Air Crew Blamed for 137-Death Crash in Storm

Associated Press

A flight crew’s decision to land during a thunderstorm despite little information about ominous wind shears caused a Delta Air Lines jet to crash near Dallas last August, a federal agency concluded Tuesday.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the Lockheed L-1011 jumbo jet had flown into a multiple microburst--a violent down draft in a thunderstorm--and was unable to recover enough altitude to avoid falling to ground 6,000 feet short of the runway.

The accident killed 137 people, including a motorist traveling along a road near the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. There were 27 survivors.

The board rejected proposed findings by its staff--and one of its own members--that would have placed primary responsibility for the crash on Capt. Edward N. Connors.


Instead, the board said that “the probable causes of this accident were the flight crew’s decision to initiate and continue the approach into a cumulonimbus cloud which they observed to contain visible lightning, the lack of specific guidelines, procedures and training for avoiding and escape from low altitude wind shear, and the lack of definitive wind shear hazard information.”

Ira Furman, spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said its decision to include the flight crew in its final assessment “reflects the board’s general view that there also was a need for more assertiveness on the part of the first officer.” First Officer Rudy P. Price was actually flying the plane, he added.