Another drop tower rope break!

While searching for more news on this, I came across a thread on another website that details another cable failure on the same Drop ride at Port Aventura on November 2006.

I would post a link to it here, but I know Jeff forbids links to other coaster messageboards.

--George H

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I can't think of companies that come close to having as many accidents that the manufacturer will blame on these human errors as this company.

How about Ford?



Ah, I missed Rideman's post, or rather, I read it quickly and misunderstood it. I thought he was saying that Intamin won't help investigations and always blame things on human error. I didn't quite get that he was saying they think they are infallible and don't create good enough safety precaution devices. Hrrrrmmm...I still ride 'em, but thinking about it too much gives me the willies. Hehehehe...

As for Six Flags, I was trying to start a discussion about this one day: Does Six Flags just seem to have more accidents because they are a proportionately larger company and thus would have a higher amounts of accidents just because the odds are stacked in their favor (against their favor?)? Is it that they are such a big name chain that they get more press when they do have a bad accident? Is it just bad luck? If you think about all the rides (yes, mostly Intamins...I'll give you that) that have caused fatal/life-altering amusement park accidents lately, they've mostly all been at Six Flags. Two people died on ROS's, the Lassiter girl gets her feet it the training that they give? Is it Intamin? I don't know about any of this...I still go to Six Flags, and I can't say that I'm totally satisfied with them due to some small things I saw that made me a little concerned (nothing big, but most of the rides just looked more than a little more worn than I'm used to, and they ran their safety checks on empty cars with the belts opened...I don't know if that's normal or not so I can't comment on that for sure), but I feel much safer at a Cedar Fair park. Hrrrm....I don't really think that Six Flags parks are decidely unsafe, but it's just something that I've noticed and wondered about.

I'll still take a B&M coaster over Intamin any day for feeling secure, and I definitely think Intamin needs to start thinking about what they can do to make these rides, as you so succinctly put it, idiot proof, but I've gotta say it...I love El Toro. :) I just always make sure I'm stapled in that seat. ;) *** Edited 6/11/2008 5:06:56 AM UTC by bunky666***

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IntaminHater said:
The area where Intamin needs to become liable is the fact that so many of these errors are allowed to happen on these rides. The manufacturer needs to be taking into account human error and designing rides to limit or eliminate the possibility of human error. Basically they should be making these rides idiot proof outside of extreme foul play.

I can't think of companies that come close to having as many accidents that the manufacturer will blame on these human errors as this company. Most other companies are adding devices to detect and prevent errors from becoming an issue.

I am willing to bet that the reason there was no accident here was result of what happened at SFKK. After the accident a year ago, many Intamin drop towers were fitted with a sensor to detect a snapped cable, and stop the ride if there is such an occurrence. This is a device that Six Flags came out last year saying the manufacturer should have had in place already. The device is one that makes the difference between a girl loosing her feet, and people being stuck on a ride for an hour. Had the ride been properly designed with this safety feature in the first place, there wouldn't be much of an issue.

Wait wait wait. That post made no sense.

You say, "Most other companies are adding devices to detect and prevent errors from becoming an issue." But that's exactly what Intamin did!

Many of you all are missing a KEY point to the story; THE DEVICE WORKED!

After the SFKK accident, cable-sensors were placed on drop towers all around the world (By Intamin's demand) that would automatically stop the ride if a cable were to break, hopefully preventing another terrible accident.

So...when this tower's cable snapped, the censor detected it, and the ride stopped. Everyone was fine. The issue was resolved, and now we should all be safe. So what's the problem here?

*** Edited 6/11/2008 5:45:45 AM UTC by DantheCoasterman***

Actually, it is possible that some of the later drop towers had switches or other devices which might have detected a rope failure even before the Kentucky Kingdom incident. Remember that Kentucky Kingdom had the very first ride of this kind.

But let's step back a bit for a moment. Danthe has a good point: "When this tower's cable snapped, the censor detected it, and the ride stopped. Everyone was fine. The issue was resolved, and now we should all be safe. So what's the problem here?"

What's the problem? The problem is that an Intamin drop tower suffered a catastrophic failure in operation of one of its hoisting ropes. We have in our possession a report from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture which describes in great detail the circumstances leading up to the catastrophic failure of the ride at Kentucky Kingdom. The KDA did a thorough investigation, even to the point of bringing in experts to handle those portions of the investigation which were beyond their own competency. After an exhaustive look at the facts of the case, the KDA concluded that the Kentucky Kingdom ride was improperly or inadequately maintained and that the operator could have possibly mitigated that incident by E-stopping the ride ten seconds earlier. It's right there in the KDA report; you can look it up with a single mouse click, and if you can look it up, so can anybody else with a computer. And you can be @#$! sure that anybody who has one of these drop towers has done exactly that. Anyone who has one of these towers is certainly following the best available information on inspecting and maintaining the hoist ropes.

And yet, another one has failed. Does PortAventura have an inadequate maintenance program on their drop tower? Or is something else going on here?

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Not just that Dave, but another question needs to be asked - did Intamin tell their other customers who bought a Drop Tower '2.0' about the 2006 cable failure at Port Aventura?

Now there has been three cable failures in just over 1.5 years...

Also, DantheCoasterman, where was it posted that an AUTOMATIC sensor that shut down the ride at Aventura? All it says at RideAccidents is "The ride's emergency stop system was engaged..."

And for DanTheCoasterman and IntaminHater...your comments about Intamin installing automatic cable failure detectors - I do not recall hearing about this - can you provide a link to back this statement up?

