UPDATED With New Research:    March 07, 2017

ATC - Next 30 Years - (1983-2013)
Significant Chronological History -  (1987)

 New Updates:   (March 07, 2017) 

The Next 30 Years: 1983-2013

Commercial Aviation and Air Traffic Control



January 15, 1987 - Skywest Airlines, with a fleet of 362 aircraft, and partners including UAL, DAL, AA, and Alaska airlines, is located in St. George, Utah. Their Fairchild Swearingen Metro II, Skywest Flight 1834 collided in Mid-Air with a private Mooney M-20 near Salt Lake City, Utah killing all 10 aboard both aircraft. The Mooney M-20 had two crew: an instructor and a student pilot.     (10 Fatalities).


An investigation blamed the Mooney M-20 instructor pilot for straying into the Salt Lake City Airport radar service area. The Mooney did not have a Mode-C transponder.


          February 1, 1987 - The Texas Air holding corporation merged New York Air and People Express into                                                                              Continental Airlines.



March 4, 1987 - Northwest Airlink Flight 2268, a CASA C-212 Aviocar crashed while attempting to land at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) in Detroit, Michigan. killing 9 of the 19 passengers and crew aboard.  (9 Fatalities). 10 people on the ground were also injured in this accident.


After being cleared for a visual approach to Runway 21R, at 65 feet above the ground the aircraft banked left in a descent and then rolled right. The twin-engine turboprop aircraft struck the ramp area to the left of the runway threshold, flipping over, and then striking a catering truck before bursting into flames.

The CASA C-212 is a turboprop-powered STOL medium transport aircraft designed and built by CASA in Spain. The C-212 has a high-mounted wing, a boxy fuselage, and a conventional tail. The tricycle undercarriage is non-retractable. It has space for up to 28 passengers, depending on configuration. Since it does not have a pressurized fuselage, it is limited to relatively low-flight-level airline usage. (below 10,000 feet)

An investigation was difficult because the CASA C-212 did not have a flight data recorder or cockpit voice recorder. The NTSB determined that the probable cause of the accident  was the captain's inability to control the airplane in an attempt to recover from a power condition at low speed following his intentional use of the beta mode of propeller operation to descend and slow the airplane rapidly on final approach. Other factors include an unstabilized visual approach, the presence of a departing DC-9 and the desire to make a short-field landing.


   March 18, 1987 - Donald D. Engen announced his resignation as FAA Administrator, effective July 2, 1987. The position of Acting Administrator was filled by Robert Whittington, Director of the New England Region.


   April 1, 1987 - Western Airlines merged into Delta Air Lines.




   May 17, 1987 - FAA began using the Aircraft Situation Display (ASD) at its Central Flow Control Facility at Washington Headquarters. ASD  provided traffic managers  with a near real-time visual display of en route aircraft operating under instrument flight rules, nationally, regionally, or to a specific airport terminal area.

The information for ASD is provided by more than 100 long-range radars across the country.


 May 19, 1987 - Pacific Southwest Airlines merged into US Air.




   May 20, 1987 - FAA Administrator Donald  Engen announced that the agency had formally adopted a new policy that permitted Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) to be installed at some hub and reliever airports. Earlier it had imposed a freeze on installation of ILS in favor of Microwave Landing Systems (MLS). Engen said that more ILSs would help address the problem of limited airport capacity in the short run.



May 29, 1987 - FAA commissioned the first of its Host Computer Systems at the Seattle Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC).



-- NATCA --


   June 19, 1987 - The Federal Labor Relations Authority certified the National Air Traffic Controllers Association as the exclusive representatives of all GS-2152 series terminal and center controllers whose primary duty was separation of aircraft. The controllers had voted for representation by a margin of 7,494 to 3,275.



   July 1, 1987 - Air California, flying since January 1967 as an intrastate carrier expanded to destinations outside the state in 1978. The airline had adopted the name AirCal in 1981, and now merged into American Airlines.



   July 22, 1987 - T. Allan McArtor became the 10th FAA Administrator, succeeding Donald Engen. President Reagan  had announced the new Administrator's appointment and the Senate had confirmed it on July 17.

McArtor received a B.S.E. from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1964 and a M.S.E. in engineering mechanics from Arizona State University in 1971. He was a fighter pilot in Vietnam and logged 200 combat missions and won the Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross.

From 1972 to 1974 McArtor flew with the Air Force Thunderbirds precision flying team. He joined the Federal Express Corporation in  1979, and was senior vice-president for telecommunications when he was selected to head the FAA.

He had also chaired the Department of Transportation Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee from June 1986 to June 1987.


  August 16, 1987 - A Northwest Airlines flight 255, a McDonnell Douglas  MD-82 crashed shortly after takeoff from Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, killing all but one of the 157 persons aboard as well as two persons on the ground.

