Last revised: April 23, 2019

ATC - 25 Best Years - (1958-83)
Album # 8.


    1974 - Congress reestablished the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) as a separate entity outside of the Department of Transportation (DOT).

The NTSB's independence was necessary for proper oversight of the DOT's operational and regulatory responsibilities affecting the safety, adequacy, and efficiency of the transportation system. The NTSB conducts investigations and makes recommendations from an objective point of view.


March 3, 1974 - - Paris, France

   March 3, 1974 - Paris, France - The worst airplane disaster up to that time, when a Turkish Airlines DC-10 crashed on take-off.  The crash resulted from the failure of the rear cargo hatch latching system, which allowed the hatch to blow off in flight.

The flight crew struggled to gain control as the jet quickly attained a 20 degree nose-down attitude and started picking up speed. As the speed increased the additional lift started to raise the nose again, and the captain started to push the throttles forward again in order to level off. It was too late, and 72 seconds after decompression the jet slammed into the forest at a speed of almost 500 mph in a slight left turn. The speed of the impact caused the airliner to disintegrate.

The resulting decompression of the cargo hold caused the cabin floor above the hatch to collapse. The flight control cables for the jet that ran through the floor were severed, leaving the pilots with almost no control over the aircraft. French Air Traffic Controllers heard a distorted transmission, that the jet's pressurization and overspeed warnings were heard over the pilots' words in Turkish, including the copilot saying "the fuselage has burst."


This was the deadliest air crash of all time before the Tenerife Disaster event of 1977. It has the highest death toll of any aviation accident in France and the highest death toll of any accident involving a DC-10 anywhere in the world. It is also the deadliest single plane crash with no survivors.   (346 Fatalities)

New  (Airbus A-300) New

    May 30, 1974 - FAA certificated the Airbus A-300, the first of a series of wide-body transport aircraft produced by Airbus Industrie, an international consortium with French, West German, British, Spanish, Dutch, and Belgian partner companies. Airbus Industrie signaled greater competition for U.S. aircraft manufacturers.


   August 9, 1974 - Richard M. Nixon resigned the Presidency and was succeeded by Vice President Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr.

Ford is the only person to have served as both Vice President and President of the United States without being elected to either office. He was appointed to the vice presidency when Spiro Agnew resigned, and president when Nixon departed. He served 25 years as U.S. Representative from Michigan and 9 years as the House Minority Leader.

September 11, 1974- - Charlotte, NC

   September 11, 1974 - Charlotte, NC - An Eastern Air Lines  DC-9 crashed while attempting to land at the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport in dense ground fog. The jet crashed just short of the runway, killing 71 of the occupants. Thirteen people survived the initial impact, including the co-pilot and one flight attendant who walked away with no serious injuries. However, three more ultimately died from severe burns. The DC-9 was destroyed by the impact and resulting post-crash fire.   (74 Fatalities)

The NTSB found that the flight crew engaged in unnecessary and 'impertinent' conversations during the approach phase of the flight, discussing subjects 'ranging from politics to used cars'. Such non-essential chatter can distract pilots from their flying duties during the critical phases of flight, such as instrument approach to landing.

Another possible cause of the crash was that the crew was apparently trying to visually locate the Charlotte airport while executing an instrument approach in the presence of low-lying fog. Additionally, a persistent attempt to visually identify the nearby Carowinds Amusement Park Tower (known as "Carowinds Tower" to pilots, may have further distracted and confused the crew. none of the required altitude callouts was made by the captain which compounded the crew's near total lack of altitude awareness.

Probable Cause: The flight crew's lack of altitude awareness at critical points during the approach due to poor cockpit discipline in that the crew did not follow prescribed procedures.

The FAA recommended that airline management and air carrier pilot organizations initiate ways and means to improve professional standards among pilots. Five previous air carrier approach accidents indicated a casual acceptance of the flight environment, and serious lapses in expected professional conduct.

