Riders in 2001 Superman accident sue Six Flags, Six Flags sues Intamin

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

In August 2001, two trains on Superman: Ride of Steel at Six Flags New England collided after one train was not fully stopped by the brake run at the end of the ride. At least two lawsuits -- one personal injury, and one by Six Flags against the ride manufacturer Intamin -- have resulted.

Read more from MassTort.org.

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For the record, the brakes on the superman ARE fixed in a sense. They remain in the closed position until the train is properly detected by proximity switches in a set time frame once the train enters the brakes, and the station block is properly cleared by switches at the base of the hill.

They are set up so in the event of an air problem, they lock in the closed position. Plus the fact that the entire ride shuts down.

The problem would be in the programming.

Six Flags are hypocrites. I mean they sue and then keep building more and more Intamin coasters. Cedar Point seems to have a good relationship with Intamin but Six Flags's relationship is really whacked.

That is not being hypocritical. Sometimes I like to wonder where some of you learn how to plug in the wrong words into sentences. They sue and then keep building more and more Intamin coasters? Kingda Ka, the only Intamin ride that is going into a Six Flags park next season is already in its final stages of installation - this lawsuit is very recent - meaning they didn't sue Intamin then afterwards sign a contract with them to design, manufacture and build Kingda Ka.

And the reason why Cedar Point seems to have a good relationship with Intamin is because Cedar Fair has yet to experience the REPEATED embarassment and bad press relating to guests falling out of or getting injured on an Intamin product. In addition, the ratio of Cedar Fair parks with Intamins in contrast with the amount of Six Flags parks with Intamins are on completely different levels.

Well yes, that is a true. This new ride being built at Six Flags was ready to be built before the lawsuit.

HOWEVER, if SF decides to build anymore rides by Intamin with the old style T-bar then yes, it sure is hypocritical.

Suing Intamin is a way for SF to blame the problems ON Intamin and, as a result, Intamin's products should no longer be purchased by SF. If SF does continue to buy their products (one's with the T-bar restraint that is) then yes, that is very hypocritical.

I doubt though that SF will ever again buy a coaster from Intamin with a 1st generation T-bar.

Ride of Steel,

While TTD does have fixed brakes at the end of the ride, the brakes on the launch portion are mechanical, however the chances that a train could roll at top speed all the way back to the station are very, very, slim.

mr darkmatter,

Forgive me if I am wrong here but wasn't the collision on SFNE's version blamed on a faulty brake line or something? If so, then programming wasn't a factor.


The near collision at SFA was definitly programming. Witness accounts of the brakes opening as the train entered and closing after the train passed thru confirms this. Maintenance was on the scene before hand for a different problem. Apparently what took place was a series of events that opened up a one and a 100,000 chance loophole for the system to think: Hey! Stations clear open 'em up!

I don't remember the date of the SFNE event, however I thought it took place after the change to the brake mechanism. If i'm incorrect then; and mabye somebody has better info, but the brakes have a counterweight to pull them into the closed position. Were the counterweights part of the change as well?

In either case the intamin programming error was present in both rides.

OMG another sue, this is how theme parks look bad. If i dont get hurt i wont sue. Since someone got hurt, dont know how bad, i dont blame them.
Ride of Steel's avatar
Sean yes I know that. I should have posted that. I realize that they are mechanical. HOWEVER the fixed brakes slow the train down so much when I was there in the summer each time it could barely make it into the mechanical brake run.

First of all the chances of the train rolling into the station at full speed is impossible unless someone unscrewed all the brakes. Same with MF.

The mechanical brakes, even if they failed wouldn't be a problem because
1. After the fixed brakes its going less than 5 mph
2. The kicker wheels will most likely stop any of the trains motion.

Ride like the Supermans DO have a chance of failing, whether it be computer or mechanical. TTD does not because there is nothing that needs to happen. The brakes are there, theres no off position, and they aren't computer controlled.

