According to a newscast later in the movie:
"Officials believe deterioration of silicon insulation on an electrical connector to the scavenger pump may have leaked combustible fluids. A spark in the fuel switch in the fuselage may have ignited the fuel line and proceeded to the fuel pump which would have set off the catastrophic explosion."
In the films
Alex and his classmates get onto the plane. After Alex takes his seat, Blake and Christa ask him to switch seats. He gets up and sits next to Tod. Suddenly, the tray in front of Alex breaks. Alex props up the tray and tries to turn the pin that locks the tray, but instead of locking the tray, he accidentally pulls out the pin.
While at cruising altitude, the plane shakes violently and soon enough, everyone is forced to put oxygen masks on. Suddenly, an oxygen panel starts to spark and break apart. A shower of sparks raining down from the malfunctioning panel sets some of the cabin's carpeting on fire. Without any warning, part of the left side fuselage tears off, sucking three students and eventually Ms. Lewton out of the plane.
Soon, fire erupts out of Engine #1. Moments later, the nose starts pointing down at a steep angle as the plane starts to fall, and in the process, a radio falls and hits Tod's head. Engine #1 of the plane then violently explodes, sending a shrapnel into the cabin that causes an enormous blood splatter to splash onto a cabin wall. A wall of fire roars into the cabin, incinerating Alex and the other passengers.But then Alex wakes up on the plane and realizes what he just experienced was a premonition. Blake and Christa are asking him to switch seats. Panicked, Alex runs to the seat next to Tod and sees that the tray is broken. He shouts that the plane is going to explode. Carter gets angry and tries to beat up Alex. But this ends up with Alex, Carter, Carter's girlfriend Terry, Billy, Mr. Murnau and Ms. Lewton getting off the plane. Tod gets off when his brother, George, suggests that he should keep an eye on Alex. Clear gets off because she believes Alex.
After they were evacuated to the terminal, the co-pilot begins to tell them that one of them can go back to the plane. Mr. Murnau decides to return to the plane. Before the plane departs, Carter mocks Alex, saying that the plane's going to blow up because Alex had a bad dream. Alex then tackles Carter, and the two engage in melee combat.
As the guards break apart Alex and Carter, the plane explodes in mid-air. The shockwave is so powerful, that all the glass in the terminal explodes onto the survivors. Fortunately, none were impaled. As the guards call for help, Carter and the other survivors look at Alex in horror and watches as the wreckage was falling from the sky and sends towards the city.
Final Destination 5After Alex notices his vision, Sam and Molly arrive at the plane to leave for Paris before they witness him and the other survivors being removed from the plane during a fistfight. Sam and Molly, unaware of his warning, takes their seats before the plane departs.
While at cruising altitude, the fasten your seat belt sign above them flickers. Sam begins suffering the recurring omens on his premonition and when he overhears the flight attendant talking to a passenger about Alex and his vision.
As he realizes that he and Molly were too late to get off, Engine #1 erupts into flames. The lights in the cabin start flickering. Soon enough, the front right side of Engine #1 explodes, sending three shrapnels flying towards the left side fuslage, depressurizing the fuselage.
Inside the cabin, the oxygen masks drop due to partial loss of cabin pressure. The plane starts turning right. Suddenly, part of the left rear fuselage closest to the back of the cabin tears off, sucking two passengers out of the plane, including Molly, who is then bisected by the tailplane. An explosion goes off in the plane, separating the front of the plane from the rest. A huge fire roars into the plane's interior, incinerating Sam and everyone else. As the 747 burns, the left wing separates from the fuselage. The burning plane finally explodes and sends a fiery piece of the landing gear to the city, where it crashes at a bar and crushes Nathan.
Death toll: 288
The plan behind the scenes was to create an intriguing visual signature. To serve the subtleties of the script and to help personify death, production designer John Willet developed the concept of "skewing" the sets.
"What I've tried to do with the sets themselves, with their design and with various color choices, is to make things just a little unnatural," Willet explained. "Nothing that calls attention to itself, but instead creates a sense of uneasiness—the unsettling feeling that something's not quite right". To achieve this mystique, Willet designed two versions of virtually every set—one version was used before the crash and the other sets were used for scenes after the jet explodes.
The plane scene during which passengers die in mid-air was created inside a very large sound stage. The three-ton hydraulic gimbal was operated automatically. "We spent two months building this central set piece that weighs about 45,000 pounds and holds 89 people," special effects supervisor Terry Sonderhoff explained.
Used for filming the on-board sequences, it could be shifted on the gimbal to create a pitching movement of up to 45 degrees side-to-side and 60 degrees front-to-back, realistically conveying the horror of airborne engine failure. Sawa said that "the screams of the cast inside the gimbal made it appear more real". Wong said, "You walk into the studio and there's a huge gimbal with a plane on top and you think, 'What have I done?' I was afraid we were gonna have 40 extras vomiting."
A miniature model of the Boeing 747 airplane was created for the explosion scene. The model, one of the most detailed miniature scenes in the film, was about 10 feet long and 7 feet wide, and the landing gear was made from all machined metals. According to visual effects supervisor Ariel Velasco Shaw, the miniature had to be launched about 40 feet up into the air to make it look like a real Boeing 747 exploded into a fireball.
To film the explosion in detail, the crew used three cameras running 120 frames per second and one camera running 300 frames per second (if they had filmed using a real-time camera, the succession of the explosion would not be filmed in a particular order).
