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PB96-910404
NTSB/AAR-96/04
NATIONAL
TRANSPORTATION
SAFETY
BOARD
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20594
AIRCRAFT ACCIDENT REPORT
RUNWAY DEPARTURE DURING ATTEMPTED TAKEOFF
TOWER AIR FLIGHT 41
BOEING 747-136, N605FF
JFK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, NEW YORK
DECEMBER 20,1995
667 1A
The National Transportation Safety Board is an independent Federal agency dedicated to
promoting aviation, railroad, highway, marine, pipeline, and hazardous materials safety.
Established in 1967, the agency is mandated by Congress through the Independent Safety
Board Act of 1974 to investigate transportation accidents, determine the probable causes of
the accidents, issue safety recommendations, study transportation safety issues, and evaluate
the safety effectiveness of government agencies involved in transportation. The Safety Board
makes public its actions and decisions through accident reports, safety studies, special
investigation reports, safety recommendations, and statistical reviews.
Information about available publications may be obtained by contacting:
National Transportation Safety Board
Public Inquiries Section, RE-51
490 L’Enfant Plaza, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20594
(202)314-6551
(800)877-6799
Safety Board publications may be purchased, by individual copy or by subscription, from:
National Technical Information Service
5285 Port Royal Road
Springfield, Virginia 22161
(703)487-4600
NTSB/AAR-96/04 PB96-910404
NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION
SAFETY BOARD
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20594
AIRCRAFT ACCIDENT REPORT
RUNWAY DEPARTURE DURING ATTEMPTED TAKEOFF
TOWER AIR FLIGHT 41
BOEING 747-136, N605FF
JFK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, NEW YORK
DECEMBER 20, 1995
Adopted: December 2, 1996
Notation 6671A
Abstract: This report explains the runway departure during attempted takeoff of Tower Air flight
41, N605FF, a Boeing 747-136 at John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York, on
December 20, 1995. The safety issues discussed in this report include the adequacy of Boeing and
air carrier procedures for B-747 operations on slippery runways; adequacy of flight simulators for
training B-747 pilots in slippery runway operations; security of galley equipment installed on
transport category aircraft; role of communications among flight attendants and between the cabin
crew and the flightcrew; adequacy of Tower Air galley security training; compliance of Tower Air’s
maintenance department with its established procedures; failure of the FDR system to function
during the accident; adequacy of the Tower Air operational management structure; adequacy of
FAA surveillance and workload imposed on POIs; adequacy of runway friction measurement
requirements, including correlation of runway friction measurements with aircraft braking and
ground handling performance. Safety recommendations concerning these issues were made to the
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Tower Air, Inc.
iii
CONTENTS
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY_____________________________________________________ vii
1. FACTUAL INFORMATION _________________________________________________ 1
1.1 History of Flight _______________________________________________________________ 1
1.2 Injuries to Persons _____________________________________________________________ 4
1.3 Damage to Airplane ____________________________________________________________ 4
1.4 Other Damage ________________________________________________________________ 5
1.5 Personnel Information__________________________________________________________ 5
1.5.1 The Captain_______________________________________________________________________ 5
1.5.2 First Officer_______________________________________________________________________ 5
1.5.3 Flight Engineer ____________________________________________________________________ 6
1.6 Airplane Information___________________________________________________________ 6
1.6.1 General __________________________________________________________________________ 6
1.6.2 Maintenance Records Review_________________________________________________________ 7
1.7 Meteorological Information ____________________________________________________ 10
1.8 Aids to Navigation ____________________________________________________________ 11
1.9 Communications______________________________________________________________ 11
1.10 Airport Information__________________________________________________________ 11
1.10.1 General ________________________________________________________________________ 11
1.10.2 Runway Conditions_______________________________________________________________ 11
1.10.3 Previous Safety Board Recommendations _____________________________________________ 13
1.10.4 Air Carrier Slippery Runway Events__________________________________________________ 14
1.11 Flight Recorders_____________________________________________________________ 14
iv 1.11.1 Flight Data Recorder______________________________________________________________ 14
1.11.2 Cockpit Voice Recorder ___________________________________________________________ 14
1.12 Wreckage and Impact Information _____________________________________________ 15
1.13 Medical and Pathological Information __________________________________________ 17
1.14 Fire________________________________________________________________________ 17
1.15 Survival Aspects _____________________________________________________________ 17
1.15.1 Cabin Interior Layout and Damage___________________________________________________ 17
1.15.2 Galley Equipment Description ______________________________________________________ 19
1.15.3 Flight Attendant Galley Preflight Procedures ___________________________________________ 22
1.15.4 Flight Attendant Galley Preflight Activities ____________________________________________ 22
1.15.5 Events in the Cabin During the Accident Sequence ______________________________________ 23
1.15.6 Deplanement ____________________________________________________________________ 24
1.15.7 Flight Attendant Training __________________________________________________________ 24
1.16 Tests and Research___________________________________________________________ 26
1.16.1 Flight Recorder Tests _____________________________________________________________ 26
1.16.2 Cockpit Voice Recorder Sound Spectral Study _________________________________________ 27
1.17 Organizational and Management Information____________________________________ 27
1.17.1 Reporting Relationships Among Operational Managers___________________________________ 27
1.17.2 Director of Flight Safety ___________________________________________________________ 29
1.18 Additional Information _______________________________________________________ 29
1.18.1 Operating Procedures - Boeing 747 __________________________________________________ 29
1.18.2 Flightcrew Training_______________________________________________________________ 31
1.18.3 Pilot Techniques for B-747 Takeoffs _________________________________________________ 32
1.18.4 B-747 Simulator Activity __________________________________________________________ 33
1.18.5 Recent Tower Air Accidents and Incidents_____________________________________________ 35
v 1.18.6 FAA Surveillance ________________________________________________________________ 36
1.18.7 Aircraft Performance______________________________________________________________ 38
2. ANALYSIS_______________________________________________________________ 40
2.1 General _____________________________________________________________________ 40
2.2 Flightcrew Actions and Decisions________________________________________________ 40
2.2.1 Pre-takeoff Events_________________________________________________________________ 40
2.2.2 The Attempted Takeoff and Loss of Control ____________________________________________ 41
2.2.3 Timeliness of the Rejected Takeoff ___________________________________________________ 42
2.2.4 B-747 Slippery Runway Operating Procedures __________________________________________ 43
2.2.5 Training Simulators for B-747 Slippery Runway Operations ________________________________ 45
2.2.6 Summary of Flightcrew Actions and Decisions __________________________________________ 45
2.3 Galley Security _______________________________________________________________ 46
2.4 Flight Attendant Actions and Training ___________________________________________ 46
2.4.1 Flight Attendant Communication _____________________________________________________ 46
2.4.2 Flight Attendant CRM Training ______________________________________________________ 48
2.4.3 Flight Attendant Galley Training _____________________________________________________ 48
2.4.4 Purser Training ___________________________________________________________________ 48
2.5 Company Management ________________________________________________________ 49
2.5.1 Maintenance _____________________________________________________________________ 49
2.5.2 Operations_______________________________________________________________________ 51
2.6 FAA Surveillance _____________________________________________________________ 51
2.7 Runway Contamination Evaluation______________________________________________ 53
3. CONCLUSIONS __________________________________________________________ 55
3.1 Findings_____________________________________________________________________ 55
vi 3.2 Probable Cause_______________________________________________________________ 57
4. RECOMMENDATIONS____________________________________________________ 58
5. APPENDIXES____________________________________________________________ 61
APPENDIX A - INVESTIGATION AND HEARING _______________________________ 61
1. Investigation __________________________________________________________________ 61
2. Public Hearing ________________________________________________________________ 61
APPENDIX B- COCKPIT VOICE RECORDER TRANSCRIPT ______________________ 62
vii
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
On December 20, 1995, at 1136, Tower Air flight 41, a Boeing B-747, veered off
the left side of runway 4L during an attempted takeoff at John F. Kennedy International Airport
(JFK), Jamaica, New York. The flight was a regularly scheduled passenger/cargo flight
conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 121. Of the
468 persons aboard (451 passengers, 12 cabin crewmembers, 3 flightcrew members, and 2
cockpit jumpseat occupants), 24 passengers sustained minor injuries, and a flight attendant
received serious injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The weather at the time of
the accident was partially obscured, with a 700-foot broken cloud ceiling, 1½ mile visibility, light
snow, and fog.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of
this accident was the captain’s failure to reject the takeoff in a timely manner when excessive
nosewheel steering tiller inputs resulted in a loss of directional control on a slippery runway.
Inadequate Boeing 747 slippery runway operating procedures developed by Tower Air, Inc., and
the Boeing Commercial Airplane Group and the inadequate fidelity of B-747 flight training
simulators for slippery runway operations contributed to the cause of this accident. The captain’s
reapplication of forward thrust before the airplane departed the left side of the runway
contributed to the severity of the runway excursion and damage to the airplane.
The safety issues discussed in this report include the adequacy of Boeing and air
carrier procedures for B-747 operations on slippery runways; adequacy of flight simulators for
training B-747 pilots in slippery runway operations; security of galley equipment installed on
transport category aircraft; role of communications among flight attendants and between the
cabin crew and the flightcrew; adequacy of Tower Air galley security training; compliance of
Tower Air’s maintenance department with its established procedures; failure of the FDR system
to function during the accident; adequacy of the Tower Air operational management structure;
adequacy of FAA surveillance and workload imposed on POIs; adequacy of runway friction
measurement requirements, including correlation of runway friction measurements with aircraft
braking and ground handling performance.
NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20594
AIRCRAFT ACCIDENT REPORT
RUNWAY DEPARTURE DURING ATTEMPTED TAKEOFF
TOWER AIR FLIGHT 41
BOEING B-747-136, N605FF
JOHN F. KENNEDY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, NEW YORK
DECEMBER 20, 1995
1. FACTUAL INFORMATION
1.1 History of Flight
On December 20, 1995, at 1136,
1
Tower Air flight 41, a Boeing B-747, veered off
the left side of runway 4L during an attempted takeoff at John F. Kennedy International Airport
(JFK), Jamaica, New York. The flight was a regularly scheduled passenger/cargo flight
conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 121. Of the
468 persons aboard (451 passengers, 12 cabin crewmembers, 3 flightcrew members, and 2
cockpit jumpseat occupants), 24 passengers sustained minor injuries, and a flight attendant
received serious injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The weather at the time of
the accident was partially obscured, with a 700-foot broken cloud ceiling, 1½ mile visibility, light
snow, and fog.
N605FF was flown from JFK to Miami, Florida, and back to JFK on
December 19, 1995. The captain on those flights reported no problems with the airplane. On
December 20, 1995, the airplane was moved to the gate in preparation to depart at 1000 for the
first leg of a round trip from JFK to Miami and return for the three flightcrew members. The
cabin crew of 12 included a purser, assistant purser, and deadheading flight attendant (in
uniform), who was occupying a passenger seat in the cabin.
The captain stated that he met the first officer and flight engineer in company
operations before 0830. He received what he described as a thorough weather briefing prepared
by Tower Air’s dispatch department, which included special weather conditions for JFK. He was
aware of reports of compacted snow on the runways and that some of the runways were closed;
he was concerned about both the accumulated snow and a forecast storm. He spoke with the
Tower Air maintenance controller, who advised him that the airplane had no outstanding
1
All times herein are eastern standard time, based on a 24-hour clock.
2
discrepancies, and proceeded to the airplane. The flight engineer had previously completed the
external safety inspection and was seated in the cockpit. The first officer joined them shortly,
and all preflight checks were completed by 0930.
The captain was the flying pilot for this leg and gave a briefing to the flightcrew.
According to the captain, the crew discussed the weather and deicing at the gate. They obtained
the holdover times
2
from the Tower Air General Operations Manual. The crew then discussed
the amount of snow accumulation, the slippery conditions on the taxiways and runways,
3
the
need to taxi slowly, taxi procedures on packed snow and ice, and their plans to use engine antiice and wing heat.
The flight was pushed back from the gate at 1036, and the final deicing/anti-icing
with both Type I and Type II fluids
4
began at 1100. The flight was cleared to runway 4L and
taxied out at 1116.
According to the captain’s statements, he taxied forward several hundred feet and
made a 90o left turn to join the taxiway. The ramp was covered with packed snow and patches of
ice, but some spots were bare. The nosewheel skidded a little in the turn, but the captain taxied
slowly (about 3 knots according to the captain’s inertial navigation system display), and the
braking action was adequate. He stopped the airplane to clear the engine of any ice by increasing
power to 45 percent N1
5
for 10 seconds, but the airplane began to slip as power was advanced,
and they could not complete the procedure at that time.
Shortly after this attempt, about 1124, the crew of another flight inquired about
the availability of runway 31L, and ground control advised that it was closed, transmitting, “I
don’t know when it’s gonna open—probably be a couple of hours, may want to call the Port
Authority.” The captain stated that based on this information, he did not consider runway 31L to
be a viable option for his flight’s takeoff. Several minutes later, flight 41 was instructed, “...cross
[runway] three one left. On the other side monitor [frequency one] nineteen one....” As they
taxied on the parallel taxiway alongside runway 4L, the flight engineer left the cockpit to visually
inspect the wings. He returned and reported, “It’s very clean out there.” A few seconds later, at
1132:06, the flight was cleared to taxi into position and hold on runway 4L.
2
Holdover time is the estimated time the application of deicing or anti-icing fluid will prevent the
formation of frost or ice, and the accumulation of snow on the treated surfaces of an aircraft. It begins
when the final application of the fluid commences, and it expires when the fluid loses its effectiveness.
3
In this report, the term “slippery,” as it pertains to runways, is defined as runway surface condition
when the effective runway coefficient is less than the certificated bare and dry value, i.e., when the
runway is not bare and dry.
4
Type I fluid, primarily used for deicing, contains a high glycol content (minimum 80 percent) and a
relatively low viscosity. Type II fluid, normally used for anti-icing, can be operationally defined as fluid
containing a minimum glycol content of 50 percent (with 45-50 percent water plus thickeners and
inhibitors).
5
N1 is the engine fan speed expressed as a percentage of the maximum rpm.
3
The captain stated that as he taxied into position on the runway, he centered the
airplane and moved the nosewheel steering tiller to neutral as the airplane was barely moving.
He came to a complete stop, set the parking brake, and did the engine anti-ice runup. The
airplane did not move during the runup. The captain said that he could see the runway centerline
intermittently. He noted a strip of dark granular material about the width of a dump truck as he
looked down the center of the runway. Packed snow was on either side of the strip, and there
was some bare pavement. Snow was blowing horizontally from left to right across the runway.
The crew completed the “Before Takeoff Checklist” while holding in position.
At about 1136, the local controller transmitted, “Tower forty one heavy, wind
three three zero at one one, runway four left RVR’s one thousand eight hundred, cleared for
takeoff.” The captain said that he instructed the first officer to hold left aileron (for the
crosswind correction) and forward pressure on the control column. The first officer stated that he
held those inputs.
The captain released the parking brake and held the toe brakes while he increased
the power to 1.1 EPR.
6
He then released the brakes and advanced the power to 1.43 EPR, and at
1137:04 called, “Set time, takeoff thrust.” He said that he scanned the EPR gauges, and all were
normal. The flight engineer confirmed that the power was stable at 1.1 EPR, and as power was
applied slowly and evenly to 1.43 EPR, he ensured that power was symmetrical and the rpm
gauges were matched.
The captain stated that the takeoff began normally, with only minor corrections to
maintain the runway centerline. Before receiving the 80-knot call he expected from the first
officer, the captain felt the airplane moving to the left. He said he applied right rudder pedal
(inputs to the rudder control surface and nosewheel steering) without any effect. He stated that
he added more right rudder and then used the nosewheel steering tiller, but both were ineffective.
He stated that he had no directional control and that the nose of the airplane continued to turn
left. He knew where the runway centerline was, but he was unable to control the direction of
movement. The captain said that while the airplane was still on the runway with the veer and
drift to the left increasing, he applied full right rudder and nosewheel steering tiller. He said that
he then retarded the power levers to idle and applied maximum braking. He said that he
intentionally did not use reverse thrust because of the airplane’s slow speed at the time of the
abort, the long runway, and the possibility that reverse thrust could have worsened directional
control. The airplane then departed the left side of the runway.
The first officer stated that shortly after thrust was set and the airplane began
moving forward, it appeared to be left of the centerline. He stated that the nose was pointed
slightly left of the centerline in a minor deviation. He said that he looked down, noted that the
airspeed was less than 70 knots, looked back outside, and observed that the airplane had veered
further to the left. He stated that he was able to distinguish the runway edges at this time, and it
6
Engine pressure ratio (EPR) is a measure of engine thrust, comparing the total turbine discharge
pressure to the total pressure of the air entering the compressor.
4
was apparent to him that the airplane’s veer to the left could not be corrected. He said that he
commented on this to the captain and the flight engineer while the captain was attempting to stop
the airplane.
The flight engineer stated that after he set takeoff power and cross-checked the
engine instruments, he noted that the nose had started to veer to the left. He observed the captain
using right rudder and tiller and thought that the airplane would return to the centerline. He
recalled that the captain immediately pulled all four thrust levers to idle, and that the captain
applied the brakes just before the airplane left the runway.
A deadheading first officer who occupied the aft cockpit jumpseat during the
attempted takeoff stated that the captain reduced thrust only seconds after the flight engineer
called “power set.” He stated that he felt no swerve, and that his first indication of trouble was
when the captain retarded the thrust levers. He thought that the airplane was yawed left but
tracking straight for a while, and then it started to track to the left off the runway. He thought
that about 2 seconds elapsed between the power reduction and the time that the airplane left the
runway.
The captain recalled that after the airplane came to a stop off the runway, the first
officer called the control tower, and the flight engineer made a public address (PA)
announcement for the passengers to remain seated. The captain and flight engineer then
performed the memory shutdown items. The crew discussed whether to order an evacuation.
Based on the crew’s determination that there was no fire, that the airplane was basically intact
and not in imminent danger, and that there was a low wind chill factor outside, the captain
elected to keep everyone on board.
1.2 Injuries to Persons
Injuries Flightcrew Cabin Crew Passengers Other Total
Fatal 0 0 0 0 0
Serious 0 1 0 0 1
Minor 0 0 24 0 24
None 3 11 427 2 443
Total 3 12 451 2 468
1.3 Damage to Airplane
The airplane sustained substantial damage, and it was written off as a constructive
total loss.
5
1.4 Other Damage
A 12-foot double-sided sign and two 8-foot single-sided signs were damaged
when the airplane hit them after departing the runway. In addition, an FAA-owned transformer
was destroyed.
1.5 Personnel Information
1.5.1 The Captain
The captain, age 53, was hired by Tower Air on May 23, 1992, as a first officer on
B-747 airplanes. He was reassigned as captain on the B-747 on April 23, 1994. He held an
airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate, with ratings for L-188, DC-9, B-747, and airplane
multiengine land. His most recent proficiency check was accomplished on January 11, 1995, and
he completed the required recurrent simulator training in lieu of a proficiency check on July 31,
1995. He received his last line check before the accident on May 7, 1995. His Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) first-class medical certificate was issued on July 17, 1995, with the
limitation that he must possess corrective lenses. At the time of the accident, company records
indicated that he had accumulated approximately 16,455 total flying hours. He had logged 2,905
hours in the B-747, of which 1,102 hours were as pilot-in-command.
The captain flew on active duty in the U.S. Navy from 1967-1971, and in the
Naval Air Reserve an additional 15 years in multiengine turboprop airplanes. He flew for
Transamerica Airlines from 1978 through 1984, and for Midway Airlines from 1984 through
November 1991.