It's funny, I caught my self on my first SROS ride at SFNE this summer looking back at the brake run to make sure that the brakes were in position. ;)

The question is did the brakes fail because of Intamin or because of the poor maintanance of a the Six Flags parks?
Even the most carefully inspected air system can have a catostrophic failure at any time. Short of tearing the entire system apart every day and checking o-rings and seals-which would take many man hours- an inspector can only do a function check, look for rotted lines and listen for abnormal sounds. I don't think it's plausible to bring maintenance to the table for these occurances.
Jeff's avatar
Dave has more information on his site about the specifics of the failure, and the way I read it, the brake system was designed wrong. It is not the same system found on Millennium Force (or I assume any rides that came thereafter).
ApolloAndy's avatar
TTD could definitely fail on a rollback.
Jeff's avatar
Fail what?
Pete's avatar
Highly unlikely. TTD's launch brakes I believe use air pressure to turn off. Any loss of air pressure would simple cause to brakes to be in the raised position.

I wonder how much a park's planning dept. has over the design of the rides. In other words, is MF's brake system different and more failsafe because Intamin changed the design on it's own, or because Cedar Point specified changes to the design after a review of the previous system installed on Superman?

Ride of Steel said:
"the brakes on TTD AND MF can NOT fail. It's impossible. Why? they are fixed along the track."

Just because there are fixed magnetic brakes does not mean that they will stop the train.

Millennium's fixed brakes do not have nearly enough power to stop a full train. After the "fun" in 2000, the retractable brakes were moved back to help prevent over-shooting.

Interestingly enough, Intamin's magnetic brakes aren't the only flawed brakes in the industry. A certian Arrow ride I know will over-shoot it's safety brakes in the rain if it's running too fast.*** This post was edited by rOLLocOASt 10/15/2004 3:50:59 AM ***

Another thing to consider, the superman trains for the past three years have received beefed-up bogies, guide forks, and upstop forks. The added weight is in the tons, easily. The physics of the braking system has NOT changed. It may be my imagination, but the trains seem to stop a lot closer to the train in the station.
Jeff's avatar
It's more probably that we'll get hit by an asteroid than Dragster's brakes failing on the landing side. However, while I'm sure that it's nearly impossible for the roll-back brakes to fail, they are controlled by a machine, and a machine could fail. Not likely, but possible.
Mr Darkmatter: the changes were made to the braking system/lines after the accident.....not prior to it.

After SFNE's crash all three superman rides recieved new brake lines prior to the start of the 02 season,IIRC the rides were down for the remainder of the 01 season but of course that was three years ago.

Actually, after the SFNE crash, the other Supermen either didn't go down, or only went down for an hour or two for inspection, and even continued to operate with two trains. The SFNE coaster wasn't even down very long. In fact... (clicky clicky)...Yeah, here it is. The incident was on 8/6/2001 and the ride was down for twelve days. So it was a little more than a week. At the time it seemed like odd behavior on the part of Six Flags, as they are known for shutting everything down when they have an incident, and that told me that when the ride failed, something broke, and whatever it was, was something blatantly obvious, such that they knew immediately what went wrong.

Most of the twelve days was probably spent waiting for the steel-clad air hoses to arrive.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Thank you Batwing Fan SFA, like I said I wasn't positive about the first event timeline.

RideMan: Not debating you on what six flags says about the "air line" thing. I'm still uncertain on how an air leak could open the brakes, even with the old design. I have multiple contacts "in the biz" as i'm sure you do and I want to know how even a major air leak, with the compressor running, could deplete the system in 70 or so seconds (average ride time) without the whole thing shutting down. Anyway I am digging further and with more facts I will post in the next day or so.

Incidently, the brake line hoses are NOT steel clad, they are still standard pvc 100-150 psi. PLASTIC.

Six Flags got sued by people involved in the accident, but the contract of Six Flags & Intamin states that Intamin is responsible for any accidents.
So Six Flags just "forwarded" the lawsuit to Intamin.

I believe the relationship between them is still fine and they will open a magnificent recordbreaker at Great Adventure.

However, I'm still mad at Six Flags for refusing to pay for the Déjà Vu rides. They screw up the whole ride program, then say it has too much downtime and blame Vekoma.
They add extra trimbrakes and blame Vekoma for the stalls.
And finally, they add extra seatbelts and blame Vekoma for the long loading times.

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