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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation A-86-071
Details
Synopsis: ON AUGUST 2, 1985, AT 1805:52 CENTRAL DAYLIGHT TIME, DELTA AIR LINES (DELTA) FLIGHT 191, A LOCKHEED L-1011-385-1, N726DA, CRASHED WHILE APPROACHING TO LAND ON RUNWAY 17L AT THE DALLAS/FORT WORTH INTERNATIONAL (DFW) AIRPORT, TEXAS. WHILE PASSING THROUGH THE RAIN SHAFT BENEATH A THUNDERSTORM, FLIGHT 191 ENTERED A MICROBURST WHICH THE PILOT WAS UNABLE TO TRAVERSE SUCCESSFULLY. THE AIRPLANE STRUCK THE GROUND ABOUT 6,300 FEET NORTH OF THE APPROACH END OF RUNWAY 17L, HIT A CAR ON A HIGHWAY NORTH OF THE RUNWAY KILLING THE DRIVER, STRUCK TWO WATER TANKS ON THE AIRPORT, AND BROKE APART. EXCEPT FOR A SECTION OF THE AIRPLANE CONTAINING THE AFT FUSELAGE AND EMPENNAGE, THE REMAINDER OF THE AIRPLANE DISINTEGRATED DURING THE IMPACT SEQUENCE, AND A SEVERE FIRE ERUPTED DURING THE IMPACT SEQUENCE. OF THE 163 PERSONS ABOARD, 134 PASSENGERS AND CREWMEMBERS WERE KILLED; 26 PASSENGERS AND 3 CABIN ATTENDANTS SURVIVED.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: DEVELOP A POSITION IN MAJOR TERMINAL FACILITIES, TO BE STAFFED WITH NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS OR FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION PERSONNEL TRAINED FOR METEOROLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS, TO BE THE FOCAL POINT FOR WEATHER INFORMATION COORDINATION DURING PERIODS OF CONVECTIVE WEATHER ACTIVITY THAT ADVERSELY AFFECTS AIRCRAFT AND AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL SYSTEM OPERATIONS.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Unacceptable Action
Mode: Aviation
Location: DALLAS/FT WORTH, TX, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA85AA031
Accident Reports: Delta Air Lines, Inc., Lockheed L-1011-385-1, N726DA
Report #: AAR-86-05
Accident Date: 8/2/1985
Issue Date: 9/3/1986
Date Closed: 6/18/1990
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FAA (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Keyword(s): Weather, Staffing, Air Traffic Control

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 6/18/1990
Response:

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 10/27/1988
Response:

