''Airframe'' was MichaelCrichton's eleventh novel, in which he tackles common misconceptions about flying accidents while at the same time taking shots at an overly-sensational news media. Utilizing his usual technical details, it met with mostly positive responses, some people going so far as to say they actually felt better about flying after reading it.
On a routine flight across the Pacific, a Norton N-22 airliner encounters what the pilot describes as "severe turbulence," bad enough to kill three people and injure dozens more. As the plane lands, the Norton investigation team begins looking into the incident and trying to determine what happened. It falls to [[HonestCorporateExecutive Casey Singleton]] to find out what happened, while preserving the name and reputation of the company as the news media begin to get wind of what happened and start nosing around.
!! ''Airframe'' contains examples of:
* AcePilot: The Captain of the flight was one of the best in the world, and how this could have happened while he was flying is one of the central questions of the investigation. [[spoiler: Turns out he wasn't flying it at all.]] Norton test pilot Ted Rawley also qualifies.
* BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor: Malone demands to be on the plane when Norton recreates the incident. She winds up regretting it.
* BeingGoodSucks: Casey is feeling this way toward the end of the book. She's been trying to do the right thing throughout and all she has to show for her efforts are a couple of videos showing the terrifying ride, she's being hounded by reporters who sense blood in the water, and [[spoiler: it turns out she's been set up to take the fall if the plane is discredited.]]
* BigBadDuumvirate: [[spoiler: Marder and Richman]]
* ComingInHot: The pilot requests a total of ''forty'' ambulances to meet them on the ground.
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: [[spoiler: Marder and Richman both qualify.]]
* DeathInTheClouds: Three, later four, to be precise.
* FilmAtEleven: Casey points this out as the main reason news networks will cover some plane accidents but leave others alone.
* GuileHero: Casey turns out to be one.
* ImprobablePilotingSkills: Everyone is amazed that the pilot is able to land the plane after what it went through. [[spoiler:This turns out to be a key clue in what really happened: the pilot's son, himself a pilot, took over for his father when he went to take a bathroom break, and proceeded to cause the disaster by over-correcting an altitude warning, thanks to his inexperience with the plane. His father managed to get back into the seat and land the plane.]]
* IntrepidReporter: Marty Rearan projects this image, but it's actually his producer, Jennifer Malone, who finds the stories and does the investigating.
* ManipulativeBastard: [[spoiler: Marcer.]]
* PrimeTimeNews: ''Newsline'' is a fictional example.
* TheReveal: [[spoiler: The accident was actually caused by the Captain's son, who although a pilot, was not qualified for the N-22. When a simple problem occurred, he panicked and turned a simple situation into a disaster.]]
* ShownTheirWork: As usual for MichaelCrichton.
* SmugSnake: [[spoiler: Bob Richman.]]
* TakeThat: One of the engineers is described as a temperamental, grumpy, elitist manchild... which, the narration notes, is true of many engineers.
* YetAnotherBabyPanda: Malone's boss is eager to get the Norton story so he doesn't get stuck with one of these.