NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


January 7, 1998

Washington, DC – The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will convene a pubic hearing in Honolulu, Hawaii, March 24-26, 1998, as part of its ongoing investigation into the fatal crash last August of Korean Air (KAL) flight 801.

KAL 801, a Boeing 747-300 on a regularly scheduled passenger flight from Seoul, South Korea, crashed into a hillside on August 6, 1997, while attempting to land at Won Pat International Airport at Agana, Guam. There were 254 passengers and crew aboard the aircraft; 228 lost their lives.

The hearing will take place at the Honolulu Convention Center, 1833 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, with NTSB Vice Chairman Robert T. Francis presiding. Mr. Francis, who holds a commercial pilot certificate, has been the NTSB member on scene at several major accidents, including the crash of TWA flight 800 off the coast of Long Island, NY, in July 1996.

"This hearing is important," said Mr. Francis, "because many of the issues uncovered in the KAL investigation have serious implications for the safety of air travel throughout the United States and worldwide. We had the crash of an aircraft that appeared to be operating normally, with a great loss of life and serious injuries to the survivors. We need to look deeply into the causes of this accident and try to develop measures to prevent similar tragedies in the future." Mr. Francis noted that the hearing would focus on:

• Controlled-flight-into-terrain (CFIT) accidents, and airline procedures and training, and regulatory actions, designed to avoid such accidents;

• Air traffic control and policies and procedures for installation and maintenance of navigational aids at the Guam airport;

• FAA development, installation, and quality assurance oversight of the Minimum Safe Altitude Warning (MSAW) system, and MSAW operational practices at Guam and nationwide;

• Post-accident search and rescue activities;

• FAA oversight of foreign air carriers to ensure an acceptable level of safety during operations in the U.S.

Mr. Francis will be assisted by senior NTSB technical staff and representatives of the parties participating in the investigation. The hearing will follow established Board procedures, with various aviation experts and others involved in the accident providing testimony and answering questions under oath.

The NTSB, an independent federal accident investigation agency, is expected to issue a final report on the KAL accident at a public meeting at Board headquarters later this year.

Since its creation in 1967, the Board's mission has been to determine the probable cause(s) of transportation accidents and make recommendations to improve transportation safety. Safety recommendations are usually contained in the final report but can be issued at anytime during an investigation, if deemed necessary by the Board.

The NTSB, with about 370 employees in Washington DC and nine field offices around the country, investigates about 2,500 accidents per year, including all U.S. civil aviation and government "public use" aircraft accidents, and major rail, marine, highway, pipeline and hazardous material accidents.

Media Contacts: Paul Schlamm or Keith Holloway
(202) 314-6100
fax: (202) 314-6110



The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.