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 1/7/1988
Response: The FAA previously advised the Safety Board that its facility managers were instructed to review their procedures for the timely dissemination of weather data, especially during periods of convective weather activities. The FAA is confident that identified weaknesses have been corrected. The Center Weather Service Unit (CWSU) has been tasked with the responsibility for evaluating the weather within its assigned airspace and for providing forecasts of potential hazardous conditions that may develop. Direct communications have been provided between the CWSU and the associated major terminal facilities to provide for rapid dissemination of any hazardous weather conditions that may develop. In addition, the FAA believes that there are a number of significant programs in the National Airspace System Plan that will more than accomplish our mutual objective and fully satisfy the intent of this safety recommendation. More specifically, they are the Graphic Weather Display System (GWDS), the new airport surveillance radars (ASR-9), and the next generation weather radar (NEXRAD). Installation of the GWDS equipment is anticipated to commence in Fiscal Year 1989 and will be associated with traffic management units at 16 major terminal facilities (Denver, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas Ft. Worth, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Pittsburg, Philadelphia, Washington National, Charlotte, Memphis, Atlanta, Miami, and 2 TRACONS--Bay and New York). The intent of the program is to provide near real-time graphic weather of current/projected weather based on weather satellite, weather radar, and National Weather Service data. The program also includes formal training for the traffic management coordinators. With the advent of the ASR-9 system which is to be installed at 56 terminal locations beginning this fiscal year, more precise weather information will be instantaneously displayed to controllers enabling them to better detect and guide aircraft through inclement weather situations. The ASR-9 provides a significant advance over current technology by employing separate channels for weather and traffic data, thus precluding the suppression of weather over live traffic information. Additionally, the ASR-9 is capable of displaying weather data indicating six different intensity levels ranging from weak to extreme. Deployment of NEXRAD is scheduled for the 1990-1992 time frame. This weather radar system will be able to detect wind shear, microbursts, and gust fronts. I believe that the FAA actions on this recommendation are responsive to the Board's concern, and I plan no further action on this safety recommendation.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 9/11/1987
Response: The Safety Board appreciates the FAA action of sending an action letter to all regional air traffic division managers regarding the timely dissemination of weather information during periods of convective weather. However, the Board maintains that suitably trained personnel should be available as a focal point for coordinating weather information at the major terminal facilities. It is the Board's opinion that the Center Weather Service Unit (CWSU) is responsible for the evaluation of developing weather over a very large area, which involves en route flights and many terminal areas. Therefore, it may be difficult for the CWSU to provide the detailed and timely local weather information necessary at the major terminals during periods of rapidly developing and intensifying weather. Recently members of the Safety Board staff and myself visited the control tower at Stapleton International Airport, Denver, Colorado to inspect the use and operation of the test Doppler radar site. During that visit we were informed that a meteorologist had been assigned to the tower for the test and operational evaluation of the radar. Tower personnel indicated that the presence of the meteorologist added significantly to the capability of the tower and provided controllers with weather information on a much more timely basis than had been achieved in the past. One of the remarks received was that the controllers believed that the meteorologist, although temporarily assigned, was part of the tower team. It is the Board's opinion that considering how well the staffing of a meteorologist in a terminal facility has worked at Denver that the FAA should reevaluate its position on this issue. Therefore, pending further correspondence, Safety Recommendation A- 86-71 has been classified as "Open--Unacceptable Action."

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 7/15/1987
Response: As stated in our letter dated December 16, 1986, the FAA does not agree that a weather position should be developed as suggested by this recommendation. The FAA also stated that the present procedures, with the possible realignment of responsibilities during periods of convective weather activity, would be a better solution. On March 14, 1987, the FAA sent an action letter to all regional air traffic division managers regarding the timely dissemination of weather information during periods of convective weather. This letter requests that each division manager review his/her facility's positions/procedures and realign responsibilities during periods of convective weather activity to ensure the timely dissemination of weather updates. I have enclosed a copy of this action letter for the Board's information.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 3/20/1987
Response: The Safety Board maintains that suitably trained personnel should be available as a focal point for coordinating weather information at the major terminal facilities. It is the Board's opinion that the Center Weather Service Unit (CWSU) is responsible for the evaluation of developing weather over a very large area, which involves en route flights and many terminal areas. Therefore, it may be difficult for the CWSU to provide the detailed and timely local weather observations necessary at the major terminals during periods of rapidly developing and intensifying weather. The board requests that the FAA reconsider its position on this issue. Pending further correspondence, Safety Recommendation A-86-71 has been classified as "Open-- Unacceptable Action."

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 12/16/1986
Response: THE FAA DOES NOT AGREE THAT A WEATHER POSITION SHOULD BE DEVELOPED AS SUGGESTED BY THIS RECOMMENDATION. THE FAA'S PRESENT PROCEDURES, WITH THE POSSIBLE REALIGNMENT OF RESPONSIBILITIES DURING PERIODS OF CONVECTIVE WEATHER ACTIVITY, WOULD BE A MORE COST-EFFECTIVE SOLUTION. THE FAA IS REVIEWING ALTERNATE SOLUTIONS AND WILL KEEP THE BOARD APPRISED OF ITS ACTIONS.