The captain held a reserve bid
7
for December, but he was not assigned any flight
duties by Tower Air from December 12-18, 1995. On December 18, 1995, he was notified that
he would be performing the accident trip on December 20. He was on reserve on December 19,
1995, but again was not called for duty that day. He napped for about 2 hours in the afternoon
and retired about 2200. On December 20, 1995, he awoke at 0400, anticipating bad weather,
traffic, and the possible need to shovel snow. He arrived at Tower Air operations at 0645. The
company reporting requirement was 1½ hours before departure, which would have been 0830 in
this case. He had never flown with the first officer before, but he had flown with the flight
engineer five times in the past.
1.5.2 First Officer
The first officer, age 56, was hired by Tower Air on January 16, 1995, as a first
officer on B-747 airplanes. He held an ATP certificate, with ratings for LR-JET, N-265, B-747,
B-727, airplane multiengine land, and commercial privileges for single-engine land, B-707, B720, and L-T33. He completed his most recent proficiency check on February 15, 1995, and his
7
A pilot on a reserve bid is on stand-by duty for assignment to flights.
6
recurrent simulator training in lieu of a proficiency check on July 26, 1995. His most recent
FAA first-class medical certificate was issued on December 8, 1994, with the limitation that he
must possess corrective lenses. Company records indicate that at the time of the accident, he had
accumulated 17,734 total flying hours, of which 4,804 hours were in the B-747.
The first officer had been off duty for 17 days before the accident trip. He
commuted from his home in Miami, Florida, to a hotel in New York on December 19, 1995. He
went to bed about 2230, slept well, and arose at 0600. He reported to operations at 0720. He did
not recall having flown with the captain previously, but he had flown with the flight engineer
once.
1.5.3 Flight Engineer
The flight engineer, age 34, was hired by Tower Air on March 10, 1995, as a
flight engineer on B-747 airplanes. He held a flight engineer certificate with a turbojet powered
rating; a mechanic certificate with airframe and powerplant ratings; and a private pilot certificate
with ratings for airplane single-engine land. His most recent FAA first-class medical certificate
was issued on December 8, 1995, with the limitation that he must possess corrective lenses. He
had a Statement of Demonstrated Ability issued on April 2, 1994, for defective color vision
demonstrated on a special flight test. His most recent proficiency check was accomplished on
March 9, 1995, and his recurrent training was completed on September 19, 1995. Company
records indicate that at the time of the accident, he had accumulated a total of 4,609 total flying
hours, of which 2,799 hours were as a flight engineer in the B-747.
The flight engineer flew the JFK-Miami-JFK round trip that included flight 41 on
December 17, and he was off duty December 18-19, 1995. On December 19, 1995, he left his
home in Delaware about 1230 in his car, arrived in New York about 1730, and checked into the
hotel about 2000. He went to bed about 2100. He arose at 0500 on December 20, 1995, left the
hotel at 0720, and arrived at the operations office at 0730.
1.6 Airplane Information
1.6.1 General
N605FF, a Boeing B-747-136, was delivered new to the British Overseas Airline
Corporation in July 1971. Trans World Airlines, Inc. (TWA), acquired it in March 1981, and
subsequently sold it to Tower Air in March 1991. At the time of the accident, it had been flown
90,456.7 hours, with 17,726 cycles. It was equipped with four Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7A
engines.
The Boeing 747-136 model is equipped with a hydraulic-powered nosewheel
steering system to assist pilots with directional control during ground operations. Hydraulic fluid
under pressure is used to turn the nosewheel in response to control inputs by the captain and first
officer. All B-747s are equipped with a nosewheel steering tiller located at each pilot’s side
panel. Nosewheel steering through the tiller is capable of 70o of nosewheel deflection, at full
7
tiller input. In addition to the steering capability through the tiller, N605FF (as well as many
other B-747s) was equipped with rudder pedal steering that turned the nosewheel in response to
control inputs through the rudder pedals at each pilot’s foot position. Because of the rudder
pedal steering, a pilot’s inputs to the rudder pedals would result in coordinated movement of the
nosewheel and the rudder control surface at the tail of the airplane. In contrast to the tiller, the
rudder pedals were capable of 10o of nosewheel deflection, at full rudder pedal input.
The flight data recorder (FDR) system on N605FF was an Aeronautical Radio,
Incorporated (ARINC) Characteristic Number 563 digital FDR system. This system consisted of
a central electronics unit (CEU) and three digital acquisition units (DAU), in addition to the
flight data recorder unit. The three DAUs were located in the system’s main equipment center,
center equipment center, and upper equipment center. Each DAU acquired, converted, and
multiplexed inputs from FDR data sensors located near the unit (e.g., DAU #3 handled the
vertical and longitudinal acceleration and stabilizer position data). A processed, digital signal
was sent from each of the DAUs to the CEU for further conditioning and processing. The CEU,
located in the main equipment center, acted as a final signal processor, and sent the signal to the
FDR for recording. (Figure 1 shows the location of the FDR system components.)
Following the accident, the baggage and cargo on the airplane were weighed. The actual
takeoff gross weight was found to be 566,963 pounds. The maximum allowable takeoff gross
weight was 625,609 pounds. The actual center of gravity (CG) was found to be 22 percent mean
aerodynamic chord (MAC). According to the Tower Air B-747 Flight Manual, the CG limits for
this weight were between 13.8 and 31.5 percent MAC.
1.6.2 Maintenance Records Review
Tower Air maintained N605FF under an FAA-approved continuous maintenance
program. All appropriate airworthiness directives (ADs) had been accomplished.
British Airways performed a “C” check
8
on N605FF from December 30, 1993,
through January 29, 1994, at its facility in London. Tower Air sent two inspectors to the facility
to monitor the work and to ensure that the maintenance was performed in accordance with the
Tower Air General Maintenance Manual (GMM). Random inspection of selected work cards by
the Safety Board revealed that the individual work cards had been signed off by British Airways
personnel. However, the Tower Air inspectors did not complete the “C” check work
accountability form that would have attested to the completion of the entire “C” check, as
required by the GMM.
8
The FAA-approved maintenance program for Tower Air includes seven specific checks that must be
accomplished at various calendar or operating time intervals. They range from Transit Service,
completed at each departure, to “D” checks performed every 72 months. The 15-month service is
accomplished at a mid-point (9-15 months) between “C” checks, which are at 24-month intervals.
9
A 15-month service check was accomplished on N605FF in March 1995 at the
Tower Air facility at JFK. During the service check, all landing gear were removed because of
time-in-service limitations. The part numbers of the replacement landing gear (appropriate for
the B-747-121 model) were different from those specified in the Tower Air illustrated parts
catalogue for the B-747-136. Documentation from Boeing showed that the part numbers of the
replacement gear could be substituted on the B-747-136. However, Tower Air maintenance
personnel had installed the gear without the documentation from the manufacturer; this
documentation was obtained when the issue was raised during the Safety Board’s investigation of
the accident.
Interviews with the mechanics, maintenance supervisors, inspectors, parts stores
personnel, and purchasing personnel involved in the landing gear replacement revealed that no
one had cross-checked the part numbers on the landing gear with the carrier’s illustrated parts
catalog. The Tower Air GMM specified that it was the responsibility of each mechanic and
inspector to ensure that all parts being installed were approved in the manual. The GMM also
required the receiving inspector to compare the serial number, part number, and quantity with the
applicable purchase order or repair order.
On September 28, 1995, FDR S/N 2074 was removed from N605FF for a routine
annual check of the airplane’s FDR systems. The annual check is performed to determine the
validity and accuracy of the mandatory recorded parameters and consists of a readout of the data
recorded during recent flights. Nominal data for all recorded parameters would indicate normal
functioning of the FDR, CEU, and three DAUs. FDR S/N 2074 was replaced with S/N 2461.
The readout was performed by TWA.
On November 3, 1995, after FDR S/N 2074 was read out, TWA issued a
memorandum to Tower Air identifying six data parameters that were “suspect.” These
parameters were (1) elevator position; (2) radio communications; (3) flap outboard position; (4)
vertical acceleration; (5) longitudinal acceleration; and (6) No. 2 reverser position.
Aircraft maintenance log page No. 38147 for N605FF, dated December 1, 1995,
indicated two specific writeups on the FDR system. The first indicated that the FDR “OFF” light
(located on the pilot’s overhead panel) flickered in flight. The corrective action shown in the
logbook was to replace FDR S/N 2461 with FDR S/N 2152. This action eliminated the
flickering light. The second writeup indicated that the FDR system test (located on the flight
engineer’s panel) was inoperative in flight and on the ground. The corrective action for this item
was deferred initially. On December 2, 1995, the CEU was replaced and the system checked
satisfactorily. The aircraft was then returned to service.
On December 4, 1995, the six “suspect” FDR system parameters were entered in
the aircraft maintenance log, and the discrepancies were transferred to the deferred items log.
According to the maintenance log, on December 7, 1995, the last day that the discrepancy could
be deferred according to the FAA-approved Master Minimum Equipment List (MMEL), the
corrective action taken was to replace DAU #1. There was also the annotation, “Performed
functional check as per 31-31-00 [Maintenance Manual].”
10
According to the mechanic/supervisor who did the work, the required functional
check of the FDR on N605FF was not accomplished immediately after DAU #1 was replaced
because the “thumb wheel” test equipment was not available during the night shift, when the
DAU was replaced. The day shift mechanic/supervisor stated that he performed the required
functional check of the FDR after he obtained the tester from TWA. A sales ticket issued by
TWA for rental of a “thumb wheel” tester indicated that it was issued to Tower Air at 0800 on
December 7, for 4 hours. The mechanic/supervisor could not remember when he obtained the
tester or who assisted him, but he stated that the test required about 1½ to 2 hours with another
person’s help. He stated that the test could be done at the gate; however, he indicated that any
maintenance on the airplane (including the functional test of the FDR system) must be completed
2 hours before the scheduled departure time. Tower Air records indicate that N605FF departed
JFK at 0955 on December 7, 1995, and did not return until 2015 that evening.
1.7 Meteorological Information
The National Weather Service (NWS) surface analysis charts for 1000 and 1300
showed a strong area of low pressure located southeast of Nantucket Island moving slowly
northeast. Instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), moderate-to-strong northerly surface
winds, and light-to-moderate snow were indicated west and southwest of the system over the
New England area.
Pertinent surface weather observations at JFK were, in part, as follows:
1050--Record--partial obscuration, estimated ceiling 700 feet broken,
2,000 feet overcast, visibility 1 1/2 miles, light snow and fog, temperature
24 oF, dew point 21 oF, wind 350o at 13 knots, altimeter setting 29.54
inches of Hg; Remarks--0.5 sky obscured by snow.
1150--Record--partial obscuration, estimated ceiling 700 feet broken,
2,000 feet overcast, visibility 1 1/2 miles, light snow and fog, temperature
24 oF, dew point 21 oF, wind 330o at 11 knots, altimeter setting 29.53
inches Hg; Remarks--0.5 sky obscured by snow.
The JFK Surface Weather Observations Form for December 20, 1995, showed
that 1.3 inches of snow had fallen between 0645 and 1245. The form also indicated that the peak
wind for the day had been from the north at 24 knots at 1014. No local or special weather
observation was made at the time of the accident, as required by NWS directives, because the
weather observer was not notified of the accident in time to fulfill this requirement.
The wind direction and speed measurements included in the official weather
observations at JFK were obtained from the NWS anemometer located 20 feet above the airport
surface, between runways 4L-22R and 4R-22L, about ¾ mile northeast of where the airplane
departed off the side of the runway. Given the prevailing northwesterly winds, this location was
downwind of the terminal buildings at JFK. Research indicates that no significant sheltering
11
effects exist beyond 20 building-heights downwind of an obstacle. The anemometer was more
than 50 building-heights downwind of the terminal buildings.
An NWS Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) unit that included an
anemometer positioned 10 meters above the surface was located about ½ mile further to the
northeast. This unit had been calibrated and was operating on the day of the accident, but it had
not yet been commissioned by the NWS. Consequently, the weather data that it collected were
not included in official observations. The ASOS unit recorded a gust of 22 knots between 1111
and 1121 (15 to 25 minutes before the accident).
1.8 Aids to Navigation
There were no pertinent problems with navigational aids.
1.9 Communications
No external communications difficulties were reported.
1.10 Airport Information
1.10.1 General
JFK Airport is located 13 feet above sea level. It is owned by the City of New
York and operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PNY&NJ). It was
certificated under 14 CFR Part 139, and is an Index E aircraft rescue and fire fighting (ARFF)
facility.
9
The runway configuration includes four runways: 4L/22R, 4R/22L, 13L/31R, and
13R/31L. Runway 4L, the accident runway, is 11,351 feet long and 150 feet wide, with an
asphalt surface that has transverse grooves the full length. It is configured for Category I
instrument landings and is equipped with high intensity runway edge lights and centerline lights.
1.10.2 Runway Conditions
On the morning of the accident, runway 4L had been closed to aircraft operations
for snow removal, sanding, and inspection until about 1000. Runway 31L was closed until about
1134, when the airport duty manager informed the control tower that the runway had checked
satisfactorily. According to the transcript of radio transmissions on Kennedy Air Traffic Control
Tower ground control frequency, at 1131 the ground controller transmitted, “…American
fourteen seventy three the word is just now (we’re) switching to thirty one left [at taxiway]
double kilo for departure so you can plan on that.”
9
Title 14 CFR Part 139 requires, for scheduled air carrier service with aircraft at least 200 feet in length,
that at a minimum the airport be equipped with at least three ARFF vehicles with at least 6,000 gallons of
water for foam production.
12
FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 150/5200-30A advises airport operators to perform
friction checks of runway surfaces during ice/snow conditions. The AC does not specify the
method of friction measurement to be used, although it provides a list of recommended methods.
The PNY&NJ operations services supervisor stated that she conducted a
coefficient of friction measurement survey of runway 4L at 0933, using a Saab friction test
vehicle, just after the runway had been sanded. After driving the full length of the runway, 20
feet to the right of centerline, the supervisor estimated that the surface was approximately 60
percent covered with patches of snow and ice. The friction coefficient results from the test,
which was completed at 0950, averaged 0.32; with 0.39 in the touchdown zone, 0.26 at the midpoint, and 0.31 in the rollout area. Two additional friction tests were run after the accident at
1147 and 1155 indicating 0.31 and 0.27, respectively, in the touchdown zone area of runway 4L,
where the on-runway portion of the accident sequence occurred.
PNY&NJ procedures state, “When [friction] readings are 0.40 and below for any
one-third of the runway and taken on acceptable conditions, they should be reported to the tower
[emphasis in original].” PNY&NJ Operations Office personnel stated that the 0933 friction
results were relayed to the control tower by telephone before runway 4L was reopened at 1000.
The control tower had no record that this information was received from PNY&NJ. The 0933
coefficient of friction measurements were entered into the PNY&NJ operations office computer
at 1240 (after the accident), with the annotation, “ATCT advised.”
The PNY&NJ assistant chief operations supervisor, who was serving as the
airport duty manager at the time of the accident, stated that runway 4L had been plowed and
sanded full length and width just before the 0933 friction test on December 20, 1995. He stated
that he inspected the runway before it was reopened at 1000, and he issued two notices to airmen
(NOTAMS), as follows:
1. Runway 4L-22R, patches of one inch-deep compacted snow and
ice. Runway sanded.
2. Runway 4L-22R, centerline lights obscured.
Both NOTAMS were valid at the time of the accident.
FAA Order 7110.65J, “Air Traffic Control,” paragraph 3-3-4 (d)(1) provides the
following procedures for air traffic controllers to use in providing information to pilots about
runway friction measurements received from airport management:
Furnish information as received from the airport management to pilots on the
ATIS at locations where friction measurement devices such as…Saab Friction
Tester…are in use. Use the Runway followed by the MU number for each of the
three runway segments, time of report, and a word describing the cause of the
runway friction problem.
13
1.10.3 Previous Safety Board Recommendations
In 1982, the Safety Board addressed the issue of runway surfaces contaminated
10
by ice or snow in three investigation reports.
11
As a result of these investigations, the Safety
Board issued the following safety recommendations to the FAA concerning runway friction
measurement technologies and procedures:
Amend 14 CFR 25.109 and 14 CFR 25.125 to require that manufacturers of
transport category airplanes provide data extrapolated from demonstrated dry
runway performance regarding the stopping performance of the airplane on
surfaces having low friction coefficients representative of wet and icy runways
and assure that such data give proper consideration to pilot reaction times and
brake antiskid control system performance. (A-82-165)
In coordination with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA), expand the current research program to evaluate runway friction
measuring devices which correlate friction measurements with airplane
stopping performance to examine the use of airplane systems to calculate and
display in the cockpit measurements of actual effective braking coefficients
attained. (A-82-168)
In a June 19, 1987, response to Safety Recommendation A-82-165, the FAA
informed the Safety Board that it had drafted a notice of proposed rulemaking to enable aircraft
manufacturers to furnish performance information “for slippery runways in unapproved sections
of airplane flight manuals .…” Further, the FAA stated that it had amended its guidance material
regarding performance information for operations on slippery runways, AC 91-6, in conjunction
with the proposed regulatory changes. However, on April 1, 1988, after reviewing what the
Board characterized as “the limited actions taken by the FAA during the [preceding] five years,”
including the FAA’s failure to issue a final rule in this area, the Safety Board classified Safety
Recommendation A-82-165 “Closed—Unacceptable Action.”
In response to Safety Recommendation A-82-168, the FAA informed the Safety
Board on April 1, 1983, that the FAA and NASA were initiating a test program “to develop a
means to provide runway braking condition information which has a more quantitative basis than
subjective pilot reports.” However, on May 5, 1987, the FAA informed the Safety Board of its
concerns that such runway friction and aircraft braking measurements could not be made
10
In this report, the term “contaminated,” as it pertains to runways, is defined as being when the runway
is not bare and dry or when the runway surface is altered such that the effective runway friction
coefficient is less than the certificated bare and dry value.
11
(1) National Transportation Safety Board. 1982. Air Florida collision with 14th Street bridge,
Washington, D.C., January 13, 1982. Aircraft Accident Report NTSB/AAR-82/8; (2) National
Transportation Safety Board. 1982. World Airways, Boston, Massachusetts, January 23, 1982. Aircraft
Accident Report NTSB/AAR-82/15; and (3) National Transportation Safety Board. 1982. Large airplane
operations on contaminated runways. Special Investigation Report NTSB/SIR-82/15.
14
meaningful and might encourage operations from a runway with a very low friction coefficient.
The Safety Board disagreed and on April 1, 1988, classified Safety Recommendation A-82-168
“Closed—Unacceptable Action.”
1.10.4 Air Carrier Slippery Runway Events
Since 1982, a review of Safety Board accident data for 14 CFR Part 121 and 135
operators showed that 15 accidents occurred during periods of ice and snow contamination. The
contamination on the surface was found to be the probable cause in two cases, and a contributing
factor in nine others.
According to the FAA Administrator’s Daily Alert Bulletin reports reviewed by
the Safety Board, six air carrier operations experienced excursions from runways or high speed
taxiways in surface conditions of ice, snow or slush contamination during the winter season of
1995-96.
12
Additionally, air carrier operations experienced five excursions from taxiways under
such conditions during the same period.
1.11 Flight Recorders
1.11.1 Flight Data Recorder
The aircraft was equipped with Sundstrand 573 FDR S/N 2152. The FDR was
received at the Safety Board laboratory in good condition, with no signs of external or internal
damage. However, the readout revealed that all parameters recorded by the FDR, except time
and synchronization, lacked orderliness and reflected random values not resembling any type of
flight operation. The FDR data were also transcribed at the TWA facility in St. Louis, Missouri,
where the system was initially installed, but the data transcription yielded the same results.
Finally, the data were provided to a private contractor, who also concluded that no meaningful
data were on the tape.
1.11.2 Cockpit Voice Recorder
The aircraft was equipped with Fairchild model A-100 cockpit voice recorder
(CVR), S/N 2059. The exterior of the CVR showed no evidence of damage, and the interior of
the recorder and tape were also undamaged. The recording from 1106:40 to 1137:21 was of
good quality.
