Monday, July 09, 2007

FAA History Lesson -- July 9

From the FAA Historical Chronology, 1926-1996...

”Jul 9, 1982: A Pan American 727 crashed shortly after takeoff from New Orleans International Airport, killing all 145 aboard and 8 persons on the ground. The National Transportation Safety Board listed the accident's probable cause as the airplane's encounter with microburst-induced wind shear, which imposed a downdraft and a decreasing headwind. As a contributory factor, the Board listed the limited ability of the current Low Level Wind Shear Alert System (LLWAS) to provide definitive guidance for controllers and pilots in avoiding the hazard (see Sep 1978). Although the pilot was aware that LLWAS alerts were occurring periodically around the airport, the system did not detect the wind shear that affected the Pan Am flight until after takeoff began. Concerned over the accident, Congress in Dec 1982 passed legislation requiring FAA to contract with the National Academy of Sciences for a study of the wind shear hazard. The resulting report, completed by the Academy's National Research Council in Sep 1983, urged that FAA establish an integrated wind shear program to address all aspects of the problem. The report's recommendations included the improvement and wider use of LLWAS, which it considered the only detection system available in the near term for operational use. In Oct 1983, FAA announced that it had ordered another 51 of the systems. (See Aug 2, 1985.) ”

Don Brown
July 9, 2007

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