The World’s Most Costly Engineering Mistakens

Over the last few centuries human beings have produced some incredible examples of engineering masterpieces, from the pyramids to London’s Shard. However, as a species we haven’t always got it right – in this infographic, we take a look at some of the world’s most costly engineering mistakes, both in terms of the financial and human cost.

1628 The Vasa
– The Vasa was the biggest sailing vessel of its day.
– The Vasa was dangerously unstable due to there being too much weight in the upper structure of the hull.
– The overloaded ship sailed for all of a mile before taking on too much water and sinking.
– At least 30 people died when the ship sank.

1919 Boston Molasses Tank
– The tank was constructed poorly and tested insufficiently.
– When the internal pressure from the CO2 production grew, the tank exploded.
– After the tank burst, a wave of 2.5 million gallons of molasses rushed through the stress of Boston at 35 miles per hour, killing 21 and injuring 150.
– The explosion of the Great Molasses purity distilling tank caused $10.7 million in damages.

1940 Tacoma Narrows Bridge
– The Bridge collapsed due to engineers’ failure to take into account aerolast flutter.
– No human life was lost in the collapse of the bridge.
– The collapse of the bridge is estimated to have cost $501 million in damages, and the event is used to make modern bridges safer in windy conditions.

1979 The Skylab Satellite
– Engineers didn’t account for the aerodynamics of the sun and meteoroid shield, as well as one of the solar panels.
– The satellite spent 6 years in orbit, before returning to Earth and disintegrating, with part of debirs striking Western Australia.
– The disintegration of Skylab caused an estimated $10 million in damages.

1980 Hyatt Regency Hotel Walkway
– The walkway across the atrium of the Hyatt Regency collapsed as the supporting rod connections weren’t strong enough to hold the required weight.
– The collapse killed 114 people and injured more than 200 others.
– The disaster was estimated to have cost millions of dollars in costs and damages paid to those injured in the collapse.

2000 Firestone Tyres
– In 2000 6.5 million Firestone tyres were recalled after it was revealed that many had tread separation, making them potentially dangerous.
– During use, the tread was peeling off, causing tyre disintegration. When this happened at speed, the vehicle could leave the road and roll over.
– The recall cost the company an estimated $2.4 billion.

2006 Big Dig
– The contractor for the “Big Dig” tunnel used concrete that didn’t meet the required specifications.
– In 2006, a 3-ton concrete ceiling panel fell on a car travelling through the tunnel, killing a car passenger an badly injuring the driver.
– The tunnel leaks, closures and fatal accident cost around $16 million in damages paid by the state.

2013 The Isaac Peral
– After Spain invested $2.7 billion in a diesel-electric submarines, it was discovered that the first one – the Isaac Peril – was 70 tons overweight and would sink out at sea.
– The error occurred due to a decimal point being put in the wrong place during the design phase.
– The error will ocst the Spanish Defence Ministry $14 million to correct, payable over 3 years.

The World's Most Costly Engineering Mistakes

Source from Grassform Group