13
It began during the preparation to start engines and ended shortly after the aircraft
12
Business Express BAE-146, Rifle CO, 2/20/96; Continental Airlines B-737, Kansas City MO, 1/18/96;
Delta Airlines B-727, Salt Lake City UT, 1/26/96; Delta Airlines B-757, Portland OR, 2/5/96; American
Airlines MD-80, Richmond VA, 2/17/96; USAir B-737, Charlotte NC, 2/3/96.
13
The Safety Board generally uses the following criteria to assess the quality of a CVR recording: a
“poor” recording is one in which a transcription is nearly impossible given that a large portion of the
recording is unintelligible; a “fair” recording is one in which a transcription is possible, but the recording
is difficult to understand; a “good” recording is one in which few words are unintelligible; and an
“excellent” recording is very clear and easily transcribed.
15
went off the runway. The Safety Board transcribed the complete duration of the tape (see
appendix B).
1.12 Wreckage and Impact Information
The first marks on the runway attributed to N605FF consisted of four pairs of
black marks located approximately 2,000 feet from the threshold of runway 4L, and centered
approximately 40 feet left of the runway centerline (see figure 2). The four pairs of tire marks
were consistent with the tires of the airplane left main wing landing gear (LMWLG), left body
landing gear (LBLG), right body landing gear (RBLG), and right main wing landing gear
(RMWLG). The tire marks on the runway were continuous, and each mark was approximately 8
inches wide. No tire marks were found from the nose landing gear either on the runway or on the
ground.
The marks were identified by tracing ground, taxiway, and runway marks back
from the airplane using the known dimensions of the airplane’s landing gear and tires.
14
When
tire marks were correlated with the landing gear that left the marks, it was determined that the
LMWLG departed the left edge of the runway (which is 75 feet left of the centerline) 2,100 feet
from the threshold, and the RMWLG departed the left edge of the runway 2,300 feet from the
threshold.
Both the LBLG and the RBLG tire marks paralleled the other tire tracks. The
landing gear made ruts 8-12 inches deep in the soft, snow-covered ground. The RMWLG ruts
intersected an area of 8”x12” asphalt blocks about 2,400 feet from the threshold and 105 feet left
of the runway centerline. Just beyond this area, the tire marks crossed an asphalt service road
connecting the runway and the parallel taxiway. The road sloped away from the runway so that
the surface elevation was about 2-3 feet higher at the RMWLG tracks than at the LMWLG
tracks. The RMWLG ruts continued to approximately 2,500 feet from the threshold and 240 feet
left of the runway centerline, where the ruts began to shallow and then ended about 2,600 feet
from the threshold and 290 feet left of the runway centerline. The ruts from the remaining main
landing gear continued to where the airplane came to rest. Two new ruts approximately 30 feet
apart and to the right of the RMWLG ruts that disappeared were associated with the Nos. 3 and 4
engines. The outboard rut ended at an electric transformer. The transformer and its concrete
base were destroyed, and pieces of the nosegear assembly were found approximately 35 feet to
the left of the transformer. The No. 4 engine was located about 3,700 feet from the runway
threshold and 500 feet left of the runway centerline. The airplane came to rest approximately
4,800 feet from the runway threshold and 600 feet to the left of the runway centerline.
14
The distance between the LMWLG strut and the RMWLG strut is 36.1 feet. The distance between the
LBLG and the RBLG is 12.6 feet. The distance between the center of an inboard and outboard tire for
each landing gear is 4 feet.
17
The fuselage forward of the No. 2 main entry door and below the floor level
received severe impact damage. It was crushed upward where the nose landing gear had
collapsed, still attached, aft into the fuselage. The collapse of the nose landing gear and
subsequent crushing of the fuselage lower lobe resulted in significant damage to the electronics
bay, and disrupted the normal operation of the PA and interphone systems. There was no impact
damage to the fuselage above the floor line, and fuselage damage aft of the No. 2 main entry door
was limited to fiberglass fairings.
The left wing, flight controls, and pylons for engine Nos. 1 and 2 were not
damaged. The primary structure of the right wing and ailerons was not damaged. The inboard
leading edge flaps and the inboard trailing edge mid and aft flaps received impact damage. The
No. 3 engine pylon was severely damaged and bent slightly inboard. The No. 4 engine pylon was
also severely damaged and separated forward of the rear engine mounts.
1.13 Medical and Pathological Information
In accordance with the requirements of Appendix I of Part 121, each flightcrew
member submitted a urine sample at the Kennedy Medical Offices at JFK Airport for the
required testing for five drugs of abuse.
15
The samples were analyzed by Labcorp of America,
located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. The results were negative for all three
crewmembers.
In accordance with Appendix J, 14 CFR Part 121, each flightcrew member also
submitted to a Breath Alcohol Test. The tests were accomplished between 1416 and 1427 on
December 20, 1995. The results were negative for all three crewmembers.
1.14 Fire
There was no fire.
1.15 Survival Aspects
1.15.1 Cabin Interior Layout and Damage
The interior of N605FF was divided into six zones, as shown in figure 3:
• Zone A - Cabin forward of the L1/R1 doors
• Zone B - Cabin between the L1/R1 and L2/R2 doors
• Zone C - Cabin between the L2/R2 and L3/R3 doors
• Zone D - Cabin between the L3/R3 and L4/R4 doors
• Zone E - Cabin aft of the L4/R4 doors
• Upper Deck - Cabin area above the main deck, aft of L1/R1 doors
15
The five drugs of abuse specified by the regulation for postaccident testing are marijuana, cocaine,
opiates, phencyclidine, and amphetamines.
19
The cabin floor sustained substantial damage in Zone A. The floor was displaced
upward approximately 2 feet in the center of the cabin at seat rows 6, 7, and 8. At least three of
the four attach points for each of the seats in this area remained secured to the seat tracks, and no
injuries were reported in this area.
1.15.2 Galley Equipment Description
The cabin of N605FF had three galley complexes, each of which consisted of two
galleys facing each other. The forward complex was between the L1/R1 exits; the mid complex
was between the L2/R2 exits; and the aft complex was between the L4/R4 exits.
Each galley contained both permanent equipment and removable equipment.
Permanent equipment included ovens, coffee makers, and waste bins. Removable equipment
included carts (meal or beverage carts used in the aisles), and containers (also referred to as bins,
and usually not moved during the flight). Ice carts, slightly larger than the meal and beverage
carts, were also part of the removable equipment on the former TWA airplanes in the Tower Air
fleet, including N605FF.
According to Tower Air procedures, the ice carts are installed by the caterers
before each flight. Flight attendants do not move them from the galley during the in-flight
service, but they are responsible for ensuring security of the galley equipment, including the ice
carts, based on their training, the Flight Attendants Manual, and the Galley & Service Equipment
Training Manual.
Tower Air required that all of the removable equipment, including the ice carts, be
secured with both primary and secondary locking devices. Primary latching of meal and
beverage carts on N605FF was accomplished by placing each cart over a "mushroom" (a
restraining spool mounted on the floor under the galley counter). The carts were secured to the
mushrooms by a locking mechanism mounted beneath the cart. A cart could be removed from
the mushroom by releasing the cart's brakes, which released the cart from the mushroom.
In contrast to the “mushroom” locking mechanism used to secure meal and
beverage carts, the ice cart in each galley area of N605FF locked onto a retaining tongue
mounted on the floor of the galley with a lever located on the bottom of the cart. The lever
movement inserted a pin through a circular opening in the retaining tongue (see figure 4).
Secondary latches were installed for each cart in the galleys of N605FF. The
secondary latches were levers that when rotated, covered a portion of the cart to prevent the cart
from moving from its stowage location. In N605FF, some secondary latches were mounted to
the galley counter, some were mounted on galley support structures, and some were mounted on
trash bin doors. The secondary latch for the ice cart located in the forward-facing portion of the
aft galley was mounted on the galley counter.
21
Based on its manufacture date of 1971, according to the FAA, N605FF was
subject to type certificate requirements regarding the prevention of items of mass, stowed in a
passenger or crew compartment, from becoming a hazard by shifting under the appropriate
maximum load factors corresponding to the specified flight and ground load conditions, and to
the emergency landing conditions of 14 CFR 25.561(b)
and (c).
16
The airplane was also subject to provisions of 14 CFR Part 25.785(h)(4), which
required that each flight attendant seat be “located to minimize the probability that occupants
would suffer injury by being struck by items dislodged from service areas, stowage
compartments, or service equipment.”
TWA had installed secondary latches on N605FF in 1982. The TWA engineering
drawings for the installation of those latches included some latches mounted on doors rather than
rigid structure. On N605FF, in the galleys where waste bins were installed, secondary latches
were mounted on the waste bin doors. Further, the engineering drawings did not include a latch
mounted on the galley counter as the secondary latch for the ice cart, as found in the aft galley of
N605FF. TWA advised the Safety Board that the latches were installed when decorative, nonstructural doors, were removed. The modification order stated that FAA approval was not
required; however, a copy of the modification order was provided to the FAA.
On January 6, 1994, the FAA issued AC 25.785-1A, “Flight Attendant Seat and
Torso Restraint System Installations.” The AC provided the following guidance on secondary
latching mechanisms:
If the primary latching devices fail, the additional restraint devices [secondary
latches] should be designed to retain all items of mass under the inertial loads
specified as a part of the airplane type certification basis….
...Service experience with galleys, stowage compartments, and serving carts
has shown that some of the presently designed latches or locks, of themselves,
may not adequately minimize the probability of items being dislodged under
operational and emergency load conditions….
Flight attendant seats that are located within a longitudinal distance equal to
three rows of seats measured fore and aft from the center of a galley or
16
14 CFR 25.561 concerns Emergency Landing Conditions. It states, in part, that the airplane must be
designed to protect each occupant as follows:...(b) The structure must be designed to give each occupant
every reasonable chance of escaping serious injury in a minor crash landing when - (1) Proper use is
made of seats, belts, and all other safety design provisions;...(3) The occupant experiences the following
ultimate inertia forces acting separately relative to the surrounding structure: (i) Upward, 3.0g, (ii)
Forward, 9.0g (iii) Sideward, 3.0g on the airframe; and 4.0g on the seats and their attachments. (iv)
Downward, 6.0g (v) Rearward, 1.5g (c) The supporting structure must be designed to restrain, under all
loads up to those specified in paragraph (b)(3) of this section, each item of mass that could injure an
occupant if it came loose in a minor crash landing.
22
stowage compartment area, with the exception of underseat and overhead
stowage bins, are not in compliance with para. 25.785(j) [sic (h)(4)] unless
additional restraint devices (dual latching devices or equivalent) are
incorporated to retain all items of mass in the galley...under the inertia loads
specified as part of the airplane type certification basis.
1.15.3 Flight Attendant Galley Preflight Procedures
According to the Tower Air Flight Attendant Manual, all company flight
attendants had preflight duties, and four flight attendants on a B-747 were specifically
responsible for preflight preparation and inspection of the galleys. The R1 flight attendant
17
was
responsible for preflighting the forward galley; L2, the mid galley; L4 (who was designated
assistant purser on the flight), the aft galley; and UD, the upper deck galley. These preflight
duties included testing cart brakes, primary locking mechanisms, and secondary latches.
Following this accident, Tower Air Inflight Service Department issued a
memorandum to all flight attendants on January 31, 1996, describing the operation of the ice
module locking mechanism and the flight attendant responsibility to ensure that carts are
properly locked.
1.15.4 Flight Attendant Galley Preflight Activities
The R1, L2, L4, and UD flight attendants on the accident flight stated that their
galleys were secure for takeoff. These flight attendants stated that they secured the carts by
engaging the cart brakes and placing secondary latches over the carts.
The L4 flight attendant was responsible for securing the aft galley. This was her
first trip working the galley. She recalled that she was able to secure everything without
difficulty. The L4 flight attendant stated that she secured the ice cart module in the aft galley by
moving the lever underneath the cart to the secured position.
In contrast to the statements of the L4 flight attendant, the R4 flight attendant
recalled that while she was icing down her beverage cart before departure, she noted that the ice
cart swing brake was not secured to the retaining tongue. She stated that she tried to lock the
cart, but could not. She stated that she advised the L4 flight attendant that the ice cart was not
secure and asked the R5 flight attendant if he could secure the cart. The R5 flight attendant did
not recall the R4 attendant making this request.
17
This report refers to flight attendants according to their emergency exit door assignments (refer back to
figure 2 for cabin layout and door labels).
23
1.15.5 Events in the Cabin During the Accident Sequence
The R4 flight attendant, who was seated in the aft-facing jumpseat at door R4,
reported that during the accident sequence, she sensed movement toward the right side of the
runway with a skidding sensation. Later she heard “crunching, tearing” noises, and saw the No.
4 engine skidding down the runway before the airplane stopped. She recalled that while the
airplane was still moving, many overhead bins opened and spilled their contents. The larger side
bins in the cabin nearby also opened and spilled even more debris. During the airplane’s slide,
she heard a “metal sound” in the aft galley, and she saw an ice cart and a beverage cart come
loose. The ice cart hit her right shoulder, and she suffered a broken right shoulder. The ice cart
continued to move forward and stopped upright in front of the empty passenger seats across from
her jumpseat. The loose beverage cart hit the ice cart and then came to rest tilted against the
seats, blocking the R4 exit. The R4 flight attendant recalled that she and several passengers
smelled kerosene after the airplane stopped. She commented that if she had not been injured, she
would have evacuated.
The L4 flight attendant stated that when the aircraft stopped abruptly, the
overhead bins in Zone E opened, and luggage spilled “all over the place.” After the airplane
stopped, the L4 attendant noted that the secondary latch for the ice cart on the forward-facing
side of the aft galley was bent upward.
The R2 flight attendant observed that a bin in the mid galley had popped out about
2-3 inches during the accident sequence, and that the L2 flight attendant got out of her seat to
secure it while the airplane was still sliding.
The UD flight attendant reported that the doors to several bins opened during the
accident sequence. She recalled that various items of personal equipment she had stowed came
out of the bins.
Based on the recollections of all flight attendants, the only flight attendants who
shouted brace position commands during the accident sequence while the airplane was still
moving, as required by Tower Air procedures, were those at the R1, R4, and UD positions.
The purser stated that when the airplane stopped, he tried to call the cockpit on the
interphone. Although he heard the interphone tone, he received no answer. He ran upstairs to
the cockpit to get instructions from the captain, and was told that because there was no fire or
danger, the passengers should be kept on board out of the weather. He recalled that the captain
also advised him that the rescue personnel would come to the L1 door. The purser stated that the
captain did not inquire about the cabin condition or injuries, and the purser did not report the
upward displacement of the floor in the forward cabin (Zone A). The purser returned to the L1
door position and made a PA announcement instructing passengers to remain seated. Flight
attendants stated that, following the accident, PA announcements were heard in the front of the
airplane, but they were not heard in Zones D and E or the rear part of Zone C. Three flight
attendants stated that they attempted to use the interphone to communicate with the purser, and
24
these attempts were unsuccessful. According to their statements, none of the flight attendants
attempted to use the megaphones.
The deadheading company flight attendant identified himself to the purser and
asked if he needed help. The purser told him, “Just keep the people seated.” The deadheading
flight attendant then repeated the announcement for the passengers to remain seated using the PA
at the L2 station.
The purser stated that he did not think they were going to evacuate at any time.
He also thought that the PA announcements were heard throughout the entire cabin, and he did
not attempt to make an “All Call”
18
interphone call to communicate with the other flight
attendants. According to the flight attendants, both the PA and interphone systems were
operating properly before the accident.
1.15.6 Deplanement
When the rescue personnel arrived at the airplane, they proceeded to the L1 exit.
The purser was unable to disarm the emergency evacuation slide at the L1 door because the armdisarm handle would not move to the manual position. He next tried the R1 door, but the girt
bar
19
remained engaged even after the arm/disarm handle was moved to the manual position. He
next tried the L2 handle, which he was able to place in the manual position, and the L2 door was
opened by the rescue personnel. The purser then announced instructions about deplanement over
the PA system. Passengers deplaned by rows and boarded buses. The purser stated that he
learned about the injured flight attendant during the deplanement.
1.15.7 Flight Attendant Training
Flight attendants at Tower Air were trained in accordance with an FAA-approved
program. At the time of the accident, under the provisions of this program, new hires received
40 hours of basic indoctrination covering safety regulations, company policies, procedures,
forms, and organizational and administrative practices. They then received 16 hours of initial
training (14 hours classroom and 2 hours competency check) on B-747 cabin familiarization
(including the aircraft systems they would be operating), authority of the pilot-in-command, and
passenger handling. They also received 28 hours of emergency procedures training, including
drills that provided instruction and practice in the use of emergency equipment and procedures.
18
The communication system includes a “master call indicator panel” and PA and interphone headset at
each flight attendant station as well as in the cockpit. The “All Call” signal permits simultaneous
interphone communication with all flight attendant stations and the cockpit. When the “All Call” code is
used, a chime sounds at every station, and the crew call light on its master call indicator panel will flash
(as opposed to a steady light for a normal crew call).
19
A bar installed through a sleeve in the girt extension of the evacuation slide, which is installed in
floor-mounted brackets to enable automatic slide deployment when the slide is in the “armed” position.
25
Training on operating the serving carts was included in the 16-hour initial training
module. This training was conducted in a classroom, and one of the three types of carts in the
fleet was brought to the classroom for demonstration purposes. Students were shown how the
brakes operated and were given a chance to maneuver the cart. According to routine flight
attendant training practices at Tower Air, the cart used for this demonstration could have been
any of the meal or beverage carts found on any of the various models of the Tower Air airplanes.
Ice carts, which have different primary attachment mechanisms from those of most other carts,
were not specifically included in classroom cart demonstrations. At a separate time, students
were shown the galleys while performing a “walkaround” on the actual airplane; however, no
carts were installed in the galleys during the “walkaround” training session.
Neither slides nor photographs of carts were included in the Tower Air initial
flight attendant training program. Students received a “Galley & Service Equipment” handbook
during initial training that included a diagram showing an “Atlas”-style cart, which was used on
some B-747s in the Tower Air fleet, but not on the former TWA aircraft. The “Atlas” cart had a
different primary attachment mechanism from the “TWA” beverage and ice carts installed on
N605FF. This handbook also described preflight procedures for the galley, again without
specific reference to the “TWA”-type carts.
Flight attendants did not receive crew resource management (CRM) training at
Tower Air, nor were they required to at the time of the accident. As part of its 1992 special
investigation report
20
on flight attendant training, the Safety Board issued Safety
Recommendation A-92-77 to the FAA:
Require that flight attendants receive Crew Resource Management training
that includes group exercises in order to improve crewmember coordination
and communication.
Subsequently, the FAA amended 14 CFR 121.421, “Flight Attendants: Initial and
Transition Ground Training,” and 121.427, “Recurrent Training,” to require CRM training for
flight attendants. The effective date for the new requirement was March 19, 1996, with all flight
attendants to be trained by March 1999.
Also, the FAA completed rulemaking that mandates CRM training for flightcrews
and flight attendants and issued Advisory Circular AC 120-51B, Crew Resource Management
Training, which recommends initial and recurrent training including communication and
coordination exercises. Because of these actions, the Safety Board classified Safety
Recommendation A-92-77 “Closed--Acceptable Action” on July 15, 1996. However, based on
safety issues previously identified by the Board in its accident investigations, the Board
encouraged the FAA to provide additional guidance to air carriers about the importance of group
20
National Transportation Safety Board. 1992. Flight attendant training and performance during
emergency situations. Washington, DC. June 9, 1992. Special Investigation Report NTSB/SIR-92/02.
26
exercises involving both cockpit cabin coordination and coordination among the individual
members of a flight attendant crew.
