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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 French class board the plane for their trip to Paris. Christa Marsh and Blake Dreyer ask Tod Waggner, Alex's friend, if he can move to Alex's row so they can sit together, but Tod lies and says that he has a medical condition. The girls then decide to ask Alex.
After Alex takes his seat, Blake and Christa ask him to move to Tod's row. Despite Tod's silent protests, Alex gets up and moves to his row.. As he sits down, the tray table in front of Alex unfolds. Alex props the tray table back up and attempts to lock it, but accidentally pulls out the pin, allowing the tray table to unfold again.
Moments after taking off, the plane shakes slightly due to turbulence, alarming some of the passengers. A flight attendant assures some of the passengers that everything is okay, when the cabin begins to shake violently. The oxygen masks drop down and the passengers struggle to put them on as the pilots attempt to redirect the plane back to the landing strip. Suddenly, a large explosion occurs in rows 17 and 18 on the left side of the cabin, showering passengers with sparks and fire, and killing all three passengers in row 17. The fuselage of row 18 rips away, initially sucking out two of the three students within the row. Ms. Lewton attempts to save the third student by reaching out and trying to grab her hand, but is unable to as the third student is sucked out of the cabin. A ball of fire erupts next to the exposed hole in the fuselage as Engine #1 is engulfed in flames.
The plane begins to nosedive, throwing a passenger from his seat and down the aisle, and a radio falls and hits the back of Tod's head, killing him. The lights within the cabin go out, and the flames from burning Engine #1 illuminate the inside of the cabin. The plane engines emit a high-pitched ringing as they all begin to fail, and Alex pulls the oxygen mask off his face. Suddenly, the fuel pump at the front left of the plane explodes, throwing the passengers back into their seats and killing a number of passengers as blood and body parts splash across the cabin ceiling. A wall of fire roars throughout the cabin, incinerating Alex and the other passengers.Alex suddenly snaps awake on the plane in his original seat, and realizes what he just experienced was a premonition. Blake and Christa are asking him to switch seats when he panics, running to the seat next to Tod and sees that the tray table is broken. He shouts that the plane is going to explode, prompting Carter to get angry and attempts to assault Alex. This results in Alex, Carter, Terry (Carter's girlfriend), Billy, Mr. Murnau and Ms. Lewton getting kicked off the plane. Tod later removes himself off the plane when his brother, George, suggests that he should keep an eye on Alex. Clear removes herself shortly after Tod.
After they are evacuated to the terminal, a co-pilot tells Ms. Lewton that only one high school faculty member can get back to the plane. Mr. Murnau decides to return to the plane. Before the plane departs, Carter lectures Alex, saying that they "blow a half a day in Paris all because [Alex] Browning had a bad fucking dream". Carter then begins to ridicule Alex, and prompts him to tackle Carter. The two attempt to fight as security guards restrain them.
As the security guards break apart Alex and Carter, the plane explodes in mid-air. The shockwave from the explosion is so powerful that the glass windows in the terminal shatter. As the guards call for help, the other survivors look at Alex in horror and watch as the burning wreckage fall from the sky.
Final Destination 5After Alex notices his vision, Sam and Molly arrive on the plane to leave for Paris before they witness him and the other survivors being removed from the plane during a fight. Sam and Molly, unaware of his warning, take their seats before the plane departs. While at cruising altitude, the fasten seat belt sign above them flickers. Sam begins suffering the recurring omens from his premonition, and soon 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. Sam and Molly hold on to each other as they stare at the burning engine in disbelief. Engine #1 suddenly explodes, sending out shrapnel that tears holes throughout the fuselage.
Inside the cabin, the oxygen masks drop due to partial loss of cabin pressure. The plane tilts downward to the right. As Sam and Molly attempt to grab a hold of their oxygen masks, the fuselage in rows 23 through 25 rips away, sucking two passengers out of the plane. Molly is sucked out, but is temporarily saved when Sam holds on to her. Unfortunately, Sam loses his grip and watches Molly get bisected by the tail wing of the plane. The fuel pump at the front left of the plane explodes, separating the cockpit from the rest of the plane. A wall of fire roars into the plane's interior, incinerating Sam and everyone else. The burning plane finally explodes and sends a fiery piece of the landing gear toward the city where it ultimately crashes through the ceiling of a bar and crushes Nathan.
Death toll: 280
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 loosely 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 Jim Morrison's grave, with red graffiti on it 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. Additionally, Alex's original seat is the either the 2nd or 9th in row 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
- Flight 180, Route 23 and the Coral Clipper disasters happened in the same date, May 13.
- 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 also have killed him, and then killed Terry Chaney offscreen a couple rows down.
- "Flight 180" was the original working title of the first film and the 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".