4, 2008

Place of Birth:

Chicago, Illinois

Place of Death:

Los Angeles, California


B.A.. in Anthropology, Harvard University, 1964; M.D., Harvard Medical School, 1969

Read an Excerpt

Airframe Chapter 3

5:57 a.m.

Daniel Greene was the duty officer at the FAA Flight Standards District Office on Imperial Highway, half a mile from LAX. The local FSDOs—or Fizdos, as they were called—supervised the flight operations of commercial carriers, checking everything from aircraft maintenance to pilot training. Greene had come in early to clear the paper off his desk; his secretary had quit the week before, and the office manager refused to replace her, citing orders from Washington to absorb attrition. So now Greene went to work, muttering. Congress was slashing the FAA budget, telling them to do more with less, pretending the problem was productivity and not workload. But passenger traffic was up four percent a year, and the commercial fleet wasn't getting younger. The combination made for a lot more work on the ground. Of course, the FSDOs weren't the only ones who were strapped. Even the NTSB was broke; the Safety Board only got a million dollars a year for aircraft accidents, and—

The red phone on his desk rang, the emergency line. He picked it up; it was a woman at traffic control.

"We've just been informed of an incident on an inbound foreign carrier," she said.

"Uh-huh." Greene reached for a notepad. "Incident" had a specific meaning to the FAA, referring to the lower category of flight problems that carriers were required to report. "Accidents" involved deaths or structural damage to the aircraft and were always serious, but with incidents, you never knew. "Go ahead."

"It's TransPacific Flight 545, incoming from Hong Kong to Denver. Pilot's requested emergency landing at LAX. Says they encountered turbulence during flight."

"Is the plane airworthy?"

"They say it is," Levine said. "They've got injuries, and they've requested forty ambulances."


"They've also got two stiffs."

"Great." Greene got up from his desk. "When's it due in?"

"Eighteen minutes."

"Eighteen minutes—Jeez, why am I getting this so late?"

"Hey, the captain just told us, we're telling you. I've notified EMS and alerted the fire crews."

"Fire crews? I thought you said the plane's okay."

"Who knows?" the woman said. "The pilot is not making much sense. Sounds like he might be in shock. We hand off to the tower in seven minutes."

"Okay," Greene said. "I'm on my way."

He grabbed his badge and his cell phone and went out the door. As he passed Karen, the receptionist, he said, "Have we got anybody at the international terminal?"

"Kevin's there."

"Beep him," Greene said. "Tell him to get on TPA 545, inbound Hong Kong, landing in fifteen. Tell him to stay at the gate—and don't let the flight crew leave."

"Got it," she said, reaching for the phone.

Greene roared down Sepulveda Boulevard toward the airport. Just before the highway ran beneath the runway, he looked up and saw the big TransPacific Airlines widebody, identifiable by its bright yellow tail insignia, taxiing toward the gate. TransPacific was a Hong Kong-based charter carrier. Most of the problems the FAA had with foreign airlines occurred with charters. Many were low-budget operators that didn't match the rigorous safety standards of the scheduled carriers. But TransPacific had an excellent reputation.

At least the bird was on the ground, Greene thought. And he couldn't see any structural damage to the widebody. The plane was an N-22, built by Norton Aircraft in Burbank. The plane had been in revenue service five years, with an enviable dispatch and safety record.

Greene stepped on the gas and rushed into the tunnel, passing beneath the giant aircraft.

He sprinted through the international building. Through the windows, he saw the TransPacific jet pulled up to the gate, and the ambulances lined up on the concrete below. The first of them was already driving out, its siren whining.

Greene came to the gate, flashed his badge, and ran down the ramp. Passengers were disembarking, pale and frightened. Many limped, their clothes torn and bloody. On each side of the ramp, paramedics clustered around the injured.

As he neared the plane, the nauseating odor of vomit grew stronger. A frightened TransPac stewardess pushed him back at the door, chattering at him rapidly in Chinese. He showed her his badge and said, "FAA! Official business! FAA!" The stewardess stepped back, and Greene slid past a mother clutching an infant and stepped into the plane.

He looked at the interior, and stopped. "Oh my God," he said softly. "What happened to this plane?"