Flight 180 is very loosely based on the real-life disaster of TWA Flight 800 that occurred in 1996. The plane was a 747 en route to Paris, with high school students and had also experienced an in-flight explosion. Critic Roger Ebert, who praised the movie, called this allusion "a bit tasteless".
It is also losely based on the crash of Pan Am flight 103 in 1988. Many of the passengers were thrown out of the plane and fell to their deaths. Also several people on the ground were also killed due to parts of the plane crashing to the ground.
United Airlines Flight 811 was also an accident similar to this, where there is little maintenance and the right side of the fuselage was ripped of, although Volée 180 didn't land safely.
Alex is seen reading The Downing on Flight 103 in Final Destination.
- A skeleton figurine hanging in a noose is among the toys scattered about Alex's room.
- The book Death of a Salesman is shown on Alex's bookshelf.
- A fan running in Alex's room blows open a book about French history, which has pages covered in illustrations of executions and the supernatural.
- The last page shown in the history book depicts a statue with graffiti reading "This Is The End" in red.
- Alex tells his mother not to rip off the tag from a previous flight because it's good luck. She rips it off anyway.
- Alex's father tells him "Live it up, Alex. You got your whole life ahead of you."
- While Alex is asleep, a strong gust of wind blows through his room.
- Alex is briefly woken up by a voice whispering "... Alex... Alex..."
- Alex's alarm clock read 1:00, but briefly flickers and reads 1:80.
- In the airport, a Hare Krishna approaches Alex and tells him, "Death is not the end."
- The flight board malfunctions briefly, causing one of the boards in the column listing departing times to stay blank.
- The ticket a flight attendant attaches to Alex's bag has "Final Destination" printed on it.
- The departure time was the same as Alex's birthday - 9:25.
- One of the signs within the flight schedule has a broken wire over the word "Terminal".
- When Clear drops her book in the lobby, Alex picks it up and returns it to her. When Clear looks at the page, it was on an article about Princess Diana's accident.
- In the terminal, Rocky Mountain High is playing, by John Denver, who died in a plane crash.
- Flight 180 leaves from JFK Airport In New York, John F. Kennedy's son John F. Kennedy Jr. died with his wife and sister-in-law in a plane crash.
- When Alex looks at the plane through a window in the terminal, the window has a large crack in it that aligns over the plane, foreshadowing the plane's destruction.
- Alex's class board the plane through Gate 46. Half of 46 is 23, hinting the Route 23 pile-up in Final Destination 2. Additionally, the airport is JFK Airport, and John F. Kennedy was shot in the back aged 46.
- Before Alex gets on the plane, he sees a van. It's number is 666.
- Noticing a crying baby onboard, George says "It'd be a fucked up God to take down this plane." And when he sees a mental patient, "A really fucked-up God."
- The flight attendants don't show how to use safety equipments for emergency situation, although this may be off screen but it didn't show properly.
- When Alex watched the news after the plane crash, the news reporter said, "The plane explodes" and the thunder outside makes an exploding sound.
Final Destination 5
- Alex is shown freaking out and him and his friends are kicked off the plane. When a passenger asks about what happened, the flight attendant stated that the kid claimed he had a "vision" the plane was going to explode.
- Sam and Molly were assigned to sit in Seat 23, hinting the Route 23 pile-up from Final Destination 2.
- An advertisement of the Lasik Center where Olivia dies is shown in Molly's magazine.
- Sam cuts his thumb on the seat, just as he does on the bus on North Bay Bridge.
- As he is listening to the music, Sam hears "Dust in the Wind" playing, just as he did on the bus on the bridge.
- Clear Rivers (deceased)
- Alex Browning (deceased)
- Carter Horton (deceased)
- Billy Hitchcock (deceased)
- Valerie Lewton (deceased)
- Terry Chaney (deceased)
- Tod Waggner (deceased)
- Female flight attendant 1
- Female flight attendant 2
- Female flight attendant 3
- Mr. Smith
- Male flight attendant 1
- Male flight attendant 2
Mt. Abraham High School
- Dave Anderson
- William Burns
- Jody Chow
- Blake Dreyer
- Todd A. Emde
- Kate Elise Heslup
- Wm. Carle Heslup
- Lisa Rose Hudson
- Sally Hudson
- Stephen Jackson
- Lee M. Jenkinson
- Joey Jow
- Marko Lytviak
- Terry Mackay
- Christa Marsh
- Johanna Ingrid Masur
- Brooke Karen McGill
- Derick McLeod
- Pamela McLeod
- William McMahon
- Larry Murnau
- Bryan Pederson
- Julie Anne Slater
- Terry Sonderhoff
- Mary Lou Storey
- Anneke Van Oort
- Kirstie Van Oort
- George Waggner
- Geoffrey Wallace
- Carie Lynn Wallis
- John B. Willett
- In Final Destination 5, Sam's ticket mentions that the year is 2000. Alex's ticket, however, never mentions the year. Also, when it shows Sam's ticket, it says that the boarding gate was H6, but when it showed Alex and the other students boarding the plane, the gate number was 46.
- It serves as the beginning and plot of the first Final Destination movie, and the ending to Final Destination 5.
- This is the only disaster in which the death order wasn't properly shown. However, the radio that presumably knocked out Tod Waggner might as well have killed him, starting the chain.
- "Flight 180" was the original working title of the first film and thus the whole franchise.
- Flight 180 ranked #9 on WatchMojo.com's "Top Ten Airplane Crashes in Movies".
- "Volée" is French for "flight". When translated literally, the full title could be "Flight Airlines Flight 180".