Flight 255 departed Saginaw, MI, flying to John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, California with intermediate stops at Detroit and Sky Harbor in Phoenix, AZ. The pilots expected to be using runways 21L or 21R, but the tower cleared them for takeoff from Detroit's runway 3C, the shortest available runway.

The jet lifted off the runway at 170 knots and began to roll from side to side just under 50 feet above the ground. The MD-82's rate of climb was greatly reduced as a result of flaps not being extended. Now 2,760 feet past the end of runway 3C, the jet's left wing struck a light pole in an airport rental car lot. The impact caused the left wing to start disintegrating and catch fire. The plane rolled 90 degrees to the left, striking the roof of an Avis car rental building and crashed inverted onto Middlebelt Road and struck vehicles just north of its intersection with Wick Road, killing two people on the ground in an auto. It then broke apart, with the fuselage skidding across the road, disintegrating and bursting into flames as it hit a railroad overpass.  (158 Fatalities)  including 2 on the ground.
Debris from Flight 255 scattered along Middlebelt Road, near I-94 in Romulus, MI.

Two motorists on Middlebelt Road died and five people on the ground were injured, one seriously. More than 30 passengers on the flight were under age 25, and two 12-year-olds were unaccompanied minors. The sole survivor of the crash was a 4-year-old girl from Tempe, AZ. She was found belted in her seat several feet from the bodies of her mother and father and 6-year-old brother.

The NTSB determined that the probable cause of this accident was the flight crew's failure to use the taxi checklist to ensure that the flaps and slats were extended for takeoff. Contributing to the accident was the absence of electrical power to the jet takeoff warning system which did not warn the flight crew that the airplane was not configured properly for takeoff.

The FAA recommendations included required changes to MD-80 warning systems and steps aimed at improving flight crew performance.


October 1, 1987 - Elizabeth Hanford Dole resigned as Secretary of Transportation and Deputy Secretary James H. Burnley IV became Acting Secretary. Burnley had been the DOT's General Counsel and before that an Associate Deputy Attorney General at the Justice Department.

He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude from Yale University, and received his Juris Doctor from Harvard University. On December 3, he became Secretary of Transportation.


November 15, 1987 - Flight 1713, Continental Airlines DC-9,  a scheduled flight to Boise, Idaho, crashed on takeoff at Denver Stapleton airport, killing 28 of the 82 persons on board. Many flights were delayed because of moderate, wet snowfall. The flight crew taxied from its gate to the deicing pad without requesting taxi clearance.

Holding at the end of Runway 35L, the crew was ready for takeoff, and after holding for several minutes they were cleared for takeoff. As the plane was taking off, it over-rotated and the aircraft descended with the left wing striking the ground causing a wing to separate. A fuel-fed flash fire ignited causing a 'fireball' inside the cabin. The left side of the plane and cockpit struck the ground next and the jet continued rolling, inverted. As the plane skidded, the left side was tilted over and the tail was inverted. This caused the middle part of the plane to compress and crush many of the passengers.  (28 Fatalities)

The NTSB cited the probable cause of the crash as the captain's failure to have the airplane de-iced a 2nd time after a delay before takeoff. Contributing factors included the absence of regulatory or management controls governing operations by newly qualified flight crew members and the confusion that existed between the flight crew and air traffic controllers that led to the departure delay. Twenty-seven minutes had elapsed between the conclusion of deicing and the DC-9's attempt to take off, 7 minutes longer than should have been allowed to elapse before takeoff.

The NTSB concluded that the wing surface became contaminated by a build-up of ice on the wings prior to departure. Also the first officer rotated the jet at more than 6 degrees per second, or twice the recommended rate. Combined with the effects of ice on the wing, the high ascent rate caused the jet's left wing to stall and the plane to begin rolling over.

The captain, with no more than 166 hours of experience on the DC-9, had been dismissed by another airline after failing 3 times to pass a flight exam.


December 7, 1987 - A Pacific Southwest, PSA Flight 1771, BAE-146 from Los Angeles to San Francisco, California, crashed in Cayucos, CA, near Paso Robles, California killing all 43 on board. Gunfire was heard on the cockpit voice recorder and it was determined later that a vengeful former employee caused the crash. Five people, including two pilots. were shot dead before the plane crashed. The crash killed the president of Chevron USA along with 3 of that company's public affairs executives. Also killed were 3 officials of Pacific Bell, prompting many large corporations to create policies which forbade group travel by executives on the same flight.  (43 Fatalities)


The FAA ordered all airlines operating at U.S. airports to screen all their employees entering secure areas with the same metal detectors and baggage X-Ray equipment used for passengers. They also included a law that required 'immediate seizure of all airline and airport employee credentials' after an employee's termination from an airline or airport position.

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Last revised: March 07, 2017

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