FAA Flight Inspection

November, 1974 - Although the Flight Inspection DC-3s were still reliable, they were too slow for the modern airspace system. Additionally, new technology using inertial navigation with DME updating and computer analysis was now available, consequently the FAA added a fleet of 20 Sabreliners to replace the DC-3s. Five Aero Commanders, AC-1121 Jet Commanders were also added.

In 1982 Flight Standards became the new Aviation Standards National Field Office (AVN). In 1986 The FAA ordered 19 Beechcraft Super King Air turboprops.

They also added 6 Hawker C-29's (BAE-800) to their fleet for international flight inspections.

The FAA is a world leader in the use of automation to develop instrument flight procedures, utilizing digitized terrain maps and a data base of comprehensive airspace, airport, and Navigational Aids (NAVAID) data. Flight Inspections involve departure procedures, airways, intersections, holding areas, arrival and departure routes and approach and missed approach procedures.

Additional aircraft of the FAA Flight Inspection fleet included 6 Lear Jets and 3 Canadian Challengers.

For views of many more FAA airplanes, visit this New Webpage
(DC-7, DC-9, B-727, Convair C-131, Cessna Citation, Convair 880, B-747)

December 1, 1974 - - Washington Dulles

   December 1, 1974 - Berryville, VA - TWA B-727 crashed on approach to Washington D.C.s Dulles International Airport. Flying a non-precision VOR approach in heavy winds and rain, the crew misidentified the final approach fix and began to descend prematurely, striking the ground approximately 14 miles from the runway.

The flight was being vectored for a non-precision instrument approach to Dulles. Air traffic controllers cleared the flight down to 7,000 feet before clearing them for the approach while not on a published segment. The B-727 began a descent to 1,800 feet shown on the first checkpoint for the published approach. There were some 100 to 200 foot altitude deviations, when the crew encountered heavy downdrafts and reduced visibility in snow. The jet impacted Mount Weather at 1,670 feet.

The NTSB was split in its decision as to whether the flight crew or air traffic control was responsible. The majority absolved the controllers as the plane was not on a published approach segment. The dissenting opinion was that the flight had been radar-vectored.

(92 Fatalities)



March 27,  1975 - Du Boise, PA - Non-fatal crash of an FAA twin-engine airplane (N6 - DC-3) crashed on take-off. The plane carried nine FAA officials who had come to Du Boise to present a flight safety award to the Du Bois Flight Service Station.

The DC-3 lost power in one engine and crashed, but remained upright. The injured were taken to Du Bois hospital for treatment. 6 were treated and released and 5 had been admitted including Duane Freer (Eastern Regional Director), Paul Bohr, Carl Peterson, Walter Kies and Harry Bernard. Ray Van Vuren, 42, chief of the FAA Air Traffic Division was among those released.

Probable Cause: "Loss of control at take-off because of the inexperience of the unqualified pilot making the take-off and because of the failure of the experienced pilot in the right seat to assume timely control. The accident sequence was initiated by poor judgment of the pilot-in-command in allowing an unqualified pilot to make the take-off and by the Regional Director's assuming the left seat which was contrary to his own operating rules to assure that the aircraft was operated by qualified pilots."

Earlier during the itinerary, the Regional Director, Duane Freer, who had no previous DC-3 experience, had told the Pilot-In-Command that he would like to get some flight time. Before taxiing, the PIC invited the Director to the cockpit to fly the aircraft. Freer took the left seat and the Second-In-Command was in the right seat. The PIC stood in the aisle to the rear of the two pilot seats, and maintained this position during the takeoff.

Director Freer held a commercial pilot certificate with a multi-engine rating, but had no previous experience in a Douglas DC-3. All his multi-engine pilot experience involved aircraft with tricycle landing gear, and not the tail landing gear of the DC-3.

June 24, 1975 - - Jamaica, NY

   June 24, 1975 - Jamaica, NY - Eastern Airlines B-727 from New Orleans to JFK struck approach lights during approach, and the jet broke up and caught fire. The jet encountered adverse winds associated with a very strong thunderstorm which resulted in high descent rate. Ten minutes prior, a Flying Tiger DC-8 reported tremendous wind shear and warned the tower, but other aircraft continued to land. After the DC-8, an Eastern L-1011 landing on the same runway nearly crashed. Two more aircraft landed prior to the Eastern B-727, and the captain was aware of reports of severe windshear on the final approach, but decided to land anyway.