--George H

FWIW, I believe the information posted on is based on an eyewitness account (and photos) sent directly to the web site. Note that we still haven't seen any news coverage on this one. For that reason, as George points out, we don't know *why* the Port Aventura ride stopped (that is, whether it was system-initiated or operator-initiated); we just know that it did.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

And thank God it did.

Loopy - who's just not quite loopy enough to ride an Intamin drop tower.

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Anyway, if we go back to the findings from the KDA report on the Kentucky Kingdom mishap, the major issue there was that the rope was lacking in lubrication, which was probably part of the reason it deteriorated quickly to the point of failure.

I just read the KDA summary report. I missed this; is it in one of the Appendices, perhaps?

Rideman you are correct, we do not know if it was initiated by the system, or by the operator. I would hope that it was system initiated, but it could just as easily have been the operator. I do not know if any of these sensors that were added were mandated by the manufacturer (I hope that they would have been, but its Intamin) or if it is just something each of the rides owners chose to add or not. As RideMan stated some of the later drop towers had been originally designed with this device. This shows that Intamin noticed this could be an issue and corrected it on later models, but didn't take that opportunity to fix (recall) the older models, which I feel they should have.

As for the Six Flags safety thing, you listed 3 incidents which occurred (which I am only aware of one of the ROS deaths so Ill assume the other is when a person was thrown out of Darian Lakes ROS and only suffered minor injuries) over a period of 8 years. Surely no incidents are ideal, but 3 majors over 8 years isn't that bad.

At any rate I have been doing some minor searching, and anyone is welcome to do some more in depth searches but heres what I got, according to

2007 Jan-Sept
Cedar Fair - 4
Disney - 2
Six Flags - 1
Legoland - 1

Cedar Fair - 2
Disney - 2

Disney - 2

Universal - 3
Six Flags - 2
Cedar Fair - 1
Disney - 1

Disney - 2
Six Flags - 2
Paramount - 1

Six Flags - 3
Cedar Fair - 2

Cedar Fair - 3
Six Flags - 3
Busch Gardens - 1
Disney - 1
Paramount - 1

The numbers listed exclude preexisting conditions, pool drownings, incidents that occurred during testing (such as the Kingda Ka incident or the up charge attraction that fell at Cedar Point) and "ride stalls". Included are ride malfunctions resulting in injuries or deaths as well as employee accidents (such as falls or being in the way of coaster trains)

Though I always wondered why the ride didn't have the sensors to automatically stop after the cable failure, the part of the KDA report that just doesn't sit well with me was the testimony from the ride op who wound up (albeit too late) e-stopping the ride.

She said after hearing the cable snap and hearing the riders scream she actually called the park's emergency line to ask if she should stop the ride...not to mention she then got into an argument with the emergency operator about it.

You know, if the situation is urgent enough that you feel the need to make a call to see if you should e-stop, maybe you should just go ahead and push the f'ing button instead. That phone call is the "10 seconds" everyone mentions and cost Kaitlyn her feet. It's a stupid procedure. There should be no emergency hotline of that sort. The standard training procedure should be to e-stop for any unusual situation...even if you are unsure. No questions asked. Sure it could turn out to be nothing and guests might be inconvenienced, but better safe than sorry.

The unfortunate truth is that had the op followed her instinct and just e-stopped immediately, she'd be considered a hero today. But for whatever reason (be it SFKK operating procedure, fear, inexperience, etc.) that's not how it played out and now we have this mess on our hands.

And what the heck is up with PortAventura continuting to run the ride after their break? If a wheel comes off my car, I'm not going to keep driving just because the other three still work...

*** Edited 6/11/2008 4:10:34 PM UTC by Emiroo***

It has been reported that the SFKK operating procedure would have been to hit the e-stop button. The "hotline" that was called isn't a line for people to call when they feel that something isn't right and they don't know what to do, but rather an emergency number to help when more assistance is necessary (ie security, medics, etc.).
^ I'm sure that SFKK will tell you that pushing the e-stop button immediately is the standard procedure, but I wonder if there is pressure placed on the ride-ops to only e-stop when they are "sure" so as not to risk downtime and losing throughput...

Kind of seems like it in this case. I guess I just can't get over the whole phone call thing. There's obviously some sort of trouble and the op makes a phone call first. WTF? Maybe she was scared and didn't know what to do, but maybe she was also scared of losing her job. This is pure speculation with no factual basis, but even an inexperienced 16 year old knows what sounds should be coming from the ride (and riders) and what should not. It sounds like the op here knew something was up but was afraid to push the least until the other op backed her up and yelled for her to do it.

*** Edited 6/11/2008 4:21:16 PM UTC by Emiroo***

I just saw the pictures of the original snap at port aventura in 2006. It was interesting to see that all three cables (11/06, 6/07, 6/08) seemed to have snapped in the same place. The pictures show that each has about the same amount of "rope" hanging down after the snap. I am not familiar with how the motor house works, but perhaps theres something in there causing greater fatigue in this area. Not only is it about the same place on the cable, but they seem to be happening around the same place on the tower, just after the breaks. It just seems interesting and like there is more to look into...

Any one have any good pictures of the snap at SFKK can't seem to find any this late in the game. *** Edited 6/11/2008 6:18:44 PM UTC by IntaminHater***

There weren't a ton of great pics of the cable even right after the accident, but hope these help:

Pic 1

Video of Inspection After Accident (Long, but it shows the cable a few times especially towards the end.)

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Super Loopy said:
Loopy - who's just not quite loopy enough to ride an Intamin drop tower.

...or any drop ride for that matter. ;-)


Rick_UK's avatar
I could be totally wrong, but this happened a few years ago on the same ride?


Nothing to see here. Move along.

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