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Airframe 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 208 reviews.
petersnoopy More than 1 year ago
Michael Crichton has yert produced antoher great book, yet not of his best. The plot is great and okay to follow, but isn't the techno-thriller sci-fi you would expect. FFor someone looking for techincal excitment this is a great buy. For those looking for a page-turner and captavating thriller, not so much.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When a Norton wide-body jet experiences an in-flight emergency that kills three people and injures many more, the manufacturer's Incident Review Team gears up for action. Casey Singleton, a recently promoted business unit manager who's the Quality Assurance representative on that team, knows almost immediately that it wasn't turbulence. The press, though, accepts that explanation as offered by the plane's flight crew. After all, what makes for a more dramatic story than a greedy corporation's attempted coverup of its unsafe aircraft? Casey knows that this is a dangerous time for Norton managers to be poking around the production areas. With a major sale of the company's airframes to an overseas market pending, a labor dispute reaching the boiling point, and a mysterious conflict going on at the topmost management level, anything can happen. But the divorced mother who started her own career with Norton on the production line believes she can keep herself safe - and even if she can't, she's still going to find out what really happened on that flight. AIRFRAME has its slow passages, but it also offers crackling and well-sustained suspense. Its characters are well drawn, and its resolution manages to be surprising, logical, and poignant - all at the same time.
Dauphinais More than 1 year ago
The book of Airframe is one of Michael Crichtons best novels that I have read. The story is very interesting and if you like mystery novels this is one of them. It will pull you in. You do not find out what the cause of the accident is untill the end. A great book. I hope you enjoy.
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lrb83 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed Airframe. It is about an incident on a commercial airline and its aftermath. From different points of view (e.g., Casey, a vice president at the company that manufactured the aircraft; Jennifer, a power-hungry reporter) you see different players trying to determine what went wrong. The plot is firmly focused on this incident from a technical point of view--there definitely is a lot of jargon and technical language, but Crichton always finds ways to explain it clearly. There are some subplots that are not at all well flushed-out (a suspicious assistant, an alcoholic ex husband) and unfortunately don't do too much for the book.In my opinion, for a brief Crichton comparison, I found Airframe to be immensely better than Next, but not as good as Jurassic Park or Timeline.It was a quick and light read, and it was interesting to learn a little bit about commercial aircraft production and corporate issues. Though I wouldn't call it suspenseful necessarily, there was a driving plot that kept me wanting to know what would happen next--Crichton keeps your curiosity going.
govindraj.umarji on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the more brilliant works by Crichton. In this book, he describes the story of an organization called Norton, which manufactures Airframes, which is the body of the aircraft. The protagonist is an employee of the organization, who receives a lot of flak for the perceived non-performance of her company's product. What follows is a thrilling journey through the world of aircraft manufacturing and aircraft carriers and the media.
andyray on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
i feel sorry for those who read for the thrill and cannot stand learning something. in this well-paced story the reader learns just about every detail of the huge modern jet-liner and that is quite a feat in itself. crighton's characters are not memorable (unless they are transformed into film), but the story is solid and i turned the pages to finish this in a record three nights.
laur04 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My entire family loves Michael Cricton books. He's the legend who created Jurrasic Park and other books that have become blockbusters. I've also seen Timeline, which was based on the book by Michael Crichton. So I guess you could say I was expecting a lot from this book. However, I was left disappointed. The begginng effectively hooked the reader by descrbibing an "action packed" scene in an airplane that was undergoing serious "turbulence" which killed four people. The rest of the book dealt with the mystery of why this airplane would flucuate because there was no turbulance that day. The main character (Casey Singelton) works for the airplane company and is head of this mystery. The book is filled with uninteresting, technical airplane jargon, which only serve to confuse the reader. The author even had to add a character with no experience with airplanes just to clue the reader in. When the twist came at the end, it involved one of the printouts of airplane reports. This report had information that I didn't understand, so I skipped over it. So I never would have guessed the turnout. The whole point of a mystery is to try and figure out the ending. This book was entirely too long. I felt as if I could have read the first and last few chapters and still have gotten the same story. The middle section was filled with uninteresting airplane lingo and events that didn't add to the story line. Overall, I would not recommend this book. I found it boring and not worth while. After reading the middle section, the reader is expecting a big twist, but is let down.
LaroyH on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Airframe by Michael Crichton, I like this book because Michael really describes everything very well, like when he introduces the main character Casey and the job she does. It is really interesting how he goes about telling the proses of an airplane accident and how it is solved. The plot line of the book is really interesting to and puts thing into reality for instance, when Casey sees Richard's car, she tells him to get an American made car the workers on the floor wont like seeing that in the parking lot. Later Casey get a threat call and there are people outside of her house she thinks they are going to come into the house and kill her but they are guards making sure she is safe. That was really scary for me when that happened because i have never ever thought about it and how it can really change your life. Also when someone on the floor (where the planes are made) went after Casey because they thought she was putting the company on the edge and basically ending it. Another thing i liked about Airframe was how you thought you know what was going to happen next and things were going to be fine and then boom it was just a minor part of a huge plan that you never was coming. That is why i liked airframe.
StBu0404 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another great book from Michael Crichton where a plane suddenly has terrible turbulence, which causes many injuries, and the maker of the plane has to investigate to see what caused the problems. A great mystery.
bell7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
