UPDATED With New Research:    March 07, 2017

ATC - Next 30 Years - (1983-2013)
Significant Chronological History -  (1985)

 New Updates:   (March 07, 2017) 

The Next 30 Years: 1983-2013

Commercial Aviation and Air Traffic Control



   January 1, 1985 - Eastern Air Lines Flight 980, Boeing-727, on a scheduled international flight from Asuncion, Paraguay to Miami, Florida struck Mount Illimani at an altitude of 19,000 feet. All 19 passengers and crew of 10 were killed.

The Houston-based cockpit crew was told to descend from 25,000 feet to 18,000 feet. At some point the aircraft steered significantly off the airway for unknown reasons, possibly to avoid weather.

The NTSB was unable to find the flight data recorder or the cockpit voice recorder or other critical information, because the wreckage was spread over a vast area and covered by 20-30 feet of snow.
(29 Fatalities)

Update: In 2016, two men from Massachusetts set out to solve this mystery of a plane crash. They climbed Mount Illimani and found parts of the plane, including a CO2 canister from a life jacket. Warm conditions over the last year revealed what had been encased in ice for decades. They found the cockpit voice recorder. It was demolished but they noticed wires coming out of it had lettering on them: CKPT VO RCDR.

The NTSB said they couldn't look at what they'd found without a request from the Bolivian government, and after several months of phone calls and letters, they managed to break through the bureaucracy.

They are still waiting for an analysis of the tape and hoping that they'll find out what happened on Flight 980.


   January 21, 1985 - Galaxy Airlines Flight 203, a Lockheed L-188 Electra, non-scheduled charter flight from Reno, Nevada to Minneapolis, Minnesota crashed shortly after takeoff due to improperly secured air start door. The lone survivor was thrown clear of the aircraft and landed upright, still in his seat. He was conscious and given first aid until the medics arrived.

The NTSB determined that the probable cause was the captain's failure to control and the copilot's failure to monitor the flight path and airspeed of the aircraft. This breakdown in crew coordination followed the onset of unexpected vibration shortly after takeoff. Contributing to the accident was the failure of ground handlers to properly close an air start access door, which led to the vibration.

Also, the ground handler supervisor realized that the headset being used to communicate with the flight crew was nonfunctional, and had to revert to using hand signals. This led the supervisor to signal the flight to taxi before the air start hose was disconnected. The report concluded that the air start access door is what led to the vibrations.

There were 3 survivors, but 2 died in the hospital a few days later.  (70 Fatalities)

-- B-747SP  --

    February 19, 1985 - China Airlines Flight 006, a Boeing-747SP, en route from Taiwan to Los Angeles had a flame-out of the No. 4 engine, while cruising at 41,000 feet. An attempt was made to restart the engine at FL 410 with the autopilot still engaged and the bleed air on. This was contrary to the flight manual procedure, which required the plane to be below 30,000 feet before any attempt to restart a flamed-out engine.

The airspeed continued to decrease, while the autopilot rolled the control wheel to the maximum left limit of 23 degrees. As the speed decreased even further, the jet began to roll to the right, even though the autopilot was maintaining the maximum left roll limit. By the time the captain disconnected the autopilot, the plane had rolled over 60 degrees to the right and the nose had begun to drop. Ailerons and flight spoilers were the only means available to the autopilot to keep the wings level. To counteract the asymmetrical forces created by the loss of thrust from the No. 4 engine, it was essential for the pilot to manually push on the left rudder. However, the captain failed to use any rudder inputs at all.

As the jet descended through clouds, the captain's attention was drawn to the artificial horizon which displayed excessive bank and pitch. Without any visual references and having rejected the information from the artificial horizon display, the crew became spatially disoriented. Only after breaking through the bottom of the clouds at 11,000 feet was the captain able to orient himself and bring the jet under control, leveling out at 9,600 feet. They had descended 30,000 feet in under 2 1/2 minutes, and experienced G-forces as high as 5G.

After leveling out, the 3 remaining engines were supplying normal thrust. A restart attempt brought engine No. 4 back into use, and they began climbing and reported to air traffic control that everything was normal and continued to Los Angeles. Then they noticed that the inboard main landing gear was down, and one of the jet's hydraulic systems was empty. Because they did not have sufficient fuel to reach Los Angeles with the drag added by the landing gear, they diverted to San Francisco. An emergency was declared and they flew straight to SFO.

 Only 2 passengers were injured, but the aircraft was significantly damaged by the excessive G-forces. The wings were permanently bent upwards by 2 inches, the inboard landing gear lost two actuator doors, and the two inboard main gear struts were left dangling. Most affected was the tail, where large outer parts of the horizontal stabilizer had been ripped off. The entire left outboard elevator had been lost along with its actuator, which had  been powered by the hydraulic system that ruptured and drained. After repairs were made to the jet it returned to service 3 months later.


   March 18, 1985 - FAA began an in-depth inspection of Continental Airlines, the 2nd special inspection since the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) began a strike against it.


   May 5, 1985 - FAA Administrator Engen and other FAA officials arrived in Beijing, China on a mission to foster closer cooperation between the U.S. and China in aviation matters.