As the B-727 hit the approach lights 2,400' from the threshold of Runway 22L, it banked to the left and continued to strike more lights until it burst into flames and scattered the wreckage along Rockaway Boulevard which runs around the perimeter of the airport.

The NTSB determined the probable cause to be the B-727's encounter with adverse winds in a very strong thunderstorm resulting in high descent rate into the approach light towers. Also the flight crew's delayed recognition and correction of the high descent rate, and their reliance upon visual cues rather than on flight instruments. However, the adverse winds might have been too severe for a successful approach and landing. Also, the continued use of Runway 22L should have become evident to both air traffic control personnel and the flight crew that a severe weather hazard existed on the approach path.

Of the 124 people on board, 106 passengers and 6 crew members died. Ten passengers and 2 flight attendants, seated in the rear of the B-727 survived.   (112 Fatalities)

This accident led to the development of the original low level wind-shear alert system by the FAA in 1976 that was installed at 110 FAA towered airports between 1977 and 1987.

April l, 1975
- President Ford asked for FAA Administrator Alexander Butterfield's resignation after his disclosure about the existence of White House tapes before the Senate Watergate Committee, and also his sharp differences with Secretary of Transportation Claude S. Brinegar.

     August 26, 1975 - The final phase of FAA's NAS En Route Stage A program to automate and computerize the nation's 20 En Route Air Traffic Control systems was completed with the commissioning of the Radar Data Processing (RDP) system at the Miami ARTCC.


    August, 1975 - ARTS III (Automated Radar Terminal System) was installed in the 63rd metropolitan terminal at Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport.

November 12, 1975 - - New York - JFK Airport

   November 12, 1975 - An Overseas National Airways (ONA) DC-10 crashed during an attempted takeoff at JFK when a large number of birds (seagulls) were ingested into the #3 Engine, damaging the fan blades resulting in rotor imbalance. The engine disintegrated and caught fire. The loss of the #3. engine caused the loss of the #2 braking system, as well as making the #3 engine thrust reversers inoperative and the DC-10 failed to decelerate effectively.


All 139 passengers and crew were  ONA employees; 2 were seriously injured, 30 others slightly injured  and there were no fatalities.

The FAA developed better methods of certifying aircraft engines, changed the location of the 'black boxes', required escape path lighting and began studies of bird control at airports. A bird strike can cause 'rotor imbalance' which could cause an engine to detach.

The FAA also required a retest of the General Electric CF6 engines with regards to bird ingestion criteria.

November 23, 1975
- President Gerald Ford names former Secretary of the Air Force, Dr. John Luther McLucas as FAA's 6th Administrator.

He was U.S. Secretary of the Air Force in 1973. Prior to that he was president and chief executive officer of MITRE Corporation. He received a B.S. degree from Davidson College; M.S. degree in physics from Tulane University and doctorate in physics from Pennsylvania State College.

December 29, 1975 - - LaGuardia Airport, NY

    December 29, 1975 - LaGuardia Airport, New York - A powerful bomb exploded in a baggage area in the main terminal. It was in a TWA locker adjacent to a luggage carousel. The bomb -- equivalent to 25 sticks of dynamite -- shattered plate glass windows 30' high, spraying glass shards like shrapnel, and hurled metal from shattered baggage carousels and coin-operated lockers. Amid the smoke and debris, 11 people died and 75 others were wounded.    (11 Fatalities)

There were no credible claims of responsibility and no arrests were ever made. It remains one of the bloodiest, most puzzling chapters in the history of American terrorism.


   January 2, 1976 - A Conflict-Alert System capable of warning en route traffic controllers of less than standard separation of aircraft under their control was implemented at all 20 en route centers.

Conflict Alert warns the controllers of a potential collision course between aircraft by continuously calculating the projected flight path of all aircraft under his coverage. Whenever the paths of two or more aircraft are projected to be closer than 1,000' in altitude and five miles horizontally, the aircraft's data blocks display a flashing "CA" on the radar screen.