At the time of the accident, Tower Air flight attendants qualified for the purser
and assistant purser positions
21
after receiving 5 additional days of training. Much of the subject
matter was related to customer service functions, but the training also included reviews of
emergency procedures, safety regulations, and coordination and communication among
flightdeck crew, flight attendants, ground staff, and operations personnel.
Before departure, the flight attendant who had originally been scheduled to serve
as purser on the accident flight was replaced by the scheduled assistant purser. This flight
attendant had completed a 5-day training course for purser qualification in March 1995.
However, he had not served as purser before this flight.
Tower Air procedures assign the assistant purser to the L4 door position. The
flight attendant who was assigned the duties of assistant purser at the L4 door, as a result of the
last-minute cabin crew change, had not attended the assistant purser training program.
1.16 Tests and Research
1.16.1 Flight Recorder Tests
To determine the operating capability of the FDR components installed on
N605FF at the time of the accident, the Safety Board installed and tested the CEU and DAUs in
various combinations on a sister ship (N606FF) that had an operative FDR system and
components. During the test, individual parameter data sent to the FDR were monitored and
recorded by use of an ARINC 563 hand-held tester, which samples the data stream sent to an
FDR by the CEU.
When the three DAUs from N605FF were tested with the sister ship's CEU,
DAUs #1 and #2 operated normally, but no data were output from DAU #3. In addition, the
CEU self-test identified DAU #3 as inoperative.
When the CEU from N605FF was tested with the sister ship's DAUs, only the
synchronization and time data were valid, and a valid CEU self-test could not be performed.
This data condition was similar to the conditions found on the accident FDR recording.
21
The positions of purser and assistant purser are not FAA-mandated; the company uses these positions
as part of its cabin crew assignments. According to the Tower Air Flight Attendants Manual, the purser
provides “work guidance” to all flight attendants and has complete “responsibility for passenger service
and safety requirements of the flight.” The manual states that the assistant purser directs flight attendants
in the performance of their duties, ensures accurate provisioning of galleys, and ensures compliance with
proper service procedures.
27
1.16.2 Cockpit Voice Recorder Sound Spectral Study
The area microphone channel of the CVR contained tones that were associated
with sounds of the aircraft engines. The recording was examined on a computerized spectrum
analyzer that displays and records frequencies. The engine speeds corresponding to the sound
signatures were calculated. The engine traces were identifiable above 27 percent N1 (engine fan
speed). During the initial takeoff roll, two distinct traces were audible, but once the engines
exceeded 70 percent N1 only one engine-related sound signature was identified. It could not be
determined which engines were creating the identified sound.
After air traffic control’s (ATC) issuance of the takeoff clearance to flight 41, as
recorded on the CVR, the engines accelerated to approximately 40 percent N1 and leveled off for
approximately 4 seconds. The engine sounds then increased in frequency for 13 seconds, and
they stabilized at the equivalent of 87.5 percent N1 after a brief overshoot to approximately 89
percent. The sounds continued at a constant frequency for approximately 6 seconds (35 seconds
after the airplane was cleared for takeoff). After this period, the engine sound began to decrease
to a minimum of 72.6 percent N1. Approximately 42 seconds after takeoff clearance, the engine
sound then began to increase again, reaching a maximum of about 91 percent N1. The engine
sound then decreased sharply after 2 seconds and was finally lost in the background noise at
approximately 59 percent N1.
1.17 Organizational and Management Information
Tower Air, Inc., was incorporated in 1982 and obtained an air carrier certificate in
1983. At the time of the accident, the company provided scheduled and charter passenger and
cargo service in diverse international and domestic markets. Between 1990 and 1995, the carrier
increased its fleet of B-747s from 4 to 17 airplanes. At the time of the accident, Tower was
operating 18 B-747s with 132 pilots, 69 flight engineers, and 805 flight attendants.
1.17.1 Reporting Relationships Among Operational Managers
At the time of the accident, the vice president of operations (VPO) exercised daily
operational control of Tower Air through the director of operations (DO), the chief pilot, the
manager of flight control, and the director of crew scheduling, all of whom reported directly to
the VPO.
The Federal Aviation Regulations do not require air carriers to have a VPO; nor
do these regulations define the responsibilities or minimum qualifications of the VPO when this
management position exists at an air carrier. In contrast, the DO is a required management
position for all air carriers, under the provisions of 14 CFR 121.59 and 119.65. Minimum
qualifications of the DO are set forth in 14 CFR 121.61 and 119.67. Among other requirements,
the DO is required to hold an ATP certificate and have previous experience as a manager or PIC
of flight operations conducted under Part 121.
28
Under 14 CFR 121.133, Tower Air was required to “prepare and keep current a
manual for the use and guidance of flight and ground operations personnel in conducting its
operations.” The Tower Air document that fulfilled this requirement was the company’s General
Operations Manual (GOM).
Tower Air personnel records indicate that the owner’s son, who was not a pilot,
was appointed VPO on November 20, 1995. The former VPO became the DO and vice president
of training and publications. At that time, the reporting relationships between the new VPO and
subordinate personnel also were changed. The DO reported directly to the VPO. The chief pilot,
who was managing the daily flight activities, the flightcrew training, and supervision of the
pilots, check airmen, and flight instructors of the airline, also reported directly to the VPO.
According to statements of the VPO, the DO, and the chief pilot, these reporting
relationships were in effect before the date of the accident. The Tower Air GOM, section 2.2,
revision 153, dated February 1, 1996, included descriptions of these revisions to the company’s
organization structure and management duties and responsibilities. This section of the revised
GOM described the duties and responsibilities of the DO, in part, as follows:
Plans, administers, and directs the overall accomplishment of flight
operations in accordance with FAA regulations and company policy and
procedures.
Despite these responsibilities given the DO by the GOM, the reporting
relationships established by Tower Air before the accident did not provide the DO with the
responsibility to supervise the daily operational and training activities, and the operational
personnel, that were under the control of the chief pilot.
According to the FAA principal operations inspector (POI), the FAA first received
verbal notification of this change in management personnel and reporting relationships on
December 20, 1995, before the accident occurred. The POI described the notification he received
on that date as one of a planned management change, rather than a management change that had
already occurred.
In a letter dated January 25, 1996, the POI assigned to Tower Air requested an
updated organizational chart and a list of duties and responsibilities of the VPO, DO, and chief
pilot. The company provided the POI with GOM revision 153, dated February 1, 1996. On
February 29, 1996, the POI sent a letter rejecting the new organization, stating the following, in
part:
The Vice President of Operations has been assigned several duties and
responsibilities for which he lacks the qualifications.
The Operations Organizational Chart shows the chief pilot, Director of Crew
Scheduling, and Manager of Flight Control reporting directly to the Vice
29
President of Operations and not through the appropriate chain of command,
normally associated with aviation experience.
Tower Air’s chief executive officer responded on March 20, 1996, in part, that,
“Our research of the applicable laws, regulations, and legal precedents reveals no objective basis
for your decision. Nevertheless, this is to advise that your position will be addressed in revision
154 of the General Operations Manual.” This revision subsequently was issued and reflected the
chief pilot reporting through the DO to the VPO.
1.17.2 Director of Flight Safety
In August 1995, Tower Air engaged the part-time services of a consultant to fill
the company’s newly created position of director of flight safety and evaluation. He served as a
“contract employee” with a guarantee of 10 paid days per month, and a daily rate for additional
days worked.
To foster the communication of safety information from line crews to managers,
the director of flight safety and evaluation established a “CEO’s hotline,” developed a concern
form with drop boxes on company premises, and reviewed crewmembers’ trip reports. At the
time of the accident, he had developed an internal evaluation program, including provisions for
internal and external audits of station, flight operations, cabin, and ramp safety. However, at the
time of the accident, Tower Air had not yet formalized the personnel assignments to perform
these audits, and none had been performed.
1.18 Additional Information
1.18.1 Operating Procedures - Boeing 747
The Tower Air B-747 Flight Manual (p. 4.30.3) states, “Takeoffs on slippery
runways are not recommended if the crosswind exceeds 15 knots…”
The manual describes the following technique for nosewheel steering use during
takeoffs (p.4.24.3):
Rudder pedal steering [nosewheel steering controlled by pilot inputs through
the rudder pedals] should be used after the aircraft is aligned on the takeoff
runway with the tiller guarded only until 80 knots. If deviations from the
runway centerline cannot be controlled during the start of the takeoff prior to
rudder effectiveness, immediately reject the takeoff.
It also specifies the following for takeoffs on slippery runways (p.4.30.3 and
pp.4.30.3-5):
Set takeoff thrust slowly and smoothly and correct deviations from the runway
centerline with immediate steering and/or rudder action and slight differential
30
thrust if required.… During takeoffs on icy runways, the lag in nosewheel
steering and the possibility of nosewheel skidding must be realized and
corrections must be anticipated. Directional control from nosewheel steering
and aerodynamic rudder forces should be optimized during the low speed
portions of the takeoff roll by limiting the rudder pedal input to approximately
1/2 of the full rudder pedal travel for airplanes with rudder pedal steering. For
airplanes without rudder pedal steering, limit the tiller input to 10o and use the
rudder as required. Rudder effectiveness is less than nosewheel steering
effectiveness below approximately 50 knots. Increased directional control
may be obtained by the use of the ailerons between 60 and 100 knots.
The manual contains guidance for landing on slippery runways (p.4.30.6), as
follows:
Avoid large, abrupt steering and rudder pedal inputs that may lead to
overcontrol and skidding.… The optimum nosewheel steering angle varies
with runway condition and airplane speed, and is about 1-2o for a very slippery
runway. Keep forward pressure on the control column to improve nosewheel
steering effectiveness.
The manual further amplifies a discussion of the landing rollout that the optimum
nosewheel steering angle for a slippery runway is 3-5o, and 1-2o for a very slippery runway.
A Tower Air 1994 Standards Memo, dated February 11, 1994, provided the
following additional guidance in a section entitled, “Steering”:
Use rudder pedal steering for takeoff. Use of the tiller is not recommended
unless rudder steering is not sufficient during the early takeoff roll. As the
speed increases during takeoff with a crosswind, apply ailerons as required to
maintain wings level. Avoid large changes in control inputs. The directional
control from the rudder becomes more effective than nosewheel steering at
about 50 knots. If directional control cannot be maintained by 50 knots
without the use of the tiller, the takeoff should be aborted.
The Boeing 747 Operations Manual states the following (p.4.23.04A):
On airplanes without rudder pedal steering, limit tiller input to approximately
15o....The pilot flying should maintain control of the thrust levers until
directional control is assured (approximately 50 knots)....If deviations from the
runway centerline cannot be controlled during the start of the takeoff roll or
until the rudder becomes effective, immediately reject the takeoff.
The Boeing 747 Flight Crew Training Manual contains the following additional
information:
31
When taxiing on a slick surface at reduced speeds, use of differential outboard
engine thrust will assist in maintaining airplane momentum through the turn.
Differential braking may be more effective than nose wheel steering on very
slick surfaces.
Keep the airplane on the center line with rudder pedal steering and rudder.
The rudder becomes more effective than the rudder pedal steering at about 50
knots. Do not use nosewheel tiller during takeoff roll unless required initially
due to crosswind.
At aft CG and light weights, nose wheel steering effectiveness is reduced,
especially on slick surfaces. Application of takeoff thrust and a sudden brake
release will lighten the nose wheel loading. With this condition, a rolling
takeoff is preferred with slow, steady thrust application to takeoff thrust
during the initial roll. Hold the control column forward to improve nose
wheel steering.
1.18.2 Flightcrew Training
At the time of the accident, Tower Air conducted flightcrew training from a base
in New York, using leased flight simulators in a variety of locations. The manager of flight
training handled administrative aspects of the program and reported to the vice president of
training. However, actual training and flight standards activities were managed directly by the
chief pilot. The training staff consisted of the chief pilot, classroom instructors, and six
simulator instructors. The simulator instructors were line-qualified captains who were current
employees or retired captains who served under direct contract with the company. They were
also qualified as check airmen.
According to the chief pilot, the company was able to hire pilots already qualified
in the B-747 for a period after startup. Later it became more difficult to hire only those pilots
who were already qualified in the B-747, and hiring was opened to other applicants. At the time
of the accident, the minimum hiring requirement was 3,000 total hours, but the average
experience level of new hires was 6,000-8,000 hours with substantial experience in heavy
airplanes.
The chief pilot also stated that the training program for new hires provided little
training in slippery runway procedures, because the new hires started as first officers, and first
officers would not be performing the takeoffs or landings under these conditions (captains would
perform all of these operations, according to Tower Air practices).
The chief pilot stated that during upgrade training for captain qualification,
adverse weather takeoff procedures were presented in ground school as these procedures were
described in the Tower Air B-747 flight manual. The simulator training phase of upgrade
training introduced students to a slippery runway condition during landing that rendered the
airplane uncontrollable. Tower Air training personnel indicated that the B-747 simulators
32
available for flightcrew training were not capable of adequately simulating the more realistic
slippery runway scenarios, in which the airplane would be controllable given proper control
technique.
The Tower Air CRM training program for flightcrews included a 1-day ground
school on CRM fundamentals. This class was taught by an individual who was experienced in
CRM classroom instruction from his work at other air carriers. The CRM instructor worked
under contract for Tower Air. Nearly all cockpit personnel, including the three crewmembers
involved in the accident, had received this training by the time of the accident. Also, Tower Air
integrated CRM elements into recurrent simulator training by including line-oriented challenges
for the crew that required coordination among the flightcrew, dispatchers, and maintenance
personnel. Recurrent simulator training was conducted with complete crews (the company
elected to provide biannual recurrent training for most first officers).
1.18.3 Pilot Techniques for B-747 Takeoffs
The captain stated that his usual takeoff procedure was to hold the tiller with his
left hand until the 80-knot callout, at which time he called, “I’ve got it” and transferred his left
hand to the yoke. He stated that he used the tiller on every takeoff, and he relied on the 80-knot
call to ensure rudder effectiveness. He stated that there was no company-established maximum
speed for using the tiller. He was unable to recall the recommended maximum crosswind limit
for a slippery runway without referring to the manual.
The first officer stated that his usual takeoff procedure was to use the tiller early in
the takeoff roll, until about 80 knots when the rudder becomes effective. He commented that the
tiller becomes more sensitive as speed increases. He said that he used the tiller more in
crosswind situations. He also pointed out that rudder pedal movement gives some nosewheel
steering. He stated that the maximum crosswind component for a slippery runway was 15 knots.
The chief of flight standards described Tower Air’s standard takeoff technique at
the time of the accident: During the takeoff roll, the flying pilot should guard the tiller with one
hand for possible use during the spoolup phase from 1.1 EPR to takeoff power, in case of
asymmetrical thrust. At about 50 knots the rudder becomes controlling. At 80 knots, the flying
pilot should release the tiller and take control of the yoke.
The chief of flight standards emphasized that the proper nosewheel steering
technique for the takeoff roll should be to use rudder pedal steering, not the tiller. He explained
that the Tower Air procedure of guarding the tiller during the takeoff until attaining 80 knots was
carried over from an early Pan American procedure. The older model B-747s operated by Pan
American were not equipped with rudder pedal steering. During the 1980s, Tower Air had also
operated a small number of B-747s that were not equipped with rudder pedal steering. Although
at that time instructors encouraged the use of the tiller during the initial takeoff roll, the airline’s
policy changed about 1989 with the retirement from the fleet of the last airplane not equipped
with rudder pedal steering.
33
The chief of flight standards stated that proper tiller use, including limitations on
the use of the tiller, had been periodically emphasized in training. He added that pilots used the
tiller during taxi, and there was sometimes a natural tendency to revert to its use on the runway.
He also indicated that instructors emphasized the Boeing training manual language that
recommends limiting rudder pedal steering input to ½ full travel to get optimal cornering friction.
He indicated that it is clear that if a pilot cannot control the airplane with ½ rudder pedal travel,
the takeoff should be rejected.
The chief pilot reported that the tiller should be guarded by the flying pilot, and it
should be used for directional control only in the initial alignment with the runway centerline as
the transition is made to rudder pedal steering. He stated that the tiller can aggravate directional
control at higher speeds. He said that reverse thrust would not be used on slow-speed rejected
takeoffs (below 80 knots) and added that reverse thrust presents possible directional control
problems on slippery runways.
1.18.4 B-747 Simulator Activity
In a flight simulator study on August 8, 1996, pilots from the Safety Board, FAA,
Boeing, Tower Air, and the Tower Air Cockpit Crewmembers Association (TACCA) evaluated
various pilot inputs and their effects on directional control. The study was conducted at the
Boeing Airplane Systems Laboratory in Seattle, Washington. The simulator employed in the
tests was the “747 Cab,” a B-747 engineering simulator in the laboratory capable of being
systematically modified to reflect selected environmental conditions, aircraft performance
characteristics, and aircraft responses to control inputs. It was programmed to reflect the
operating weight, CG, flap setting, and outside air temperature applicable to the accident flight.
22
During the simulator sessions, takeoffs were attempted under dry, wet, snowy, and icy runway
friction conditions, with crosswind components of 12 and 24 knots (corresponding to the greatest
wind velocities reported by ATC to the accident crew and recorded at any time during the
morning of the accident, respectively). Gust conditions were simulated by introducing gusts of
12 and 20 knots, with 2-second and 6-second durations. Gusts were introduced at airspeeds
varying from 20 to 65 knots.
The evaluation pilots who had actual experience operating the B-747 on slippery
runways (those representing the FAA, Boeing, Tower Air, and TACCA) agreed that the Boeing
engineering simulator adequately reflected the ground handling characteristics of the actual
airplane in slippery conditions. Further, they agreed that the ground handling characteristics of
the Boeing engineering simulator were more realistic than those of the simulators used by Tower
Air for flightcrew training.
22
The simulator was a B-747-400 model, with the simulator modified to reflect the performance of the B747-136 model involved in the accident. Modifications included engine thrust, stabilizer trim setting,
rudder travel, and icy runway friction coefficient.
34
Operating the simulator under slippery runway conditions, with a left crosswind
component of 12 knots, the evaluation pilots were able to reproduce the approximate path of the
accident airplane as it deviated from the centerline and departed the runway. In these
simulations, the deviations were initiated when tiller inputs were introduced to correct minor
heading changes that occurred immediately following brake release, while the simulated airplane
was moving at slow speed. The simulator responsiveness to tiller inputs was reduced by the
slippery runway conditions. When the pilots reacted to the decreased control responsiveness by
adding more tiller, the nosewheel quickly exceeded the critical angle at which the traction
available for steering was maximized. This critical angle, which varies as a function of runway
slipperiness, airplane ground speed, and airplane slip angle, was one of the parameters recorded
during the simulations. Once the critical angle was exceeded, the nosewheel began to skid.
Further tiller inputs in either direction were ineffective, and the airplane veered to the left in a
weathervaning response to the crosswind.
During most of the simulated takeoffs that reproduced the approximate path of the
accident airplane, the airplane did not completely depart the runway surface before it attained
sufficient airspeed for the aerodynamic rudder to become effective (50-80 knots). The simulator
was capable of responding to right rudder inputs with a corrective, rightward yaw once this
airspeed was attained. At that time, pilots were able to arrest the leftward veer with rudder inputs
to regain runway heading with some or all of the simulated airplane remaining on the runway
surface. The simulator was not programmed to exhibit any additional drag or yaw that may
develop when a real airplane landing gear leaves the runway surface. The takeoff attempts
during which the left veer could not be arrested with right rudder were those in which the
heading deviation was initiated by overcontrol of tiller at the earliest part of the takeoff roll,
while airspeed was well below rudder effectiveness.