After a mysterious airplane accident involving several injuries and even death occurs, Casey Singleton, divorced mother and rising star in the Norton Aircraft company, must head up the investigation of why this happened. In a field that is as complicated as the airframe industry, it can be a nightmare trying to deal with a press that just wants the "video at 11," and Casey is also given the unwelcome task of liaison with the media.The story is typical Crichton: some technical details, but a relentlessly-paced story with lots of dialog and little character development. The mystery of what happened on Flight 545 and the troubles Casey has with the union over a possible China deal keep you on the edge of your seat. Personally, I would have liked getting to know the characters a little more, which is the main reason I didn't love it. Still, a solid thriller with a pacing that keeps you turning pages late at night.
kayceel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was published in 1996, and boy, does it show. I was a bit bored by this story, especially since I figured out what happened AGES before the main character did, and waiting for her and others to figure it out was agonizing. There were also a few storylines that didn't quite make sense, and never were tied in - made me wonder what the point (aside from adding a few tense "Oh, is she gonna die" moments) was in including those scenes.
OccamsHammer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Just okay. Does not go into the technical detail like Andromeda Strain. No crazy alien artifacts or fantastic scientific ideas. Airplane has turbulence, main character investigates, media exploits, big conspiracy revealed. Could really benefit from a surprise dinosaur attack at the end.
Omrythea on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lots of technical talk, but still an interesting read.
LouCypher on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A big airplane deal with the chinese looming in the distant and a problem abored a Norton-22 causes a few fatalities and 56 injuries jeopardizing the sale. Follow the intrigue as the mystery as to how this happend unfolds.Classic Crichton picking a topic and showing a side no one ever thinks to look at. I really enjoyed it although some spots get a little technical for a little too long. Overall good solid read.
Cygnus555 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not the best Crichton... but having been involved in incident investigations, I found it to be intriguing and true to life. You have to respect the level of research that Michael puts behind his books. Even if you don't totally buy what is being said, he at least has the data to support his position.
detailmuse on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A typical high-tech thriller with stereotypical, cardboard characters. Loads of content about aeronautical engineering. Crichton keeps the reader up-to-the-minute with what the characters know until the last 1/5 of the book, then switches to exclude the reader (probably to build suspense). :( I wouldn¿t recommend the novel because its technology is outdated and its airline-safety issues provide shallow intrigue compared to those of today. But it was fun to peek back to the mid-`90s when the book was written, and be reminded of the state of personal communications just before the real leap into cell phones and Internet/email. And it was satisfying to see Crichton rail against the media -- especially the ultra-produced, network ¿news¿-magazines (which have only gotten worse in the decade since).
lilygirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Marvelous book that kept astonishing and exasperating me by turn.... but it was always the pleasant frustration found in the actions of characters that we wish would act different ways. I loved the technical talk that made me feel as though I had been brought directly into the world. It also reminded me of Feynman's investigation into the Challenger disaster.
dbeyer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was painful to read. It is slow paced, preachy, and just...boring. At the time, it seemed like such a huge departure from the typical Crichton fare such as Sphere and Congo and the wonderful Jurassic Park. Ask yourself this, would you want to read a novel about the inner workings of the airline industry and the moral corruptness of the media? Because that's all you get, plus a full on technical explanation of the mechanics of a commercial jet. This book began Michael Crichton's trend towards political and moral preachings in his books, which is now his staple. Lame. It gets one star because, despite all my critcisms, he technically writes very well.
AshRyan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Based on the plot blurb on the jacket, this didn't sound like one of Crichton's best novels, so I put off reading it for years. Now I wish I hadn't. Airframe stands up with his best. A story of corporate politics, union violence, bureaucratic b.s., and media responsibility (or the lack thereof), Airframe weaves all of these elements into a seamless whole.Casey Singleton is a single mom, and a vice-president of quality assurance at Norton, one of the world's top (and few remaining) manufacturers of airframes (i.e., the body of an airplane, but not the engines). With a terrible but inexplicable accident threatening to upset a vital deal, it's up to her to get to the bottom of what actually happened in order to prove that the model of the plane is safe and reliable. But the union, afraid that jobs are going to be outsourced, will go to any lengths to stop the deal, and that means derailing Casey's investigation. Plus, it seems like there may be someone in upper management working against her as well. On top of all this, Casey is appointed as the company's liaison with the media about the incident. Can she deal with a violent union, back-stabbing co-workers, irresponsible journalists, senseless bureaucracy, and still solve the mystery in time?As usual, Crichton puts in enough technical detail to make the story seem hyper-real, but not quite enough to bore the reader with minutiae entirely irrelevant to the story. And unlike some of his more science-fictiony stuff, this novel is firmly in the realism camp, along with some of his other better novels (Disclosure and The Great Train Robbery come to mind).A couple of minor drawbacks: Some of the characters are a bit thinly drawn, for instance the upper-level management of the company, whom Crichton portrays as very hard workers in a sort of vague way but who we otherwise have no idea how they got where they are. And he treats some of his subject matter a bit inconsistently, for instance having a character who appears to be speaking for the author insist that federal regulation is the only way to ensure that corporations make safe products, but then showing regulatory agencies basically just getting in the way with a bunch of useless red tape and showing very clearly that the company's real motivation to put out a safe product is so they can actually sell it and make money off of it and not go out of business and all be out of jobs.But these are fairly minor issues in the novel. Overall, it's a great read, and I highly recommend it.
06nwingert on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was a bit on an idiot an read this on an airplane ride and was scared to fly for several months. (Normally, I can read horror books without them affecting me.) The description of the plane after the accident is still a vivid image in my mind.
santhony on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Typical Crichton thriller. Take a scientific topic and build a novel around it, entertaining and educating at the same time. He has produced better, but this is certainly not a bad book.
FKarr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
all plot, no character- & even the plot is weak