Photo: N8845E, from www.jenewsphotos.com.

Eddie Sez:

This was the deadliest single-aircraft crash in U.S. history at the time, and it was a wake up call to the industry. By 1975 many U.S. based airlines had already seen several disastrous windshear mishaps, including one in Pago Pago just a year previous, where a Pan American World Airways Boeing 707 crashed and killed 97 of the 101 crew and passengers. That mishap, however was blamed on "destabilizing wind changes." While the terminology was still in its infancy, a preceding aircraft used the "wind shear" term exactly in a warning to other aircraft. That warning was heard by the crew of Eastern Air Lines flight 66, but it was ignored.

Out of this mishap grew windshear detection technology and a greater emphasis on pilot training. On a personal note, an aircraft that preceded Eastern 66 by just a few minutes pleaded with ground control to change the active runway. I believe the captain on that flight, Flying Tiger Line 161, was the person that taught me the minimum ground speed method. That story here: Flight Lessons / KC-135A Windshear.

What follows are quotes from the relevant regulatory documents, listed below, as well as my comments in blue.


Accident Report


Narrative

[NTSB AAR-76-08, page 2]

[NTSB AAR-76-08, ¶1.11]


Analysis

[NTSB AAR-76-08, page 5]

[NTSB AAR-76-08, page 8]

[NTSB AAR-76-08, ¶1.13]

[NTSB AAR-76-08, ¶1.16.1]


Probable Cause

[NTSB AAR-76-08, ¶2.2(b)] The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was 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."


See Also

Abnormal Procedures / Windshear


References

NTSB Aircraft Accident Report, AAR-76-08, Eastern Air Lines, Inc., Boeing 727-225, N8845E, John F. Kennedy International Airport, Jamaica, New York, June 24, 1975