In contrast to the results obtained with pilot inputs to the tiller, simulated takeoffs
could be successfully completed without significant deviation from the runway centerline using
control inputs limited to the rudder and the nosewheel steering through the rudder pedals. The
takeoffs were controllable in the absence of tiller inputs under all runway surface conditions from
dry through icy, and with crosswinds of up to 24 knots. Further, without tiller inputs, takeoffs
were controllable under crosswind conditions of 20 knots gusting to 40 knots.
A simulated takeoff during which no aerodynamic rudder or nosewheel steering
inputs were made resulted in the simulated airplane initially drifting downwind (to the right)
momentarily, then weathervaning into the wind, and departing the left side of the runway.
Takeoffs attempted under slippery runway conditions, with a lower thrust value
from the No. 1 engine, resulted in an uncontrollable deviation to the left of centerline.
Specifically, when an asymmetric thrust of 0.05 EPR was used at the beginning of the takeoff
attempt, the simulator departed immediately from the left side of the runway, at low speed, and
before rudder effectiveness was attained. Introduction of asymmetric thrust later in the takeoff
roll had varying effects on directional controllability, depending on the airspeed attained and the
consequent rudder effectiveness.
35
During simulated takeoff attempts incorporating use of the tiller under slippery
runway conditions, variations in elevator and aileron position did not appear to significantly
affect directional controllability at low speeds.
1.18.5 Recent Tower Air Accidents and Incidents
Safety Board records reveal that Tower Air experienced two accidents and three
incidents between August 14, 1995, and June 17, 1996. In addition to the accident that is the
subject of this report, there were two uncontained engine failures (one of which was an accident),
an in-flight engine gearbox fire that had to be extinguished by an ARFF unit, and a landing
approach incident.
On August 14, 1995, a B-747-130, N603FF, operated by Tower Air, had an
uncontained engine failure in the No. 1 engine during the departure climb from JFK.
23
The crew
reported a severe vibration at 14,000 feet, declared an emergency, and returned to JFK. The
flight landed safely and taxied to the gate, where the 436 occupants deplaned normally without
injury. The JT9D7A engine had been leased to Tower Air and had accumulated 105 cycles since
it was installed on July 7, 1995. Examination of the engine revealed that pieces of a turbine
shroud had penetrated the turbine exhaust case at the 6 to 9 o’clock position, exited the cowling,
and punctured the No. 2 outboard reserve fuel tank. There was a fuel leak, but no fire developed.
On October 23, 1995, N613FF, a B-747-121, had a failure of the No. 4 engine
during the takeoff roll at Miami International Airport, Miami, Florida.
24
This was a cargo flight
with three crew and two passengers. When the airplane came to a stop, the crew observed a fire
in the area of the JT9D7A No. 4 engine. The five occupants evacuated the airplane. There were
no injuries, but the airplane was substantially damaged. Examination of the airplane revealed
that an uncontained failure of a low pressure turbine hub of the No. 4 engine damaged the
cowling, pylon, wing, aileron, flaps, fuselage, and right horizontal stabilizer.
On December 10, 1995, N616FF, a B-747-212B, sustained damage during an
instrument landing approach in fog at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
25
The flight
executed a missed approach and landed uneventfully following a second approach. A postlanding inspection revealed that the No. 4 engine cowling and right wingtip were damaged.
None of the 288 occupants were injured.
On December 20, 1995, this accident occurred at JFK.
23
NTSB file number NYC95IA192, B-747, N603FF, JFK Airport, Jamaica, NY, August14, 1995.
24
NTSB file number MIA96FA013, B-747, N613FF, Miami, FL, October 23, 1995.
25
NTSB file number DCA96WA018, B-747, N616FF, Amsterdam, Netherlands, December 10, 1995.
36
On June 17, 1996, N606FF, a B-747-136, experienced a fire warning light in the
No. 2 engine at 35,000 feet, during the arrival/descent to JFK.
26
The crew shut down the engine,
discharged both engine fire extinguishing bottles, and declared an emergency. The airplane was
met by ARFF equipment, which foamed the engine. The 414 occupants deplaned by mobile
stairs, without any injuries.
1.18.6 FAA Surveillance
At the time of the accident, the FAA New York Flight Standards District Office
(FSDO-EA15), located at Garden City, New York, was responsible for surveillance of Tower
Air. The FSDO organization included two Certificate Management Units (CMU): one managing
Tower Air and Atlas Air, and the other managing North American Airlines and the USAir
Shuttle.
The FAA POI assigned to Tower Air joined the FAA as a geographic operations
inspector in 1988. He was assigned to the Tower Air certificate as an assistant POI in 1989 and
became the POI in 1991. His previous background included experience in the commuter industry
as a director of operations and a chief pilot. He held type ratings in the B-737 and B-747, both of
which he received after he was hired by the FAA. His B-747 training was provided by TWA to
FAA personnel only, as transition training, and it lasted 1 month in June 1990. As part of that
training, he obtained about 2 hours in the airplane. The remainder of his B-747 training and
subsequent experience was obtained in the simulator. His most recent B-747 recurrent training
was completed in January 1995.
He stated that since 1991, he had always been assigned as the POI of one or more
other air carriers in addition to Tower Air. In 1993, he was assigned as the POI of Atlas Air. At
the time of the accident, Tower Air was operating 18 B-747s; Atlas was operating 11 B-747s;
and both carriers were expanding. He estimated that his time was equally divided between the
two carriers. He said that his workload was “near its limits.” At the time of the accident, he was
receiving support from an assistant POI, the geographic unit, a navigation specialist, and a cabin
safety specialist, all within FSDO-EA15. He stated that he had requested additional geographic
inspection support (surveillance of Tower Air operations by inspectors based at other domestic
and international FAA flight standards offices).
The POI stated that he obtained feedback from the geographic inspections by
reviewing information entered by the geographic inspectors into the FAA Program Tracking and
Reporting Subsystem (PTRS) data system. He stated that he attempted to review these entries
quarterly, but that his most recent review before the accident was made in June 1995.
A review of FAA PTRS records for Tower Air indicated that the POI had
performed one cockpit en route inspection from October 1, 1994, through December 31, 1995.
That inspection was performed on January 27, 1995.
26
NTSB file number IAD96IA098, B-747, N606FF, JFK Airport, Jamaica, NY, June 17, 1996.
37
The assistant POI for Tower Air was hired in 1991 as a geographic inspector. He
was appointed as an assistant POI for both Tower Air and Atlas in 1993. He had been a pilot for
TWA for 34 years and retired as a B-747 captain. He commented that he and the POI assigned to
Tower Air and Atlas were not overloaded, but whereas each carrier had been expanding at
different times previously, the two airlines were both expanding simultaneously at the time of the
accident. He stated that this had resulted in a backlog for check rides and insufficient time for
the POI and him to conduct routine en route checks. He stated that he visited the Tower Air
corporate offices about once per week, and said that he conducted en route inspections for
certification and initial operating experience (IOE).
The assistant POI said that Tower Air flightcrew training was conducted by line
pilots. He was not able to describe the company’s CRM training program for flightcrews. He
was aware that Tower Air had established a safety department about 2 months before the
accident, but he did not know whether the safety officer was a full-time employee.
A review of PTRS records revealed that the assistant POI did not perform any en
route inspections at Tower Air that were not certification related from October 1, 1994, through
December 31, 1995.
The manager of FSDO-EA15 had held that position since October 1994.
Previously, he was the assistant manager of the Eastern Region Flight Standards Division. He
stated that at the time of the accident, maintenance and avionics inspector staffing at FSDO-EA15 were at the authorized levels. He said, however, that the operations inspector staff was nine
short, including an Aircraft Program Manager (APM) position that he did not expect would be
filled. He stated that he had received authorization to fill five of the operations inspector
positions in FY 1996. He stated that he hoped to fill the remaining three positions during FY
1997. He commented that a single international en route inspection required 32 hours of an
operations inspector’s 40-hour week. He stated that FSDO-EA-15 needed more geographic
inspection support from other FAA flight standards offices.
According to the FSDO manager, as a result of an internal staffing review, it was
his intention to reorganize the office to create three CMUs. The Tower Air certificate would be
managed by one of these CMUs, with a dedicated POI and assistant POI. In September 1996, the
Safety Board was informed through informal staff communications with the FAA that these
changes had not yet occurred, but were impending.
A review of the PTRS records for Tower Air revealed that 160 operations
inspections were completed from October 1, 1994, through December 31, 1995. Most of the
inspections focused on ramp, en route cockpit and cabin, training records, check airmen, and
facilities. Also, one line station and two in-depth inspections were conducted in FY 1995. About
half of the operations inspections were conducted by geographic inspectors from the FAA’s
Eastern Region, which included FSDO-EA-15. Despite the worldwide operations of Tower Air,
no cockpit en route surveillance had been performed by inspectors from the Frankfurt, Brussels,
38
or London offices, and no operational inspections of any type had been performed by the Miami
International Field Office.
The FAA conducted a national aviation safety inspection program (NASIP)
inspection at Tower Air from September 11-20, 1995. The inspection resulted in 34 findings, of
which 23 were maintenance related and 11 were operational.
The 23 maintenance discrepancies discovered in the NASIP inspection included
11 items in which procedures were either not found in the maintenance manual or were not being
followed. Ten items related to discrepancies in maintenance logbooks, and two items related to
maintenance training. All maintenance items were closed either through Tower Air action or a
note of explanation provided by FSDO-EA-15.
The 11 operational findings included four related to flight, duty, and rest time
recordkeeping; four involved training records of flightcrew members and dispatchers; two related
to manuals; and one related to aircraft differences in emergency egress equipment that were not
reflected in safety briefings by flight attendants and in passenger briefing cards. One of the
training record discrepancies credited a captain with training in New York while he was flying a
line trip to the Far East. All 11 findings were closed by the time of the accident. Two findings,
including this pilot training record discrepancy, resulted in enforcement action by the FAA.
The executive summary of the NASIP inspection stated:
Findings documented during the inspection that are being investigated for
possible non-compliance with [Federal Aviation Regulations] are: manuals
and procedures, training records, passenger briefing cards, [Minimum
Equipment List] usage, and life limited parts records.
A review of the FAA enforcement records for Tower Air indicated that 120
enforcement actions had been closed since the carrier’s inception. As of January 1996, 17 cases
were open. Two were operational and the others were maintenance related.
1.18.7 Aircraft Performance
Because no meaningful data from the FDR were available, a study was conducted
to investigate the aircraft movement during the attempted takeoff. The aircraft manufacturer
derived total airplane thrust values from the results of the Board’s CVR sound spectrum study
(see section 1.16.2). The derived engine thrust was used to calculate ground speed and distance
traveled data, using the Boeing engineering computer simulator. Selected comments and sounds
from the CVR were also correlated to the time base. The derived information was then used to
graphically represent the probable airplane movement during the accident sequence.
This showed that at 1136:25, flight 41 was cleared for takeoff. By 1137:02,
engine N1 rpm had reached 88 percent (approximately 160,000 pounds of total thrust), the
airspeed had increased to about 40 knots, and the airplane had traveled about 630 feet from the
39
runway threshold (including a nominal 250 feet to turn onto the runway and align the nosewheel
before initiating the takeoff).
At 1137:04, the captain said, “Set time, takeoff thrust.” The power remained
stable at about 88 percent N1. The takeoff continued normally as the flight engineer confirmed
the request. At 1137:10 the words “watch it” were spoken twice. At this time, 25 seconds after
the start of the takeoff roll, the airspeed had increased to about 80 knots, and the airplane had
traveled 1,350 feet. Within a second there was an audible “click” on the CVR, and the engine
rpm began to decrease from about 88 percent to 75 percent by 1137:13. Within 2 seconds thrust
began to increase to a maximum of 91 percent N1, about the time the airplane departed the left
edge of the runway.
Between 1137:12 and 1137:15 there were comments from various flightcrew
members (“OK, losing it”; “going to the left”; “to the right”; “you’re going off”; and “going
off”). During the same period, the airspeed increased from 88 knots to 94 knots, and the airplane
traveled from 1,650 feet to 2,100 feet down the runway. At 2,100 feet, the LMWLG departed the
runway edge. The aircraft performance study indicated that the airspeed was about 97 knots at
this time. The RMWLG departed the runway edge at 1137:16.5, at an airspeed of about 100
knots.
Based on the Safety Board’s measurements of the tire marks on runway 4L
associated with the landing gear of the accident airplane, between 2,000 and 2,050 feet from the
runway threshold, the airplane was at an angle of 15.4o from the runway centerline. Between
2,050 feet and the 2,100-foot point where the LMWLG left the runway edge, the angle was 11.5o
from the centerline. The tire marks over the next 200 feet of travel indicated that the airplane
departed the runway at an angle of 10.4o to the left of the runway centerline.
40
2. ANALYSIS
2.1 General
The flightcrew was properly certificated and qualified in accordance with
applicable regulations and company requirements. All three crewmembers were experienced at
their respective positions. Evidence from crew duty time, flight time, rest time, or off-duty
activity patterns did not indicate that behavioral or physiological factors affected the flightcrew
on the day of the accident.
The ATC personnel involved with the flight were all properly certificated and
qualified.
The airplane was properly certificated, equipped, and maintained (with the
exception of the FDR system) in accordance with FARs and approved regulations. The weight
and balance were within allowable limits.
In analyzing this accident, the Safety Board focused on flightcrew actions and
decisions, B-747 procedures for slippery runway operations, the performance of air carrier
training simulators for B-747 operations on slippery runways, flight attendant actions and cabin
safety issues, Tower Air management oversight of maintenance and operations, FAA surveillance
of Tower Air, and FAA policies and procedures regarding the evaluation of slippery runways.
2.2 Flightcrew Actions and Decisions
2.2.1 Pre-takeoff Events
Although the flightcrew was not provided the runway friction values obtained by
the airport operations crew, they had obtained sufficient indications from the slipperiness of the
taxiways, the appearance of runway 4L, and the blowing snow to recognize that they were
operating in a challenging environment of wind, reduced visibility, and runway slipperiness.
Based on the existing surface and wind conditions on the day of the accident, the
captain might have considered using runway 31L (which was more favorably oriented to the
wind) for his departure. However, when the captain overheard the response of JFK ground
control to another flight’s inquiry about runway 31L that it would remain closed for another
couple of hours, he determined that runway 31L was not a viable option for departure. Although
5 minutes before the accident ATC changed the departure runway to 31L for traffic following
flight 41, the Safety Board recognizes that the captain’s decision to use runway 4L was based on
the limited information available to him at the time. Further, air traffic controllers were not
required to offer flight 41 the option of switching to runway 31L, once the airplane was
established holding short at runway 4L. Based on the absence of definitive runway friction
measurements for runway 4L, reported winds of less than 15 knots (the maximum recommended
crosswind component for B-747 takeoffs on slippery runways), the flightcrew’s reports of
acceptable visibility down the runway, and the reported unavailability of the alternative runway
41
31L, the Safety Board concludes that the captain’s decision to attempt the takeoff on runway 4L
was appropriate.
2.2.2 The Attempted Takeoff and Loss of Control
Flight 41 attempted its takeoff under crosswind conditions with a runway
contaminated with packed snow and patchy ice. At the approximate time of the takeoff attempt,
there were crosswinds of 10-12 knots. Gusts of up to 22 knots were reported in the general area
near the time of the accident.
Asymmetric thrust (for example, inadequate thrust from the No. 1 engine) could
have resulted in the loss of directional control experienced by flight 41. In the absence of a
cross-check of other engine instruments, a malfunctioning EPR indicator could have led the
flightcrew to unknowingly set inadequate thrust for the No. 1 engine. However, given the flight
engineer’s recollections of evenly matched engine acceleration and consistent EPR and N1
indications from all four engines, and the absence from the CVR of flightcrew discussions of
abnormal throttle alignment, the Safety Board concludes that asymmetric thrust was not a factor
in the loss of directional control.
Having verified the realism of the Boeing engineering flight simulator in
reproducing the ground handling characteristics of the B-747 on slippery runways, the Safety
Board applied the findings of its August 8, 1996, flight simulation study to the circumstances and
events in this accident.
In all simulations in which the pilot did not use the nosewheel steering tiller for
directional control (including those conducted with icy runway conditions and winds gusting up
to 40 knots), the simulated airplane was controllable along the runway centerline. In contrast,
when pilots attempted to maintain the runway centerline using the tiller under slippery runway
conditions with a 12-knot crosswind, a slight overcontrol at the very beginning of the takeoff roll
repeatedly led to the loss of traction and steering capability from the nosewheel, followed by the
loss of directional control.
Given that it is very unlikely that the captain did not try to control the airplane’s
tendency to weathervane into the crosswind, and given the consistent controllability of the
airplane under accident conditions when the tiller was not used (during the simulation study), the
Safety Board concludes that the captain’s failure to correct the airplane’s deviation from the
centerline resulted from his overcontrolling the nosewheel steering through the tiller. This
conclusion is supported by the captain’s statement that he added increasing amounts of tiller
steering input during the loss of control sequence and departed the runway still holding full right
tiller.
The Safety Board was unable to determine with certainty the event that
precipitated the captain’s overcontrol with tiller inputs. Simulation study results suggest that the
B-747 has a tendency to react to crosswinds at very slow airspeeds with an initial, slight
downwind drift. It would have been natural for the captain to have reacted to this slight
42
deviation with a tiller input, because the deviation would have occurred at a slow airspeed as the
airplane was just beginning its takeoff roll.
However, there could have been a number of additional reasons for why the
captain applied steering inputs through the rudder or tiller at the start of the takeoff roll. These
include a line-up that was slightly off the runway centerline, a wind gust, or a slight thrust
imbalance from one or more engines as they accelerated to takeoff power. Still, regardless of the
reason for beginning the control inputs, the simulation study indicated that the runway deviation
was unlikely to have precipitated a loss of control without excessive steering inputs through the
tiller.
It is logical that overcontrol of the tiller on any aircraft would be more likely on a
slippery runway than a dry runway, because airplane heading is less responsive to tiller inputs in
slippery conditions. When a pilot makes a tiller input and does not obtain the expected reaction
from the airplane, it is possible that the pilot will, at least initially, provide additional input to
obtain the expected reaction. The lag in airplane response followed by additional control input
could result in overcontrol of the tiller to the extent that the nosewheel exceeds its critical angle
and loses traction.
The simulation study also demonstrated that at least enough rudder effectiveness
was obtained by 50-80 knots airspeed to shallow the simulator’s leftward veer before it departed
the runway. In most simulations, directional control could be regained by timely use of the
rudder. Given the effectiveness of rudder inputs in controlling heading deviations in the
simulation study, the Safety Board sought to understand why the captain of the accident airplane
was unable to recover directional control before the airplane departed the left side of the runway.
The Safety Board’s aircraft performance study of the tire marks on runway 4L from the accident
airplane (see section 1.18.7) indicated that it departed the left edge of the runway with a
shallowing leftward veer. This evidence implies that the captain was beginning to regain control
of the airplane when it left the runway. The simulation study results indicated that tiller inputs
alone would have been incapable of this recovery of control.
When interviewed after the accident, the captain recalled that he had applied
increasing amounts of right rudder as the airplane veered to the left. However, based on the
consistent effectiveness of rudder inputs in the simulation study and the tire mark evidence that
directional control was being regained at the runway’s edge, the Safety Board concludes that the
captain of flight 41 first relied on right tiller inputs as the airplane continued to veer left, then
applied insufficient or untimely right rudder inputs to effect a recovery.
2.2.3 Timeliness of the Rejected Takeoff
In his postaccident interview with the Safety Board, the captain stated that after
noting the airplane’s failure to respond to his initial input of right rudder, and before deciding to
reject the takeoff, he applied additional right rudder and tiller steering inputs. He then described
43
his attempts to reject the takeoff by retarding power to idle and applying maximum braking, right
rudder, and nosewheel steering input.