New  (Concorde SST)  New


   January 21, 1976 - British Airways and Air France began the world's first scheduled supersonic passenger service with simultaneous takeoffs of Anglo-French Concorde SST aircraft from London and Paris for flights to Bahrain and Rio de Janeiro. Concorde flew regular transatlantic flights from London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to New York's JFK and Washington Dulles at record speeds (less than half the time of other jets).

The average SST flight time between New York and Paris was just under 3.5 hours. The Concorde had a maximum cruise altitude of 60,000' and an average cruise speed of Mach 2.02 (1,334 mph).

The SST was officially retired in October 2003, after almost 40 years of commercial service. The Concorde had only 1 accident. On July 25, 2000, an Air France Concorde departing Paris crashed 109 people on board died in a catastrophic fire as well as 5 people on the ground.

The Concorde's drooping nose enabled the jet to switch between being streamlined to reduce drag and achieve optimum aerodynamic efficiency, and not obstructing the pilot's view during taxi, takeoff, and landings. Prior to landing, the nose was lowered to 12.5 degrees below horizontal for maximum visibility.

RECORDS: The fastest transatlantic flight, on February 7, 1996, was from JFK to London in 2 hours, 52 minutes, 59 seconds from takeoff to touchdown.  An Eastbound Around the World air speed record was set in August 1995 from JFK in 31 hours 27 minutes, 49 seconds, including 6 refueling stops.

April 27, 1976 - - St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

   April 27, 1976 - St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands - An American Airlines B-727 crashed when it struck an Instrument Landing System antenna, went through a chain link fence, and traveled another 1,000' until stopped by a building.

The airport at St. Thomas was notorious among pilots for its short (4,700') runway. In fact, the  B-727 was the heaviest aircraft type authorized to use it, and only authorized in one direction.

The NTSB attributed this crash to pilot error on approach. The crew never applied the maximum flap setting of 40 degrees, and the jet 'floated' from the turbulent winds in the area and was 2,300' down the runway at the point of touchdown. The pilots were slow to apply brakes and proceeded to use full-throttle three seconds after touchdown, but unable to reach take-off speed because the engines on a B-727 are slow-responding, taking about 6.6 seconds to power up.

With only 700 feet of runway left, the pilot panicked and applied full brakes, but forgot to point the nose of the jet down, which would have significantly slowed the plane. Also, the pilot forgot to apply reverse engine thrust until immediately before impact.

The B-727 ran off the end of the runway and into a Shell gas station, killing 35 passengers and 2 flight attendants of the 88 on board. 38 other passengers and crew were injured and one person on the ground was seriously injured.   (37 Fatalities)

Probable Cause: The Captain's actions and judgment in not being aware that when he touched down 2,300 feet into a 4,700 foot runway, he did not have enough distance to perform a go-around.

As a result of the crash, American Airlines ended all jet flights to St. Thomas, and flew to St. Croix (which had a much longer runway), and passengers could fly to St. Thomas using prop aircraft. Jet flights resumed to St. Thomas when the runway was lengthened to 7,000'.

July 3, 1976 - - Boston, MA

   July 2, 1976 - Boston, MA - An unoccupied Eastern Airlines L-188 Electra parked at Boston Logan Airport was destroyed by a bomb planted in the landing gear compartment. No one was injured.


   November 5, 1976 - The first Minimum Safe Altitude Warning  (MSAW) System was commissioned at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). MSAW alerts the controller whenever a plane has descended below an appropriate altitude by flashing a "LOW ALT" message on his radar console.


   November 12, 1976 - The U.S. Civil Service Commission announced its support for upgrading air traffic controllers at 8 of the nation's busiest air traffic control facilities from GS-13 to GS-14, also approved upgrading of controllers at 23 other locations.

1st 25 Years:   | Pre-FAA | 1959 | 1962 | 1965 | 1967 | 1968 | 1970 | 1972 | 1974 | 1977 | 1979 | 1981 | 1982

Last revised: April 23, 2019

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