   May 17, 1985 - United Airlines pilots went on strike over the company's plan for a two-tiered pay structure with lower pay for new pilots. The union and management soon reached an economic agreement, but back-to-work issues were delayed.
During the strike, FAA increased safety surveillance of United Operations, and used electronic equipment to help identify those harassing non-striking pilots with illegal radio transmission on Air Traffic Control frequencies.

-- 2-ENGINES (Over Water) --

   May 31, 1985 - FAA announced new criteria on extended range (ER) flights. The diversion time for a two-engine aircraft flying a route that at any point was more than one hour flying time was increased to two hours, provided that at least half of each extended-range route segment was less than 90 minutes of one-engine flying time from an airport. This change meant that some two-engine aircraft would be able to fly North Atlantic routes without veering far to the north.

-- PASS --

   June 6, 1985 - (PASS) The Professional Airway Systems Specialists (the bargaining agent for Airway Facilities technicians) agreed with the FAA on a  joint labor-management employee involvement (E-I) pilot program. They agreed to an 18-month test of E-I, to solve operational problems affecting employees.


   June 7, 1985 - FAA reduced the total flight hours required for a pilot to be eligible to obtain an instrument rating from 200 to 125. A contract study had indicated that the change would have no effect on pilots' ability to learn instrument flying skills, but would encourage them to acquire the rating earlier.

-- TWA B-727 --  

   June 14, 1985 - Two Lebanese Shiite Muslems hijacked a TWA B-727 departing Athens and diverted to Beirut, where additional hijackers joined them. During a two-week confrontation, they demanded the release of Shiite prisoners held by Israel.

The hijackers murdered one passenger, a U.S. Navy diver. They released the other 155 hostages (including 39 Americans) in stages, the last being freed on June 30. The Lebanese authorities held the jet in Beirut until August 16.    (1 American Fatality)

-- ARTS II --

    July 24, 1985 - FAA announced the award of a contract to upgrade the Automated Radar Terminal System (ARTS II) giving it certain additional safety features including conflict alert and Minimum Safe Altitude Warning capabilities. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for ARTS.


-- IBM 9020 --

   July 26, 1985 - FAA announced the award of a contract for replacement of the IBM 9020 computers at the nation's 20 Air Route Traffic Control Centers as part of the agency's Advanced Automation Program. IBM won the replacement contract in a competition with Sperry Corporation.

The new installations were designated the "Host" Computer Systems (HCSs) because of their ability to run the existing 9020 software package with minimum modifications.


August 2, 1985 - Delta Air Lines Flight 191, a Lockheed L-1011 Tristar, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Los Angeles, via Dallas crashed on approach to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport because of wind shear from a sudden microburst thunderstorm. The wind shear did not reach the sensors of the Low Level Wind Shear Alert system (LLWAS) until after the crash, a fact that demonstrated the system's limitations.


The tower controller advised Flight 191 that there was wind gusting up to 15 knots, which the captain acknowledged. The flight crew lowered the landing gear and extended the flaps for landing.

From this point the aircraft began a descent from which it never recovered. The angle of attack was over 30 degrees, and varied wildly over the next few seconds. The pitch angle began to sink and the jet started descending below the glide slope.

The aircraft struck the ground over a mile short of the runway hitting a car and two water tanks before disintegrating.

"Lightning coming out of that one...right ahead of us," the captain called out as they were at 1,000 feet and 14 seconds later he cautioned the copilot to watch his airspeed. Then warned "you're gonna lose it, all of a sudden, there it is" and then "push it up, push it way up". Several seconds later the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) recorded the sound of the engines spooling up. "That's it" and "hang on to the son of a bitch!"

The captain gave the order to apply maximum thrust and abort a landing by taking off and going around. The first officer responded by pulling up and raising the nose of the jet, which slowed but did not stop the plane's descent - still descending at a rate of approximately 10 feet per second. The landing gear made contact with a plowed field north of the runway. Remaining structurally intact, Flight 191 remained on the ground while rolling at high speed across the farmland.

The jet struck a highway street light and its nose gear touched down on the highway. The left engine hit a Toyota Celica and killed the driver instantly. As the jet continued south, it hit two more street lights and began fragmenting. The left horizontal stabilizer, some engine pieces, portions of the wing control surfaces, and parts of the nose gear came off of the aircraft as it continued traveling along the ground. Witnesses said there was fire coming from the left wing.

Surviving passengers reported that fire began entering the cabin through the left wall while the plane was still in motion. The jet finally stopped when it crashed into a pair of water tanks on the edge of the airport property. As the left wing and nose struck the water tank, the fuselage rotated counterclockwise and was engulfed in a fireball.

Most of the survivors were located in the rear smoking section of the aircraft which broke free from the main fuselage before the jet hit the water tanks.


The NTSB listed the cause of this crash was pilot error (for their decision to fly through a thunderstorm), combined with extreme weather phenomena associated with microburst-induced wind shear. The NTSB also determined that a lack of specific training, policies, and procedures for avoiding and escaping low-altitude wind shear was a contributing factor.