Thus, instead of rejecting the takeoff immediately after experiencing difficulty
obtaining directional control, the captain continued to attempt to regain directional control with
progressively greater rudder and nosewheel steering inputs. Because the FDR was not working,
the Safety Board did not have sufficient information to measure the delay between the first
indication of loss of control and the captain’s subsequent reduction of engine power. However,
some measure of the extent of the delay can be gained from the simulation and performance
studies. The simulation study showed that loss of directional control began at the relatively slow
airspeeds when the aerodynamic rudder had not yet become effective (less than 50 knots), while
the aircraft performance study showed that the accident airplane departed the left side of the
runway at a relatively high speed (approximately 97 knots).
The captain stated that he reduced power while the airplane was still on the
runway, and that he had no recollection of subsequently reapplying power. However, the Safety
Board’s CVR spectrum analysis clearly indicated that the thrust was partially reduced and then
reapplied in significant amounts as the airplane left the runway. Physical evidence from the
engines and flightcrew statements confirmed that the engine rpm increase recorded on the CVR
was not an engagement of reverse thrust.
Because the CVR ceased recording shortly after the reapplication of power to the
engines, the Safety Board was unable to determine the amount of time that the airplane traveled
off the runway under significant power. However, based on the spectrum analysis of engine
sounds on the CVR, the Safety Board determined that the captain abandoned his attempt to reject
the takeoff, at least temporarily, by restoring forward thrust. The Board’s aircraft performance
study indicated that as a result of the reapplication of thrust, the airplane continued to accelerate
as it approached the edge of the runway.
2.2.4 B-747 Slippery Runway Operating Procedures
Because the Safety Board recognized that on a slippery runway, directional
control of the B-747 could be lost rapidly by overcontrol of the tiller, it evaluated the existing
procedures established by Tower Air and Boeing for operating the B-747 on slippery runways.
As a result of the Tower Air procedure to guard the tiller during takeoff until 80 knots, the
captain was ready to use the tiller during the beginning of the takeoff roll.
Tower Air and Boeing procedures urge pilots to use the rudder and rudder pedal
steering during takeoff. However, B-747 procedural information produced by both the airline
and the manufacturer permit the tiller to be used at the beginning of the takeoff. In its 1994
Standards Memo, Tower Air stated, “Use of the tiller is not recommended unless rudder pedal
steering is not sufficient during the early takeoff roll.” Boeing stated in its Flight Crew Training
Manual for the B-747, “Do not use nosewheel tiller during takeoff roll unless required initially
due to crosswind.” The Safety Board is concerned that these procedures encourage use of the
44
tiller at the beginning of the takeoff roll, during which the Safety Board’s simulation study found
the B-747 to be most susceptible to loss of control on slippery runways.
The Safety Board concludes that current B-747 operating procedures provide
inadequate guidance to flightcrews regarding the potential for loss of directional control at low
speeds on slippery runways with the use of the tiller. The Safety Board believes that the FAA
should require modification of applicable operating procedures published by Boeing and air
carrier operators of the B-747 to further caution flightcrews against use of the tiller during
slippery runway operations, including low-speed operations (for airplanes equipped with rudder
pedal steering) and to provide appropriate limitations on tiller use during these operations (for
airplanes not equipped with rudder pedal steering).
The Safety Board was informed by Tower Air after the accident that it had
reevaluated and eliminated its standard procedure of guarding the tiller during the takeoff roll
through 80 knots. The Safety Board concludes that this procedural change by Tower Air will
make overcontrol of the tiller less likely for its own operations; however, other air carrier
operators of the B-747 may need to make similar changes to their procedures. Consequently, the
Safety Board believes that the FAA should issue a flight standards information bulletin (FSIB) to
POIs assigned to air carriers operating the B-747, informing them of the circumstances of this
accident and requesting a review and modification, as required, of each air carrier’s takeoff
procedure regarding pilot hand position with respect to the tiller.
The Safety Board recognizes that it may be a natural reaction for a pilot to
persevere in a takeoff attempt when faced with an apparently minor hesitation of an airplane to
respond to rudder input. However, the circumstances of this accident indicate that during takeoff
in a B-747 on a slippery runway, the pilot must abort at the very first indication of a directional
control loss.
The Boeing B-747 Operations Manual and Tower Air B-747 Flight Manual direct
pilots who are performing takeoffs on slippery runways to immediately reject the takeoff if
deviations from the runway centerline cannot be controlled. While this accident demonstrates
the soundness of this advice, the accident also indicates that the provisions in these manuals are
not adequately specific, particularly in their references to deviations that “cannot be controlled.”
Tower Air’s chief of flight standards suggested a criterion for rejecting takeoffs
under slippery runway/crosswind conditions that may be useful for pilot decisionmaking in the
future. He linked the takeoff rejection decision to the recommended procedure of limiting
rudder pedal steering input to one-half full travel to get optimal cornering friction. He indicated
it was clear that if a pilot could not control the airplane with one-half rudder pedal travel, the
takeoff should be rejected.
This advice may be operationally useful for all B-747 pilots, if it can be verified
by the FAA and aircraft manufacturer. The Safety Board concludes that current B-747 flight
manual guidance is inadequate about when a pilot should reject a takeoff following some
indication of a lack of directional control response. Consequently, the Safety Board believes that
45
the FAA should require Boeing to develop operationally useful criteria for making a rapid and
accurate decision to reject a takeoff under slippery runway conditions; then require that B-747
aircraft flight manuals, operating manuals, and training manuals be revised accordingly.
2.2.5 Training Simulators for B-747 Slippery Runway Operations
The air carrier and FAA pilots who participated in the August 8, 1996, simulation
study believed that the Boeing engineering simulator had more realistic ground handling
performance than the simulators Tower had provided for pilot training. The Board is concerned
that air carrier B-747 pilots currently are not able to obtain needed training on slippery runway
procedures, including proper tiller and rudder techniques, because training simulators have not
incorporated the latest ground handling model (such as that implemented on the Boeing
engineering simulator). Further, although existing flight test data on slippery runway handling
characteristics are limited, the increasing use of high capacity FDRs and quick access
maintenance recorders enables data on slippery runway handling to be obtained from actual line
flying experience. Many B-747-400 models are equipped with these recorders.
The Safety Board concludes that improvements in the slippery runway handling
fidelity of flight simulators used for B-747 pilot training are both needed and feasible.
Consequently, the Safety Board believes that the FAA should evaluate B-747 simulator ground
handling models and obtain additional ground handling data, as required, to ensure that B-747
flight simulators used for air carrier flightcrew training accurately simulate the slippery runway
handling characteristics of the airplane. The Safety Board also believes that after completing this
evaluation, the FAA should issue an FSIB urging POIs assigned to air carrier operators of the B747 to enhance simulator training for slippery runway operations, including limitations on tiller
use and instructions for rudder use during the takeoff roll.
2.2.6 Summary of Flightcrew Actions and Decisions
The captain’s use of the tiller control for nosewheel steering during the takeoff
roll, combined with his untimely or inadequate use of rudder inputs, allowed the loss of
directional control to develop. As this occurred, the airplane’s deviation from the centerline and
its unresponsiveness to steering inputs provided cues that, regardless of the adequacy of existing
procedures and training methods, should have prompted the captain to reject the takeoff more
quickly than he did. Therefore, the Safety Board concludes that the captain’s failure to reject the
takeoff in a timely manner was causal to the accident.
Still, better procedures for operating the B-747 under slippery runway conditions
and improved ground handling fidelity of the flight simulators used for B-747 pilot training could
have better prepared the captain for handling the situation that confronted the accident flight.
Therefore, the Safety Board concludes that the inadequate B-747 slippery runway operating
procedures developed by Tower and Boeing, and the inadequate fidelity of B-747 flight training
simulators for slippery runway operations, contributed to the cause of this accident.
46
Further, the Safety Board concludes that the captain abandoned his attempt to
reject the takeoff, at least temporarily, by restoring forward thrust before the airplane departed the
left side of the runway; this contributed to the severity of the runway excursion and damage to
the airplane.
2.3 Galley Security
Service carts, galley containers, drawers and other galley items were not contained
during the off-runway excursion. The most serious breach of galley security occurred in the aft
galley complex, between the R4 and L4 exits. The two carts that came loose injured the R4
flight attendant and blocked the R4 exit.
The Safety Board could not determine whether the primary latching mechanisms
were engaged on the carts that were released from the aft galley. However, the bending in the
secondary latches indicated that those latches were engaged, but were not adequate to secure the
carts. The Safety Board was unable to calculate the inertial loads imposed on N605FF during the
crash sequence because of the malfunctioning FDR. However, the condition of the seats and the
comments of the various occupants suggest that the airplane did not experience the loads
specified in 14 CFR 25.561(b). Because the crash forces were not severe enough that the latch
material should have failed, the Safety Board concludes that the material or installation of
secondary latches in the galleys of N605FF was inadequate. Consequently, the Safety Board
believes that the FAA should develop certification standards for the installation of secondary
galley latches; then use those standards to conduct an engineering review of secondary galley
latches on all transport-category aircraft. Further, the FAA should require changes to existing
installations as necessary to ensure that the strength of secondary latches and their installation are
sufficient to adequately restrain carts.
2.4 Flight Attendant Actions and Training
2.4.1 Flight Attendant Communication
Several flight attendants acknowledged seeing or hearing things not associated
with normal operations, such as crunching and tearing noises, engine separation, and significant
spillage of carry-on luggage, during the airplane’s off-runway excursion. However, only three of
the 12 flight attendants on board the accident airplane shouted commands to passengers to “Grab
Ankles! Stay Down!” during the impact sequence. Because these commands are important
instructions that can prevent or reduce passenger injuries, the Safety Board is concerned that nine
of the flight attendants did not shout any commands.
The Board recognizes that in the large cabin of the B-747, not all flight attendants
had access to the same information about the event; therefore, flight attendants might have
formed different opinions about the gravity of the situation. However, the Safety Board
concludes that during this accident sequence, despite some ambiguity about the situation, there
were ample indications in most parts of the passenger cabin to have caused a greater number of
flight attendants to shout brace commands before the airplane came to a stop. The Safety Board
47
believes that the FAA should issue an FSIB to POIs of 14 CFR Part 121 air carriers to ensure that
flight attendant training programs stress the importance of shouting the appropriate protective
instructions at the first indication of a potential accident, even when flight attendants are
uncertain of the precise nature of the situation.
Further, the inconsistent pattern of the flight attendants’ emergency commands
before the airplane came to a stop, the large cabin layout of the B-747, and the large size of its
cabin crew highlight the importance of communication among flight attendants. Communication
was an issue in the cabin crew’s actions immediately after the airplane came to a stop. While the
decision not to evacuate the airplane (made independently by the flight attendants and the
flightcrew) may have been appropriate, these decisions were made without adequate knowledge
of the postaccident condition of the airplane. Flight attendants had vital information that they did
not relay to the purser or the flightcrew. For example, flight attendants did not provide
information to the flightcrew about the separation of the No. 4 engine, the severe floor disruption
in the forward cabin, the smell of smoke and kerosene in the cabin, or the condition of the injured
flight attendant.
Normally, the PA and interphone systems provide effective means of
communications among flight attendants and between the cabin and flight deck. In this accident,
the purser was unaware that his PA announcements were only audible in the forward cabin, and
thus passengers and flight attendants in the rear of the airplane did not receive any information
about the decision not to evacuate. Further, the purser and three flight attendants attempted to
use the interphone system without success. Flight attendants did not use megaphones as an
alternative to these communications systems. The deadheading flight attendant went forward in
the cabin to find out what was planned, but he did not return to the aft cabin to share the
information with the other flight attendants.
The Safety Board’s review of Tower Air flight attendant procedures revealed that
no back-up procedures had been established for communicating or assessing conditions in the
postaccident contingency of inoperative or unpowered PA and interphone systems. However, the
likelihood of impact damage to PA and interphone equipment, as demonstrated in this accident,
indicates that such back-up procedures are essential.
The Safety Board recognizes that not all of the flight attendants involved in this
accident had adequate information to realize the need to establish communications throughout
the cabin. However, after an unusual occurrence such as a rejected takeoff (especially on a widebody airplane), positive communications are essential to coordinate the crew’s response, even if
the decision is not to evacuate.
The Safety Board concludes that the existing Tower Air flight attendant
procedures provided inadequate guidance to flight attendants on how to communicate to
coordinate their actions during and after the impact sequence. Further, because the Safety Board
is concerned that the flight attendant procedures of other air carriers may also be inadequate, the
Safety Board believes that the FAA should issue an FSIB requiring POIs of 14 CFR Part 121 air
carriers to ensure that their air carriers have adequate procedures for flight attendant
48
communications, including those for coordinating emergency commands to passengers,
transmitting information to flightcrews and other flight attendants, and handling postaccident
environments in which normal communications systems have been disrupted.
2.4.2 Flight Attendant CRM Training
The circumstances of this accident imply that flight attendants (particularly those
assigned to wide-body aircraft) would benefit from the opportunity to practice communications
procedures and coordination skills. CRM training can provide this opportunity.
While the FAA has issued guidance on this training, the Safety Board recognizes
that the new requirements for flightcrew and flight attendant CRM training do not specify the
specific form and content of this training. The communication and coordination issues raised by
this accident, both among flight attendants and between flight attendants and flightcrew would be
appropriately addressed in joint CRM training by providing experience and practice in a realistic,
line-oriented setting. Therefore, the Safety Board believes that the FAA should issue an FSIB
that encourages the use of this accident as a case study for CRM training.
2.4.3 Flight Attendant Galley Training
Although Tower Air operated B-747s with three different kinds of galleys and
service carts (with significant differences in the method used to secure each type of cart), new
flight attendants were only provided “hands on” training with a single empty cart. Further, their
classroom did not have a galley mock-up, and the actual airplane galleys used for “walkaround”
training usually were not equipped with carts when trainees were brought aboard. Therefore,
flight attendants did not actually operate carts in a galley setting until they began flying. The
Safety Board concludes that Tower Air flight attendant galley security training was inadequate
because flight attendants had not received “hands on” training with all the galley equipment that
they were required to operate. The Safety Board believes that Tower Air should revise its initial
flight attendant training program to include “hands-on” training for securing each type of galley
and cart included in its B-747 fleet.
2.4.4 Purser Training
The Safety Board is concerned that the flight attendant serving as the assistant
purser on the accident flight had not received the training appropriate to that position. While the
assignment of a purser and assistant purser was not required by regulation, and was not currently
practiced by many air carriers, formal designation of leadership roles in the cabin crew is very
beneficial, especially in wide-body aircraft. Although the lack of purser training was not causal
in this accident, such training could have resulted in better coordination/communication by the
cabin crew if there had been an evacuation.
49
2.5 Company Management
2.5.1 Maintenance
The Safety Board is concerned that Tower Air failed to recognize the results of the
annual check of the FDR system of N605FF in a timely manner. Based on the results of this
check, TWA notified Tower Air in a memorandum dated November 3, 1995, that the FDR
system had six suspect data parameters. It was more than 1 month later, on December 4, 1995,
when Tower Air responded to this notification by entering the discrepancy in the maintenance
log of N605FF.
Further, although the company recorded in its maintenance records that the
required FDR functional test had been performed on December 7, 1995, the Safety Board
concludes, based on the limited amount of time between the rental of the test equipment and the
movements of the airplane, that Tower Air did not perform the FDR functional test. If Tower Air
had performed this test, it would have identified the malfunctioning CEU and DAU #3 units (as
the Safety Board was able to do in its postaccident testing). Consequently, the Safety Board
concludes that Tower Air’s failure to conduct the FDR functional test resulted in the loss of FDR
data related to the accident flight that were of critical importance to the Safety Board’s
investigation.
On July 11, 1996, the Safety Board issued the following safety recommendations
to the Federal Aviation Administration:
Require that the operators of all airplanes equipped with a
Teledyne Controls Aeronautical Radio Incorporated 563 digital
flight data recorder system perform a self test of the central
electronics unit each flight day to ensure that the system is
operating properly. (Class II, Priority Action) (A-96-45)
Modify Master Minimum Equipment Lists to ensure that flight
with an inoperative flight data recorder is permitted only until the
airplane’s first arrival at a suitable repair facility, but not to exceed
3 days. (Class II, Priority Action) (A-96-46)
Increase oversight of flight data recorder system maintenance
practices by Tower Air to ensure that repairs are performed in
accordance with the maintenance manual. (Class II, Priority
Action) (A-96-47)
In a September 6, 1996, letter, the FAA responded to these recommendations. In
response to Safety Recommendation A-96-45, the FAA said that it would issue an FSIB to
require that a repetitive self-test inspection be performed by operators of the ARINC 563 system
at no more that 60 flight-hour intervals. While the recommendation calls for the test to be
performed daily, the Board acknowledges that the 60-hour interval will allow operators
50
flexibility in accomplishing this inspection. Therefore, pending the Safety Board’s review of the
FSIB, the Board classifies Safety Recommendation A-96-45 “Open—Acceptable Response.”
In response to Safety Recommendation A-96-46, the FAA said that it would
revise MMEL Policy Letter #29 as requested and anticipated that the revised letter would be
issued by November 1996. Pending the Safety Board’s review of the revised policy letter, the
Board classifies Safety Recommendation A-96-46 “Open—Acceptable Response.”
In response to Safety Recommendation A-96-47, the FAA said that it was
evaluating current oversight of FDR system maintenance practices by Tower Air to ensure that
repairs were being performed in accordance with the maintenance manual. Pending the Safety
Board’s review of the evaluation, which is expected to be completed by December 1996, the
Board classifies Safety Recommendation A-96-47 “Open—Acceptable Response.”
The Safety Board recognizes that on July 9, 1996, the FAA issued a notice of
proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that, if adopted, could affect the continued usage of the ARINC
563 system. The NPRM proposes to increase the number of mandatory parameters recorded by
airplane FDRs. For B-747s with the ARINC 563 system installed (such as N605FF), the airplane
would be required to record additional parameters, such as pitch, roll, and yaw control input
positions.
During the investigation, the Safety Board learned that the manufacturer of the
ARINC 563 system’s CEU and DAU components had stopped manufacturing these system
components. Additionally, the manufacturer no longer issues updates to the system software.
To comply with the proposed rulemaking, airplanes equipped with the ARINC
563 system would need installation of additional sensors and wiring. In addition, system
software would need to be upgraded to handle the additional parameters. Because the system is
no longer supported by the manufacturer, airlines would most likely replace the entire FDR
system, rather than attempt an in-house upgrade. This may result in the elimination of the
ARINC 563 system within the U.S. registry and render Safety Recommendations A-96-45
through -47 obsolete. However, because airlines may request and the FAA may grant waivers for
certain rules, the Safety Board cannot definitively determine whether the ARINC 563 system will
be eliminated. Therefore, the Safety Board urges the FAA to fulfill the Board’s objectives in
issuing these safety recommendations and ensure that existing ARINC 563 systems continue to
function adequately.
As shown by the maintenance history of the FDR that failed to function during the
accident sequence, as well as the findings of the FAA NASIP inspection, the installation of the
landing gear without assuring it was appropriate for this airplane, and the inadequately
documented “C” check, the Safety Board concludes that the Tower Air maintenance program
deviated in significant ways from the procedures established in the company’s GMM. Although
these deviations were not related to the cause of this accident, they are cause for concern.
51
The Safety Board is equally concerned that the Tower Air continuing
airworthiness surveillance and reliability programs, which are the carrier’s internal audit and
trend monitoring functions, failed to identify these deficiencies. The Safety Board concludes that
the continuing airworthiness surveillance and reliability programs in the maintenance department
of Tower Air were performing inadequately at the time of the accident. Consequently, the Safety
Board believes that the FAA should review the structure and performance of the continuing
airworthiness surveillance and reliability programs in the Tower Air maintenance department.
Also, the Safety Board believes that the FAA should reassess inspectors’ methods of evaluating
maintenance work, focusing on the possibility of false entries through selective detailed analysis
of records and unannounced work site inspections.
