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Accident Report Detail

Runway Departure During Attempted Takeoff, Tower Air Flight 41 Boeing 747-136, N605FF

Executive Summary

On December 20, 1995, at 1136, Tower Air flight 41, a Boeing B-747, veered off the left side of runway 4L during an attempted takeoff at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Jamaica, New York. The flight was a regularly scheduled passenger/cargo flight conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 121. Of the 468 persons aboard (451 passengers, 12 cabin crewmembers, 3 flightcrew members, and 2 cockpit jumpseat occupants), 24 passengers sustained minor injuries, and a flight attendant received serious injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The weather at the time of the accident was partially obscured, with a 700-foot broken cloud ceiling, 1½ mile visibility, light snow, and fog.

The safety issues discussed in this report include the adequacy of Boeing and air carrier procedures for B-747 operations on slippery runways; adequacy of flight simulators for training B-747 pilots in slippery runway operations; security of galley equipment installed on transport category aircraft; role of communications among flight attendants and between the cabin crew and the flightcrew; adequacy of Tower Air galley security training; compliance of Tower Air’s maintenance department with its established procedures; failure of the FDR system to function during the accident; adequacy of the Tower Air operational management structure; adequacy of FAA surveillance and workload imposed on POIs; adequacy of runway friction measurement requirements, including correlation of runway friction measurements with aircraft braking and ground handling performance.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the captain’s failure to reject the takeoff in a timely manner when excessive nosewheel steering tiller inputs resulted in a loss of directional control on a slippery runway. Inadequate Boeing 747 slippery runway operating procedures developed by Tower Air, Inc., and the Boeing Commercial Airplane Group and the inadequate fidelity of B-747 flight training simulators for slippery runway operations contributed to the cause of this accident. The captain’s reapplication of forward thrust before the airplane departed the left side of the runway contributed to the severity of the runway excursion and damage to the airplane.

Accident Location: Jamaica , NY    
Accident Date: 12/20/1995
Accident ID: DCA96MA029

Date Adopted: 12/2/1996
NTSB Number: AAR-96-04
NTIS Number: PB96-910404