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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation A-72-029
Details
Synopsis: A TRANS WORLD AIRLINES (TWA) BOEING 707, N6729TW, AND AN AMERICAN AIRLINES BOEING 707, N8432, NARROWLY AVOIDED A MIDAIR COLLISION AT APPROXIMATELY 35,000 FEET NEAR PHILIPSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA, ON JUNE 11, 1971, WHILE OPERATING WITHIN POSITIVE CONTROL AIRSPACE UNDER THE CONTROL JURISDICTION OF THE NEW YORK AIR ROUTE TRAFFIC CONTROL CENTER. AS A RESULT OF THE VIOLENT EVASIVE MANEUVER EXECUTED BY THE CAPTAIN OF THE TWA B-707, THREE PASSENGERS AND THE FLIGHT ENGINEER INCURRED MINOR INJURIES, BUT DID NOT REQUIRE IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION. NONE OF THE OCCUPANTS OF THE OTHER AIRCRAFT, WHOSE CREW WAS UNAWARE OF THE OCCURRENCE UNTIL SOME TIME LATER, WAS INJURED. THERE WAS NO DAMAGE TO EITHER AIRCRAFT, BOTH OF WHICH PROCEEDED ROUTINELY TO THEIR RESPECTIVE DESTINATIONS. THE NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD DETERMINES THAT THE PROBABLE CAUSE OF THIS INCIDENT WAS THE CONTROLLER'S MISIDENTIFICATION OF THE RADAR TARGET OF TW FLIGHT 31, N6729TW, DUE TO A TRANSITORY DIVERSION OF ATTENTION TO ANOTHER PORTION OF THE RADAR DISPLAY. THIS RESULTED IN INAPPROPRIATE TRAFFIC CONTROL ACTIONS WITH RESPECT TO THE AMERICAN AIRLINES AIRCRAFT AND PLACED THE TWO FLIGHTS ON A COLLISION COURSE AT THE SAME ALTITUDE.
Recommendation: THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION TO ASSURE THAT ALL AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL PERSONNEL ARE MADE AWARE OF THIS MISIDENTIFICATION INCIDENT SO THAT INCREASED VIGILANCE MAY RESULT AND SERVE TO PRECLUDE THE RECURRENCE OF SIMILAR INCIDENTS.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Aviation
Location: Phillipsburg, PA, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: OAK71IP052
Accident Reports: Trans World Airlines, Boeing 707, N6729TW and American Airlines Boeing 707, N8432
Report #: AAR-72-07
Accident Date: 6/11/1971
Issue Date: 1/12/1972
Date Closed: 4/27/1972
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FAA (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 4/6/1972
Response: 4/6/72 - THE FAA STATED THEY HAD ALSO INVESTIGATED THIS ACCIDENT AND HIGHLIGHTED THE IMPORTANCE OF RETAINING PROPER IDENTIFICATION OF RADAR TARGETS. OTHER AREAS WERE TO BE REVIEWED, SUCH AS; SECTORING OF CONTROL AREAS, MODIFICATION OF HANDOFF PROCEDURES AND ADJACENT SECTORS MONITORING THE SAME BEACON CODES. TWO SIGNIFICANT POINTS TO CONTROLLERS HAD BEEN STRESSED (1) THOSE PROVIDING ON-THE-JOB TRAINING TO OTHER PERSONNEL DEVOTE THEIR FULL ATTENTION TO THAT FUNCTION AND NOT ASSUME ANY OTHER DUTIES AND (2) ENSURE PROPER IDENTIFICATION AND RETENTION OF IDENTIFICATION OF AIRCRAFT RADAR TARGETS. COPIES OF THE BOARD'S INCIDENT REPORT WERE BEING DISTRIBUTED TO ALL ATC FACILITIESAND WILL BE THE SUBJECT OF CONTROLLER CREW BRIEFINGS.