2.5.2 Operations
The November 1995 revisions to the reporting relationships among managers in
the Tower Air operations department were significant because they left the DO, who was
assigned the responsibility for the proper conduct of flight operations under the GOM, without
authority over the day-to-day operations of the airline, flightcrew training, or the activities of the
chief pilot and flightcrews. This organizational change was rejected by the POI when it was
finally submitted to him for approval following the accident, and the Safety Board concurs with
this rejection.
Not only does an airline need individual managers who have appropriate technical
qualifications, but the reporting relationships among managers must be such that the operational
functions of the airline report through the DO, who has the responsibility for regulatory and
procedural compliance in flight operations. Because Tower Air did not have this organizational
hierarchy, the Safety Board concludes that Tower Air was operating with an inadequate
management structure at the time of the accident. While the regulations contained in 14 CFR
Part 119 outline the required technical qualifications for certain operational management
positions at air carriers (including the DO), they do not specify the reporting relationships that
provide the DO with the necessary authority. Consequently, the Safety Board believes that the
FAA should revise 14 CFR Part 119 to specify that the chief pilot and all operational functions
under that position report through the DO.
The Safety Board is concerned that Tower Air failed to report significant
management personnel and organizational changes to the POI before their implementation, even
though this failure did not contribute to the accident. The carrier is responsible for maintaining
the accuracy of its GOM, which specifies the company’s operational management positions and
reporting relationships. Tower Air failed to issue a revised GOM for more than 2 months
following its implementation of changes in these areas. The fact that the FAA did not recognize
this significant change in the company for this length of time is also disturbing.
2.6 FAA Surveillance
52
The FAA POI and assistant POI assigned to Tower Air were also responsible for
overseeing the certificate of Atlas Air. At the time of the accident, both companies were fastgrowing B-747 operators engaged in worldwide flight operations.
The assistant POI acknowledged that neither he nor the POI had sufficient time to
conduct routine surveillance of Tower Air. The only en route inspections he performed were
those that were also required for a new captain’s certification during IOE. The POI conducted
one en route check from October 1, 1994, through December 31, 1995.
Because the POI and assistant POI were not able to perform routine surveillance
of Tower Air, this surveillance was dependent on the support of geographic inspectors from other
FAA offices. Although inspectors involved in geographic support probably would notify an air
carrier POI immediately if they detected a gross violation, these inspectors would not necessarily
recognize deviations from procedures specific to the airline. Further, they would be unable to
recognize trends in inspection findings. Therefore, the success of the FAA’s geographic
inspection program depends on the POI’s review and integration of the inspection results.
The POI assigned to Tower Air acknowledged that his primary source of feedback
from geographic surveillance was from reviews of the reports filed in the FAA PTRS data base,
which he attempted to review quarterly. However, he stated that he had been unable to review
these reports during the 6 months before the accident because of workload.
Further, the Safety Board is concerned that the POI and assistant POI were so
burdened with certification activities involving their two carriers that they were unfamiliar with
significant, inappropriate management changes occurring at Tower Air. Although these changes
were eventually recognized and rejected by the POI, he was unable to detect the change until the
formal notification was submitted for his signature.
Based on the POI’s dependence on geographic inspections for routine
surveillance, his inability to review the findings of these inspections in a timely manner, and his
inability to recognize and correct an inadequate operational management structure at Tower Air
in a timely manner, the Safety Board concludes that the POI and assistant POI assigned to Tower
Air were overburdened, and the FAA program for routine surveillance of the operational
functions of Tower Air was inadequate. Consequently, the Safety Board believes that the FAA
should immediately implement its plan to assign the Tower Air certificate to a POI and assistant
POI who do not have oversight responsibility for any other carriers. Further, based on the
circumstances of this accident and Tower Air’s recent accident history, the Safety Board believes
that the FAA should develop, by December 31, 1997, standards for enhanced surveillance of air
carriers based on rapid growth, change, complexity, and accident/incident history; then revise
national flight standards surveillance methods, work programs, staffing standards, and inspector
staffing to accomplish the enhanced surveillance that is identified by the new standards.
Although the Safety Board recognizes that the FAA needs to rely on locally based
inspector resources to accomplish surveillance in each geographic area, the Board has long been
concerned about the effectiveness of the FAA geographic inspection program. This program has
53
needed greater standardization of air carrier certifications across FAA regional boundaries, better
training for inspectors to make them more knowledgeable about both individual air carrier
procedures and industry-wide standards, adequate tools for geographic inspectors to
communicate their findings and concerns to POIs, and adequate tools for POIs to use in
identifying significant trends in the results of routine geographic surveillance.
The Safety Board examined the FAA geographic surveillance program during its
investigation of the February 16, 1995, accident at Kansas City International Airport involving an
attempted three-engine takeoff in a Douglas DC-8-63. As a result of this investigation, on
November 11, 1995, the Safety Board issued Safety Recommendation A-95-110, recommending
that the FAA review the effectiveness of the geographic unit oversight program, with particular
emphasis on the oversight of supplemental air carriers and their international operations, and the
improvement of overall communications between POIs and geographic inspectors.
In a February 12, 1996, response to Safety Recommendation A-95-110, the FAA
stated its plans to implement two improvements to the geographic surveillance program: an
Enhanced Certificate Management Plan that will position additional inspectors dedicated to
surveillance of a specific air carrier at outlying locations, and a Safety Performance Analysis
System that will provide POIs with improved capabilities for monitoring trends in negative
inspection findings. On July 5, 1996, citing the FAA’s failure to place special emphasis on
geographic surveillance of supplemental air carriers and their international operations, the Safety
Board classified Safety Recommendation A-95-110 “Closed—Unacceptable Action.”
However, immediately following the Safety Board’s July 1996 classification of
this safety recommendation, the FAA conducted a “90 Day Safety Review,”
27
which generated
several internal recommendations for improvements in air carrier surveillance systems, including
the geographic surveillance program. Although the Safety Board intends to further evaluate the
“90 Day Safety Review” report with respect to a number of specific safety issues, the Board is
encouraged by this internal review process. Pending final action by the FAA to implement its
internal recommendations to enhance the effectiveness of air carrier surveillance, Safety
Recommendation A-95-110 is classified “Open—Acceptable Response.”
2.7 Runway Contamination Evaluation
In this accident, the airport personnel completed a runway friction test of runway
4L at 0933 and obtained a reading that, by their own procedures, required a report to the control
tower. Although the airport personnel claimed that the report was made, there was no
documentation of a timely report in their records; the only such record was of a postaccident
entry in the operations office computer. The control tower was required by FAA Order 7110.65J
to advise pilots of runway friction readings when they were received from airport management,
but the control tower personnel claimed that they did not receive these reports. The Safety Board
27
Federal Aviation Administration. FAA 90 Day Safety Review. Washington, DC. September 16, 1996
(mimeo).
54
was unable to determine whether the runway friction measurement data were sent or received.
However, the Safety Board concludes that the failure of the PNY&NJ or FAA air traffic control
tower personnel to provide these data to the pilots of flight 41 did not contribute to this accident.
Although the guidance currently provided by the FAA on runway friction
measurement and reporting may be helpful to airport operators, it is incomplete because friction
coefficient measurements of various types are not correlated with braking performance of
different airplane types or configurations. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
Guidance Material Supplementary to Annex 14, Volume I, 6, includes a table of friction
coefficient measurements correlated with descriptive values, i.e., good, medium, poor. However,
this table is provided for informational use only, and it, too, does not establish clearly defined
parameters applicable to airplane types.
The Safety Board is concerned about the frequent occurrence of veeroffs,
overruns, and other related events by large airplanes when runways are contaminated with ice,
snow, and/or slush (including this accident). The continuing problem with safety during ground
operations is related to several problems. There is a clear need to measure the slipperiness of
runway and taxiway surfaces. However, those values must then be quantified into meaningful
information that pilots can use to evaluate the expected performance of their specific airplane.
This would require airport operators to maintain their equipment within specific tolerances, and it
would require the technicians operating the equipment to adhere to appropriate standards in using
the equipment. If the FAA had been responsive to the Safety Board’s 1982 safety
recommendations on this subject (see section 1.10.3), the industry might have already resolved
these problems.
The FAA has made considerable progress in providing and implementing
procedures for airport operators to perform friction measurements during periods of ice/snow and
slush contamination. However, such measurements are still not required, and there is no
standardization of the equipment currently being used. Further, there are no means to compare
measurement standards or translate the data into aircraft performance. A key issue is that no
significant progress has been made in correlating stopping distance data from airplane
manufacturers’ flight tests and calculations with the friction values obtained from measuring
devices. An outcome of these correlations could be the establishment of objective standards for
air carrier operations on slippery runways, perhaps extending to the establishment of appropriate
minimum runway friction levels for operational use.
The Safety Board concludes that the circumstances of this accident indicate that
the issue of correlating airplane stopping performance with runway friction measurements should
be revisited by the Government and the air transportation industry. Consequently, the Safety
Board believes that the FAA should require the appropriate Aviation Rulemaking and Advisory
Committee to establish runway friction measurements that are operationally meaningful to pilots
and air carriers for their slippery runway operations (including a table correlating friction values
measured by various types of industry equipment), and minimum coefficient of friction levels for
specific airplane types below which airplane operations will be suspended.
55
3. CONCLUSIONS
3.1 Findings
1. The flightcrew was properly certificated and qualified in accordance with
applicable regulations and company requirements.
2. The air traffic control personnel involved with the flight were all properly
certificated and qualified.
3. The airplane was properly certificated, equipped, and maintained (with the
exception of the flight data recorder system) in accordance with approved regulations. The
weight and balance were within allowable limits.
4. The captain’s decision to attempt the takeoff on runway 4L was appropriate.
5. Asymmetric thrust was not a factor in the loss of directional control.
6. The captain’s failure to correct the airplane’s deviation from the centerline
resulted from his overcontrolling the nosewheel steering through the tiller.
7. The captain of flight 41 first relied on right tiller inputs as the airplane
continued to veer left, then applied insufficient or untimely right rudder inputs to effect a
recovery.
8. Current Boeing 747 operating procedures provide inadequate guidance to
flightcrews regarding the potential for loss of directional control at low speeds on slippery
runways with the use of the tiller.
9. The procedural change by Tower Air to reevaluate and eliminate its standard
procedure of guarding the tiller during the takeoff roll through 80 knots will make overcontrol of
the tiller less likely for its own operations; however, other air carrier operators of the Boeing 747
may need to make similar changes to their procedures.
10. Current Boeing 747 flight manual guidance is inadequate about when a pilot
should reject a takeoff following some indication of a lack of directional control response.
11. Improvements in the slippery runway handling fidelity of flight simulators
used for Boeing 747 pilot training are both needed and feasible.
12. The captain’s failure to reject the takeoff in a timely manner was causal to the
accident.
13. The inadequate Boeing 747 slippery runway operating procedures developed
by Tower Air and the Boeing Commercial Airplane Group, and the inadequate fidelity of B-747
56
flight training simulators for slippery runway operations, contributed to the cause of this
accident.
14. The captain abandoned his attempt to reject the takeoff, at least temporarily,
by restoring forward thrust before the airplane departed the left side of the runway; this
contributed to the severity of the runway excursion and damage to the airplane.
15. The material or installation of secondary latches in the galleys of N605FF was
inadequate.
16. Despite some ambiguity about the situation, there were ample indications in
most parts of the passenger cabin to have caused a greater number of flight attendants to shout
brace commands before the airplane came to a stop.
17. The existing Tower Air flight attendant procedures provided inadequate
guidance to flight attendants on how to communicate to coordinate their actions during and after
the impact sequence.
18. Tower Air flight attendant galley security training was inadequate because
flight attendants had not received “hands on” training with all the galley equipment that they
were required to operate.
19. Based on the limited amount of time between the rental of the test equipment
and the movements of the airplane, Tower Air did not perform the flight data recorder (FDR)
functional test; this resulted in the loss of FDR data related to the accident flight that were of
critical importance to the Safety Board’s investigation.
20. The Tower Air maintenance program deviated in significant ways from the
procedures established in the company’s general maintenance manual.
21. The continuing airworthiness surveillance and reliability programs in the
maintenance department of Tower Air were performing inadequately at the time of the accident.
22. Tower Air was operating with an inadequate management structure at the time
of the accident.
23. The principal operations inspector (POI) and assistant POI assigned to Tower
Air were overburdened, and the Federal Aviation Administration program for routine
surveillance of the operational functions of Tower Air was inadequate.
24. The failure of the Port Authority of NY & NJ or Federal Aviation
Administration air traffic control tower personnel to provide friction measurement data to the
pilots of flight 41 did not contribute to this accident.
57
25. The circumstances of this accident indicate that the issue of correlating
airplane stopping performance with runway friction measurements should be revisited by the
Government and the air transportation industry.
3.2 Probable Cause
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of
this accident was the captain’s failure to reject the takeoff in a timely manner when excessive
nosewheel steering tiller inputs resulted in a loss of directional control on a slippery runway.
Inadequate Boeing 747 slippery runway operating procedures developed by Tower
Air, Inc., and the Boeing Commercial Airplane Group and the inadequate fidelity of B-747 flight
training simulators for slippery runway operations contributed to the cause of this accident.
The captain’s reapplication of forward thrust before the airplane departed the left
side of the runway contributed to the severity of the runway excursion and damage to the
airplane.
58
4. RECOMMENDATIONS
As a result of the investigation of this accident, the National Transportation Safety
Board makes the following recommendations:
--to the Federal Aviation Administration:
Require modification of applicable operating procedures published
by the Boeing Commercial Airplane Group and air carrier
operators of the B-747 to further caution flightcrews against use of
the tiller during slippery runway operations, including low-speed
operations (for airplanes equipped with rudder pedal steering) and
to provide appropriate limitations on tiller use during these
operations (for airplanes not equipped with rudder pedal steering).
(A-96-150)
Issue a flight standards information bulletin to principal operations
inspectors assigned to air carriers operating the B-747, informing
them of the circumstances of this accident and requesting a review
and modification, as required, of each air carrier’s takeoff
procedure regarding pilot hand position with respect to the tiller.
(A-96-151)
Require the Boeing Commercial Airplane Group to develop
operationally useful criteria for making a rapid and accurate
decision to reject a takeoff under slippery runway conditions; then
require that B-747 aircraft flight manuals, operating manuals, and
training manuals be revised accordingly. (A-96-152)
Evaluate Boeing 747 simulator ground handling models and obtain
additional ground handling data, as required, to ensure that B-747
flight simulators used for air carrier flightcrew training accurately
simulate the slippery runway handling characteristics of the
airplane. (A-96-153)
After completing this evaluation, issue a flight standards
information bulletin urging principal operations inspectors
assigned to air carrier operators of the Boeing 747 to enhance
simulator training for slippery runway operations, including
limitations on tiller use and instructions for rudder use during the
takeoff roll. (A-96-154)
Develop certification standards for the installation of secondary
galley latches; then use those standards to conduct an engineering
review of secondary galley latches on all transport-category
59
aircraft. Require changes to existing installations as necessary to
ensure that the strength of secondary latches and their installation
are sufficient to adequately restrain carts. (A-96-155)
Issue a flight standards information bulletin to principal operations
inspectors of 14 CFR Part 121 air carriers to ensure that flight
attendant training programs stress the importance of shouting the
appropriate protective instructions at the first indication of a
potential accident, even when flight attendants are uncertain of the
precise nature of the situation. (A-96-156)
Issue a flight standards information bulletin requiring principal
operations inspectors of 14 CFR Part 121 air carriers to ensure that
their air carriers have adequate procedures for flight attendant
communications, including those for coordinating emergency
commands to passengers, transmitting information to flightcrews
and other flight attendants, and handling postaccident
environments in which normal communications systems have been
disrupted. (A-96-157)
Issue a flight standards information bulletin that encourages the use
of this accident as a case study for crew resource management
training. (A-96-158)
Review the structure and performance of the continuing
airworthiness surveillance and reliability programs in the Tower
Air maintenance department. (A-96-159)
Reassess inspectors’ methods of evaluating maintenance work,
focusing on the possibility of false entries through selective
detailed analysis of records and unannounced work site
inspections. (A-96-160)
Revise 14 CFR Part 119 to specify that the chief pilot and all
operational functions under that position report through the
director of operations.(A-96-161)
Immediately implement the plan to assign the Tower Air certificate
to a principal operations inspector (POI) and assistant POI who do
not have oversight responsibility for any other carriers. (A-96-162)
Develop, by December 31, 1997, standards for enhanced
surveillance of air carriers based on rapid growth, change,
complexity, and accident/incident history; then revise national
flight standards surveillance methods, work programs, staffing
60
standards, and inspector staffing to accomplish the enhanced
surveillance that is identified by the new standards. (A-96-163)
Require the appropriate Aviation Rulemaking and Advisory
Committee to establish runway friction measurements that are
operationally meaningful to pilots and air carriers for their slippery
runway operations (including a table correlating friction values
measured by various types of industry equipment), and minimum
coefficient of friction levels for specific airplane types below
which airplane operations will be suspended. (A-96-164)
--to Tower Air, Inc.:
Revise Tower Air’s initial flight attendant training program to
include “hands-on” training for securing each type of galley and
cart included in its Boeing 747 fleet. (A-96-165)
BY THE NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD
JAMES E. HALL
Chairman
ROBERT T. FRANCIS II
Vice Chairman
JOHN A. HAMMERSCHMIDT
Member
JOHN J. GOGLIA
Member
GEORGE W. BLACK
Member
December 2, 1996
61
5. APPENDIXES
APPENDIX A - INVESTIGATION AND HEARING
1. Investigation
The National Transportation Safety Board was notified of the accident at 1150 on
December 20, 1995. A partial go-team was dispatched to the scene. The following investigative
groups were formed: Operations, Air Traffic Control, Airports, Weather, Survival Factors,
Maintenance Records, Structures/Powerplants, Systems, Flight Data Recorder, and Cockpit
Voice Recorder (CVR). Subsequently a Metallurgical Group was formed and a Sound Spectrum
Study of the engine sounds on the CVR was completed.
Parties to the investigation included the Federal Aviation Administration, Tower
Air, Inc., the Tower Air Cockpit Crew Association, the Association of Flight Attendants, the
Boeing Commercial Airplane Group, and Pratt & Whitney.
2. Public Hearing
A public hearing was not held in connection with this investigation.
62
APPENDIX B- COCKPIT VOICE RECORDER TRANSCRIPT
63
Transcript of a Fairchild A-100 cockpit voice recorder (CVR), s/n 2059, installed on
an Tower Air B-747-136, N605FF, which was involved in runway excursion during takeoff
from the John F. Kennedy International Airport, Jamaica, New York, on Dec. 20, 1995.
LEGEND
RDO Radio transmission from accident aircraft.
CAM Cockpit area microphone voice or sound source.
INT Transmissions over aircraft interphone system.
GND Radio transmission from JFK control ground control.
ATLD Radio transmission from Atlanta departure control.
A9140 Radio transmission from American flight # 9140.
D9901 Radio transmission from Delta flight # 9901.
SB117 Radio transmission from British Airways flight # 117.
KW134 Radio transmission from Carnival flight # 134.
GMTC Radio transmission from ground maintenance vehicle.
UNK Radio transmission received from unidentified aircraft.
PA Transmission made over aircraft public address system.
-B Sounds heard through both pilot’s hot microphone systems.
-1 Voice identified as Pilot-in-Command (PIC)
-2 Voice identified as Co-Pilot.
-3 Voice identified as Flight Engineer.
-4 Voice identified as 1st ground crewman.
-5 Voice identified as 2nd ground crewman.
-6 Voice identified as jump seat rider.
-? Voice unidentified
* Unintelligible word
@ Non pertinent word
# Expletive
% Break in continuity
Note: Times are expressed in eastern standard time (EST).
