Eastern Air Lines Flight 66
Eastern Air Lines
Eastern Air Lines
Eastern Air Lines was a major United States airline that existed from 1926 to 1991. Before its dissolution it was headquartered at Miami International Airport in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, Florida.-History:...

 Flight 66
, a Boeing 727
Boeing 727
The Boeing 727 is a mid-size, narrow-body, three-engine, T-tailed commercial jet airliner, manufactured by Boeing. The Boeing 727 first flew in 1963, and for over a decade more were built per year than any other jet airliner. When production ended in 1984 a total of 1,832 aircraft had been produced...

-225 with registration number N8845E, departed from New Orleans Moisant Field
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is a Class B public use international airport in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, United States. It is owned by the City of New Orleans and is located 10 nautical miles west of its central business district. The airport's address is 900 Airline Drive...

, bound for John F. Kennedy International Airport
John F. Kennedy International Airport
John F. Kennedy International Airport is an international airport located in the borough of Queens in New York City, about southeast of Lower Manhattan. It is the busiest international air passenger gateway to the United States, handling more international traffic than any other airport in North...

 on the afternoon of June 24, 1975. The aircraft carried 124 persons, including 116 passengers and 8 crew.

As the aircraft was on its final approach into New York Kennedy at 4:05 p.m. EST, the crew entered into a microburst
A microburst is a very localized column of sinking air, producing damaging divergent and straight-line winds at the surface that are similar to, but distinguishable from, tornadoes, which generally have convergent damage. There are two types of microbursts: wet microbursts and dry microbursts...

 or wind shear
Wind shear
Wind shear, sometimes referred to as windshear or wind gradient, is a difference in wind speed and direction over a relatively short distance in the atmosphere...

 environment caused by a severe thunderstorm
A thunderstorm, also known as an electrical storm, a lightning storm, thundershower or simply a storm is a form of weather characterized by the presence of lightning and its acoustic effect on the Earth's atmosphere known as thunder. The meteorologically assigned cloud type associated with the...

. The aircraft continued its descent until it began striking the approach lights approximately 2,400 feet from the threshold of Runway 22L. After the initial impact the aircraft banked to the left and continued to strike the approach lights until it burst into flames and scattered the wreckage along Rockaway Boulevard, which runs around the perimeter of the airport. Of the 124 people on board, 106 passengers and 6 crew members died. Ten passengers and 2 flight attendants, who were seated in the rear of the aircraft, survived. One surviving passenger died 9 days later from injuries sustained in the accident.

At the time, it was the deadliest single plane crash in United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 history. American Basketball Association
American Basketball Association
The American Basketball Association was a professional basketball league founded in 1967. The ABA ceased to exist with the ABA–NBA merger in 1976.-League history:...

 player Wendell Ladner
Wendell Ladner
Wendell Ladner was an American professional basketball player. He played college basketball at The University of Southern Mississippi where he became a member of Phi Kappa Tau fraternity....

 was among those killed in the crash.

As the investigation progressed, it was found that 10 minutes prior to Flight 66 crashing, a Flying Tiger Line
Flying Tiger Line
Flying Tiger Line, also known as Flying Tigers, was the first scheduled cargo airline in the United States and a major military charter operator during the Cold War era for both cargo and personnel .- History :...

 Douglas DC-8
Douglas DC-8
The Douglas DC-8 is a four-engined narrow-body passenger commercial jet airliner, manufactured from 1958 to 1972 by the Douglas Aircraft Company...

 cargo jet landing on Runway 22L reported tremendous wind shear on the ground. The pilot warned the tower of the fact, but other aircraft continued to land. After the DC-8, an Eastern Air Lines
Eastern Air Lines
Eastern Air Lines was a major United States airline that existed from 1926 to 1991. Before its dissolution it was headquartered at Miami International Airport in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, Florida.-History:...

 Lockheed L-1011
Lockheed L-1011
The Lockheed L-1011 TriStar, commonly referred to as the L-1011 or TriStar, is a medium-to-long range, widebody passenger trijet airliner. It was the third widebody airliner to enter commercial operations, following the Boeing 747 and the McDonnell Douglas DC-10. Between 1968 and 1984, Lockheed...

 landing on the same runway nearly crashed. Two more aircraft landed prior to Flight 66.
According to the conversation recorded by the Cockpit Voice Recorder
Cockpit voice recorder
A cockpit voice recorder , often referred to as a "black box", is a flight recorder used to record the audio environment in the flight deck of an aircraft for the purpose of investigation of accidents and incidents...

, the captain of Flight 66 was aware of reports of severe windshear on the final approach path (which he confirmed by radio to the Final Vector controller) but decided to press on nonetheless.

Investigation and results

The accident was investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board
National Transportation Safety Board
The National Transportation Safety Board is an independent U.S. government investigative agency responsible for civil transportation accident investigation. In this role, the NTSB investigates and reports on aviation accidents and incidents, certain types of highway crashes, ship and marine...

 (NTSB), which published its final report on March 12, 1976. In that report, the NTSB determined the following probable cause for the accident:
"The aircraft's encounter with adverse winds associated with a very strong thunderstorm located astride the ILS localizer course, which resulted in high descent rate into the non-frangible approach light towers. The flight crew's delayed recognition and correction of the high descent rate were probably associated with their reliance upon visual cues rather than on flight instrument reference. However, the adverse winds might have been too severe for a successful approach and landing even had they relied upon and responded rapidly to the indications of the flight instruments."

The NTSB also found the following contributing factor:
"Contributing to the accident was the continued use of runway 22L when it should have become evident to both air traffic control personnel and the flight crew that a severe weather hazard existed along the approach path."

This accident led to the development of the original low level windshear alert system
Low level windshear alert system
A Low level windshear alert system measures wind speed and direction at remote sensor station sites situated around an airport.Each equipped airport may have as few as 6 or as many as 32 remote anemometer stations. The remote sensor data received is transmitted to a master station, which generates...

 by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
Federal Aviation Administration
The Federal Aviation Administration is the national aviation authority of the United States. An agency of the United States Department of Transportation, it has authority to regulate and oversee all aspects of civil aviation in the U.S...

 in 1976 that was installed at 110 FAA towered airports between 1977 and 1987.

See also

  • Lists of accidents and incidents on commercial airliners
  • Microburst
  • Air safety
    Air safety
    Air safety is a term encompassing the theory, investigation and categorization of flight failures, and the prevention of such failures through regulation, education and training. It can also be applied in the context of campaigns that inform the public as to the safety of air travel.-United...

  • Delta Flight 191
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