Of the 163 passengers and crew, 134 persons aboard the plane and one person on the ground died.  (135 Fatalities)


August 12, 1985 - Japan Airlines Flight 123, a Boeing B-747 crashed into Mount Osaka (70 miles north of Tokyo)  after a catastrophic failure of the pressure hull severs all hydraulic lines and rendered the aircraft uncontrollable.


Climbing to 24,000 feet, 12 minutes after take-off, the Jet was shaken by a depressurization explosion, and the captain was getting no response from his controls as a result of a total loss of hydraulic pressure.                          

The engines were still operating and the pilots attempted to direct the jet using the engines alone, and lowered the landing gear to try to help control the speed and stability. At 22,000 feet complete control was lost and the jet banked in a full circle. Heading towards Mount Osaka, the crew applied full power to climb, but the jet began to pitch up and down wildly, and the airspeed dropped rapidly to 108 knots. The B-747 crashed into the side of Mount Osaka at 4,780 feet.  Four people survived.  (524 Fatalities)


   August 20, 1985 - Trans World Airlines Board of Directors accepted a stock purchase from 'corporate raider' Carl C. Icahn, leading to Icahn's takeover of TWA before the end of 1985.


August 25, 1985 - Bar Harbor Airlines Flight 1808, a Beech-99 was on  a scheduled flight from Boston Logan International Airport to Bangor International Airport. On final approach to Auburn/Lewiston Municipal Airport, the Beechcraft crashed short of the runway, killing all eight people on board. 

The weather had been deteriorating with a reported 300-foot obscured indefinite ceiling and visibility of 1-mile in light drizzle. The crew were advised by a controller in Portland, that they were drifting east of the ILS approach course to runway 4 at Auburn. The controller advised them they were passing the Lewie NDB beacon at the outer marker for the approach. They were then cleared to switch to the airport's frequency which was the last transmission received from the flight. 

The aircraft flew into trees less than one mile from the end of runway 4 and struck the ground less than 500 feet to the right of the extended runway center line.  (8 Fatalities)

The NTSB noted that the controller in Portland used 'poor judgment' assisting the flight. However, it concluded that the captain accepted the large course correction and the crew continued flying an unstabilized approach instead of executing a missed approach. An incorrect altimeter setting may have caused the descent to continue below the published decision height. At night, in low visibility, the crew may have been unaware of their true position.


September 6,
1985 -  Midwest Express Airlines Flight 105, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9, flew from Madison, WI to Atlanta, GA with an intermediate stop in Milwaukee, WI. The Atlanta forecast included a 1,000 foot ceiling, visibility 2 miles, thunderstorms and rain showers.

Noise abatement takeoff procedures were in effect and Midwest Express used reduced thrust takeoff procedures to extend engine life. The DC-9 accelerated to 168 knots with a climb rate of about 3,000 feet/minute, indicating a normal two-engine initial takeoff flight path. At 450 feet there was a loud noise and a noticeable decrease in engine sound. The air traffic controller observed smoke and flames emanating from the right engine. Neither pilot made the call outs for 'Max Power' or 'Ignition Override-Check Fuel System' which were part of  the Midwest Express 'Engine Failure after V1" emergency procedure. The vertical acceleration dropped sharply and the airplane stalled, and crashed. (31 Fatalities)

The NTSB said the probable cause was the flight crew's improper use of flight controls in response to the catastrophic failure of the right engine during a critical phase of flight, which led to an accelerated stall and loss of control. The right engine failed from the rupture of the 9th to 10th stage removable sleeve spacer in the high pressure compressor because of the spacer's vulnerability to cracks.


   September 16, 1985 -  The FAA dedicated the last of 800 solid-state VORTAC air navigation aids. The new VORTACs are more reliable and energy-efficient than the tube-type equipment they replaced.

The new VORTACs are the first FAA systems to have Remote Maintenance Monitoring (RMM), a feature that greatly reduced the need for site visits..


   October, 1985 - FAA commissioned the first ARTS IIIA (Automated Radar Terminal Systems) installation at Ontario International Airport, California. The new package would be used at facilities employing data from more than one radar sensor. The new package included an enhanced conflict alert capability that was less prone to false alarms.



December 12, 1985 - A chartered DC-8 operated by Arrow Air crashed on takeoff from Gander, Newfoundland, Canada. 248 members of the 101st Airborne Division stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky were rotating back to the USA, as a peacekeeping force in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

The Canadian Aviation Safety Board cited ice accumulation on the leading surfaces of the wings, combined with the loss of thrust from one engine. It was also concluded that an in-flight explosion was likely.

Everyone on the DC-8 died, including 248 U.S. soldiers returning from the Mideast. (256 Fatalities)

The FAA increased surveillance of Arrow Air and its in-depth inspection of airlines operating under military charter, resulting in the grounding of all 10 of Arrow Air's DC-8s pending replacement of unapproved spare parts.

1st 25 Years:   | Pre-FAA | 1959 | 1962 | 1965 | 1967 | 1968 | 1970 | 1972 | 1974 | 1977 | 1979 | 1981 | 1982
 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 |
99 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 |  

Last revised: March 07, 2017

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