INTRA-COCKPIT COMMUNICATION AIR-GROUND COMMUNICATION
TIME & TIME &
SOURCE CONTENT SOURCE CONTENT
64
START of RECORDING
START of TRANSCRIPT
1106:40
CAM-? wind shifted a little bit. it's three thirty at thirteen instead of
three fifty.
1107:07
GND Blue Ridge two thirty five, check information Kilo you'll
continue by the inner and Kilo-Alpha to cross three one
left.
1107:18
A9140 American ninety one forty is clear going to Tango.
1107:20
GND American ninety one forty Kennedy roger use caution uh,
braking action reported nil on that turn, make the right on
the outer.
1108:09
INT-4 OK, cockpit?
1108:11
INT-1 go ahead.
1108:12
INT-4 OK, everything is done, and uh, you're cleared to start.
1108:16
INT-1 OK uh, the de-ice coordinators name please?
1108:21
INT-4 yes, hold on a second.
INTRA-COCKPIT COMMUNICATION AIR-GROUND COMMUNICATION
TIME & TIME &
SOURCE CONTENT SOURCE CONTENT
65
1108:34
INT-4 Graciano, Graciano. with a G.
1108:40
INT-1 OK and the type of uh, fluid used? was it a fifty fifty mixture
type one?
1108:47
INT-4 uh fifty five ...
1108:57
INT-5 yes on the uh, type one it's fifty five forty five.
1109:00
INT-1 OK and type two is uh, one hundred zero?
1109:03
INT-5 absolutely.
1109:04
INT-1 OK thanks uh, here comes number four engine and uh, will you
call the N ones for me on each engine please?
1109:12
INT-5 absolutely.
1109:13
INT-1 thank you.
1109:14
CAM-3 EPR's set. ******.
1109:21
INT-1 here comes number four.
1109:22
INT-4 OK.
INTRA-COCKPIT COMMUNICATION AIR-GROUND COMMUNICATION
TIME & TIME &
SOURCE CONTENT SOURCE CONTENT
66
1109:27
CAM [miscellaneous unintelligible background conversation]
1109:29
CAM-1 uh, he's just gotta check.
1109:30
CAM-3 the pre-takeoff ice check ***.
1109:36
CAM-1 OK, go ahead and check that * put it in.
1109:39
CAM-3 first of all, standby. let's get some bleed air back ** guys.
1109:43
CAM-2 uuh.
1109:46
CAM [several unintelligible comments]
1109:47
CAM-1 let's do a uh, let's do a before start check list.
1109:53
CAM-3 ** pressurizing.
1109:55
CAM-2 OK uh, we'll go uh, INS?
1109:57
CAM-1 three in nav.
1109:58
CAM-2 beacon?
1109:59
CAM-1 on.
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67
1110:00
CAM-2 doors?
1110:00
CAM-3 checked lights out.
1110:01
CAM-2 brake pressure?
1110:02
CAM-3 pump on and checked.
1110:04
CAM-2 fuel boost pumps?
1110:05
CAM-3 on.
1110:06
CAM-2 gear down lock pins?
1110:07
CAM-3 removed.
1110:09
CAM-2 OK, number one air pump?
1110:10
CAM-3 auto.
1110:12
CAM-2 cabin report?
1110:12
CAM-1 verified.
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68
1110:14
INT-1 OK, here comes number four.
1110:15
INT-4 OK guys.
1110:17
CAM-? start pressure's a little low but I don't ....
1110:18
CAM-3 yeah, it's indicating about twenty seven **.
1110:20
CAM-? alright.
1110:22
CAM-3 turn number four.
1110:29
INT-4 N one.
1110:38
CAM-3 max motoring.
1110:44
CAM-1 light off.
1110:46
CAM-? well you know **...
1110:48
CAM [sound similar to momentary power interruption]
1110:54
CAM-3 I'm going to get the warning CB off?
1110:56
CAM-1 OK.
INTRA-COCKPIT COMMUNICATION AIR-GROUND COMMUNICATION
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69
1110:57
CAM-3 OK.
1111:05
CAM-3 OK, I'll reach up and cross check. *** I've got forty psi duct
pressure **** bleed valves engine, bleed air valves open.
1111:13
CAM-1 OK, call the N one for me again. we're going to motor this
thing a bit.
1111:17
INT-4 OK captain. uh, the packs are off?
1111:19
INT-1 yeah they are.
1111:20
INT-4 OK.
1111:22
CAM-3 OK, turn number four.
1111:24
INT-1 here comes four.
1111:25
INT-4 OK, captain.
1111:26
INT-1 you guys having fun yet?
1111:28
INT-4 lots of fun, I love it. ha ha.
1111:32
INT-4 N one.
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70
1111:34
INT-1 [sound similar to two microphone clicks]
1111:40
CAM-3 EGT below a hundred. max motoring.
1111:45
CAM-? *** area.
1111:47
CAM [several unintelligible comments]
1111:51
CAM-3 twenty five.
1111:54
CAM-3 thirty.
1111:58
CAM-3 thirty five.
1112:04
CAM-3 forty.
1112:07
CAM-3 forty five.
1112:08
CAM-3 starter cutout.
1112:09
INT-1 here comes three.
1112:11
INT-4 *.
INTRA-COCKPIT COMMUNICATION AIR-GROUND COMMUNICATION
TIME & TIME &
SOURCE CONTENT SOURCE CONTENT
71
1112:14
CAM-3 do you want me to transfer number four electrics?
1112:17
CAM [sound similar to electrical power transfer]
1112:18
CAM-2 anti-ice OK?
1112:19
CAM-1 please.
1112:20
CAM-3 OK start number three.
1112:22
CAM-1 ***.
1112:31
INT-4 rotation.
1112:33
CAM [sound similar to two microphone clicks]
1112:38
CAM-3 max motoring.
1112:45
CAM-1 light-off.
1112:48
CAM-3 twenty five.
1112:52
CAM-3 thirty.
1112:56
CAM-3 thirty five.
INTRA-COCKPIT COMMUNICATION AIR-GROUND COMMUNICATION
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72
1113:00
CAM-3 forty.
1113:04
CAM-3 forty five starter cutout.
1113:06
INT-1 here comes two.
1113:07
INT-4 *.
1113:09
CAM-3 turn number two.
1113:13
CAM-1 I'm not using rich by the way seems to be ***.
1113:17
INT-4 *.
1113:25
CAM-3 max motoring.
1113:33
CAM-1 light up
1113:35
CAM-3 twenty five.
1113:40
CAM-3 thirty.
1113:46
CAM-3 thirty five.
INTRA-COCKPIT COMMUNICATION AIR-GROUND COMMUNICATION
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73
1113:50
CAM-3 forty.
1113:54
CAM [sound of click]
1113:55
CAM-4 forty five starter cutout.
1113:56
INT-1 here comes one.
1113:57
INT-4 *.
1113:58
CAM-3 turnin' one.
1114:05
INT-4 *.
1114:07
INT-1 [sound similar to two microphone clicks]
1114:14
CAM-3 max motoring.
1114:22
CAM-1 light up.
1114:24
CAM-3 twenty five.
1114:28
CAM-3 thirty.
1114:32
CAM-3 thirty five.
INTRA-COCKPIT COMMUNICATION AIR-GROUND COMMUNICATION
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74
1114:37
CAM-3 forty.
1114:40
CAM [sound of two clicks]
1114:40
CAM-3 forty five starter cutout.
1114:41
CAM-1 flaps ten.
1114:43
CAM [sound of numerous clicks]
1114:51
INT-4 cockpit.
1114:54
INT-1 OK you're cleared to disconnect. show the pin on the left side
and uh, we're going to do a control check right here if you want
to watch it and we'll be out of here. thanks a lot for your help
and we'll see you tonight.
1115:03
INT-4 OK captain. give me your last name please sir. they need it
for de-icing.
1115:06
INT-1 yeah Law, L A W, Lima Alpha Whiskey.
1115:10
INT-4 thank you sir.
1115:11
CAM-3 ship's power.
INTRA-COCKPIT COMMUNICATION AIR-GROUND COMMUNICATION
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75
1115:13
CAM-1 after start checklist.
1115:14
CAM-2 electrical power?
1115:15
CAM-3 set.
1115:16
CAM-2 APU bleed?
1115:18
CAM-3 closed.
1115:18
INT-4 OK you can do your uh, flight control check, while I'm standing
by.
1115:22
INT-1 OK.
1115:24
CAM-1 go ahead.
1115:25
CAM-2 hydraulics?
1115:25
CAM-3 auto, normal, quantity checked.
1115:28
CAM-2 nose steer pin?
1115:30
CAM-1 ah well we have that. let me do a control check here Ralph.
INTRA-COCKPIT COMMUNICATION AIR-GROUND COMMUNICATION
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76
1115:32
CAM-3 OK.
1115:33
CAM-3 two up on the left, one down on the right. neutral. two up on
the right, one down on the left. neutral. two down, two neutral,
two up, two neutral.
1115:45
INT-1 OK, the control check is complete. show the pin on the left
side. thanks a lot.
1115:49
INT-4 have a nice day.
1115:55
CAM-2 how about flaps?
1116:06
CAM-1 after start check. where are we here?
1116:08
CAM-2 uh, we're down to nose steering uh, area clearance.
1116:12
CAM-1 nose steering checked, area clearance, clear on the left.
1116:15
CAM-2 clear right.
1116:18
RDO-2 Tower Air four one coming out of uh, Golf Quebec.
1116:21
GND Tower forty one, taxi via Quebec. hold short of November. Expect runway four left for departure.
INTRA-COCKPIT COMMUNICATION AIR-GROUND COMMUNICATION
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77
1116:27
CAM-1 ask him how long if's any delays.
1116:29
RDO-2 thank you, we'll hold short uh, four left. do you know if
there are any delays at this time?
1116:31
GND at this time, no delays.
1116:32
RDO-2 thanks.
1116:35
CAM-2 leave the flaps still down **?
1116:37
CAM-? *.
1117:03
CAM-1 started to taxi at sixteen.
1117:05
CAM-3 OK.
1117:14
CAM-? ouch.
1117:52
CAM-2 expect four left Ralph.
1117:54
CAM-3 OK. and uh, we checked that already *.
1118:03
CAM-2 that's less than **.
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78
1118:04
CAM-3 yeah, that's true.
1118:22
CAM [sound of yawn]
1118:31
CAM-2 the flakes are getting bigger. does that mean it's going to stop
soon, or does that mean it's going to accumulate more snow?
1118:46
CAM-1 you ready on the rudders Ralph?
1118:47
CAM-3 yes I am.
1118:49
CAM-3 two left... two neutral... two right... two neutral. two up on the
left, one down on the right. neutral... two up on the right one
down on the left... neutral... two down... two neutral... two up...
two neutral.
1119:12
CAM-1 taxi check.
1119:13
CAM-3 taxi check list. nacelle anti-ice?
1119:15
CAM-2 on.
1119:17
CAM-3 flight ‘n nav instruments?
1119:20
CAM-2 uh, set, and cross check uh, how do you want your flight director?
INTRA-COCKPIT COMMUNICATION AIR-GROUND COMMUNICATION
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79
1119:24
CAM-? *.
1119:26
CAM-3 altitude selector?
1119:27
CAM-2 five thousand feet armed.
1119:29
CAM-3 flaps ten?
1119:30
CAM-2 ten indicate uuuh, at least ten. and flaps ** green light.
1119:38
CAM-3 eight green. controls?
1119:40
CAM-2 checked.
1119:42
CAM-3 stab and trim, five point three units?
1119:45
CAM-2 five point three. OK. set one two three checked.
1119:54
CAM-3 takeoff data V speeds, one three four, one four zero, one five
zero. and three rating one point four three.
1120:04
CAM-1 checked set.
1120:05
CAM-2 checked set.
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80
1120:06
CAM-3 annunciator lights? checked.
1120:15
CAM-3 taxi checklist complete.
1120:27
GND Tower forty one heavy, pick up information Kilo.
1120:31
RDO-2 uh, Kilo I believe we have that. stand by one.
1120:42
RDO-2 forty one has Kilo, thank you.
1120:45
GND roger.
1122:10
GND Tower forty one continue on the inner. at Mike join the
outer. cross three one left at Kilo.
1122:19
CAM-2 OK by the inner and uh, Mike outer and uh, Kilo Alpha, cross
three one left uh, Tower Air.
1122:29
CAM-1 going to four left, Mike.
1122:30
CAM-? yeah.
1122:37
CAM-1 inner outer at Mike. cross at Kilo four left.
1122:38
CAM-2 Kilo Alpha.
INTRA-COCKPIT COMMUNICATION AIR-GROUND COMMUNICATION
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81
1122:43
CAM-2 no, let me recheck. I think it was Kilo.
1122:46
CAM-1 that's alright.
1122:47
CAM-2 OK.
1122:56
CAM-1 I'm gonna uh, stop and run these engines right here.
1123:00
CAM-2 OK.
1123:09
CAM-1 Mike, keep your eye outside. if we start to move let me know.
1123:13
CAM-2 ** tell ground what we're doing?
1123:14
CAM-1 naw.
1123:16
CAM [sound similar to increase in engine RPM]
1123:20
CAM-2 feels like we're moving.
1123:21
CAM [sound of click]
1123:23
CAM [sound similar to decrease in engine RPM]
1123:25
CAM-6 it started to move.
INTRA-COCKPIT COMMUNICATION AIR-GROUND COMMUNICATION
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82
1123:26
CAM-? yep.
1123:27
CAM-6 slippery out there.
1123:33
D991 and ground, Delta nine (niner) one.
1123:35
CAM-1 it's an ice rink here.
1123:37
GND Delta ninety nine zero one, ground.
1123:40
D991 yes sir, any word on uh, thirty one?
1123:44
GND no, it's still closed.
1123:46
D991 the estimate uh, is what now?
1124:06
GND I don't know when it's gonna open. probably be a couple
of hours. may want to call the Port Authority.
1124:11
DL9901 OK, earlier they had an eleven o'clock. that's why we
were checking.
1124:16
GND alright.
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83
1124:24
GND Tower forty one heavy, you can stay on the inner. cross
three one left at Kilo.
1124:29
RDO-2 inner to three one left at Kilo, thank you, Tower forty one.
1125:45
CAM-1 boy they got some sick # at America West with their pay
sheets, don't they?
1125:49
CAM-2 I tell you I ***.
1125:52
CAM-6 shades of Braniff.
1125:53
CAM [sound of laughter]
1125:55
CAM [sound similar to electric seat motion]
1125:58
CAM-? ***.
1126:05
GND Tower forty one heavy, cross runway three one left. on
the other side monitor nineteen one, good day.
1126:10
RDO-2 Tower forty one, we'll monitor on the other side. thanks.
1128:50
CAM-? ***.
1129:04
CAM-2 *** body gear steering.
INTRA-COCKPIT COMMUNICATION AIR-GROUND COMMUNICATION
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84
1129:35
CAM-? * right.
1129:49
CAM-1 get around the corner here, Ralph take a little walk and check
the wings for me will you.
1129:53
CAM-3 sure.
1130:06
CAM [sound of clicks similar to crew harness release]
1130:42
CAM-1 OK?
1130:42
CAM-3 OK.
1130:46
CAM [sliding sound similar to seat adjustment]
1130:55
CAM [sound of clicks similar to cockpit door operating]
1131:46
SB117 uh, Speed Bird uh, one one seven, just for your information, we'll be leaving our flaps down ***.
1131:52
TWR uh Roger, I can't see you from up here anyway. you uh,
it'll be full flaps down?
1131:53
SB117 uh, yes.
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85
1131:59
CAM [sound similar to cockpit door operating]
1132:01
CAM-3 it's very clean out there.
1132:03
CAM-1 OK.
1132:03
CAM-3 **.
1132:07
TWR Tower forty one heavy, four left, taxi into position and
hold. traffic down field right to left.
1132:11
CAM-1 right.
1132:13
RDO-2 position and hold ni.. four left, Tower Air forty one heavy.
1132:15
CAM-1 position and hold, before takeoff check list.
1132:16
CAM-3 before takeoff check list.
1132:17
TWR DHL seven, wind three two zero at one one. frequency
change approved.
1132:23
CAM-3 flight attendants please be seated for takeoff. thank you.
1132:35
CAM-3 takeoff announcement is complete.
INTRA-COCKPIT COMMUNICATION AIR-GROUND COMMUNICATION
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SOURCE CONTENT SOURCE CONTENT
86
1132:47
CAM-3 air condition packs off.
1132:52
CAM [sound of three clicks]
1132:53
CAM-3 ignition, flight start.
1132:54
CAM-3 transponder and radar?
1132:56
CAM-2 on and on.
1132:58
CAM-3 and stand by for body gear steering.
1133:40
TWR TWA one eighty six, cleared to land. wind three three
zero at one two.
1134:00
GMTC tower car nine nine.
1134:01
TWR nine nine, Kennedy.
1134:02
GMTC OK uh, all clear of runway three one left. the runway will
be (ops) at this time, full length, and uh safety check and
brake check.
1134:10
TWR nine nine, roger.
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87
1134:14
KW134 and tower, Carnival one thirty four with you on the ILS
four right.
1134:18
TWR Carnival one thirty four, Kennedy tower runway four right,
braking action reported fair to good towards the middle of
the runway and poor at the turn off. wind three three zero
at one two, number two.
1134:26
CAM-2 I don't guess you'll be able to get much of a run up.
1134:29
CAM-1 no. just do the best we can. if it starts to move, we're going to
take it.
1134:34
CAM-? OK.
1134:35
CAM [sound similar to crew seat operation]
1135:09
CAM-2 I see an airplane looks like it's clear down the end.
1135:12
CAM-? hold on.
1135:18
CAM-3 body gear steer?
1135:22
CAM [sound of click]
1135:22
CAM-3 disarmed, before takeoff check list complete.
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88
1135:25
CAM-? OK.
1135:26
RDO-2 Tower Air four one is in position four left.
1135:29
TWR yes sir, just continue holding.
1135:34
CAM-1 try a run up here and see what happens.
1135:39
CAM [sound similar to increase in engine RPM]
1135:47
CAM-1 start your clock **.
1135:49
CAM-? **.
1135:52
CAM-3 it's about forty five right there.
1136:02
CAM-2 it’s about fifteen.
1136:04
CAM [sound of click and sound similar to decrease in engine RPM]
1136:15
CAM-1 pretty good uh, cross wind from the *.
1136:25
TWR Tower forty one heavy, wind three three zero at one one,
runway four left, RVR's one thousand eight hundred,
cleared for takeoff.
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89
1136:31
RDO-2 cleared for takeoff four left, Tower Air forty one.
1136:34
CAM-1 check list is complete?
1136:35
CAM-3 yes. check list is complete.
1136:39
CAM [sound of click similar to parking brake release]
1136:40
CAM [sound similar to increase in engine RPM]
1136:44
CAM-3 power's stable.
1136:48
CAM [sound similar to crew seat operation]
1137:00
CAM [low frequency sound similar to further increase in engine
RPM]
1137:04
CAM-1 set time, takeoff thrust.
1137:05
CAM-3 set the takeoff thrust.
1137:10
CAM-? watch it.
1137:10
CAM-? watch it.
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90
1137:11
CAM [sound of click]
1137:11
CAM [low frequency sound similar to engine noise can no longer be
heard]
1137:12
CAM-3 OK, losing it.
1137:12
CAM-2 going to the left.
1137:13
CAM-? going to the left.
1137:13
CAM-3 to the right.
1137:14
CAM-3 you're going off.
1137:15
CAM-? going off.
1137:16
CAM-1 aw #.
1137:17
CAM-1 easy guys.
1137:18
CAM-1 OK.
1137:19
CAM [first sound of impact]
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91
1137:20
CAM-? pull up. pull up.
1137:21
CAM [second sound of impact]
1137:21
END of RECORDING
END of TRANSCRIPT

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