DIA Crash Prompts New Safety Recommendations

Continental Flight 1404 Ran Off Runway, Broke Apart

The National Transportation Safety Board is issuing a list of 13 safety recommendations after Continental Flight 1404 ran off a runway at DIA and crashed.

The plane with 110 passengers and five crew members was in the midst of takeoff at Denver International Airport on Dec. 20, 2008 when it suddenly veered left off a runway, rumbled across a frozen field, broke into pieces and burned.

No one was killed, but six people were seriously injured and dozens more were treated for minor injuries.

The recommendations from the NTSB suggest that air traffic controllers be required to tell pilots the maximum wind a flight could encounter.

The NTSB wants to make sure cockpit crew seats meet crashworthiness standards and that certain jumpseats are inspected for fatigue cracks.

The list also suggests more research be done into how mountains and downslope weather conditions affect airports near mountains like Denver International Airport.

The full list of recommendations sent to the Federal Aviation Administration said:

1. Conduct research into and document the effects of mountain wave and downslope conditions at airports, such as Denver International Airport, that are located downwind of mountainous terrain (including, for example, airports in or near Colorado Springs, Colorado; Anchorage, Alaska; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Reno, Nevada), identify potential mountain-wave-related hazards to ground operations at those airports, and disseminate the results to pilots and airport air traffic control personnel to allow for more informed runway selection decisions. (A-10-105)

2. Archive all low-level windshear alert system (LLWAS) data obtained from Denver International Airport and other airports that experience similar wind conditions and make these data available for additional research and the potential future development of an improved LLWAS algorithm for crosswind and gusty wind alerts on air traffic control tower ribbon display terminals. (A-10-106)

3. Modify Federal Aviation Administration Order 7110.65 to require air traffic controllers at airports with multiple sources of wind information to provide pilots with the maximum wind component, including gusts, that the flight could encounter. (A-10-107)

4. Review the required documentation for all low-level windshear alert system (LLWAS)-equipped air traffic control towers to ensure that a letter to airmen has been published and is easily accessible describing the location and designation of the remote sensors, the capabilities and limitations of the system, and the availability of current LLWAS remote sensor wind information on the request of a pilot, in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration Order 7210.3. (A-10-108)

5. Require air traffic control towers to locally develop and implement written runway selection programs that proactively consider current and developing wind conditions and include clearly defined crosswind components, including wind gusts, when considering operational advantage with respect to runway selection. (A-10-109)

6. Gather data on surface winds at a sample of major U.S. airports (including Denver International Airport) when high wind conditions and significant gusts are present and use these data to develop realistic, gusty crosswind profiles for use in pilot simulator training programs. (A-10-110)

7. Require 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121, 135, and 91K operators to incorporate the realistic, gusty crosswind profiles developed as a result of Safety Recommendation A-10-110 into their pilot simulator training programs. (A-10-111)

8. Once realistic, gusty crosswind profiles as asked for in Safety Recommendation A-10-110 are developed, develop a standard methodology, including pilot-in-the-loop testing, for transport-category airplane manufacturers to establish empirically based, type-specific maximum-gusting-crosswind limitations for transport-category airplanes that account for wind gusts. (A-10-112)

9. Once a methodology as asked for in Safety Recommendation A-10-112 has been developed, require manufacturers of transport-category airplanes to develop type-specific, maximum-crosswind takeoff limitations that account for wind gusts. (A-10-113)

10. Until the actions described in Safety Recommendation A-10-113 are accomplished, require manufacturers of transport-category airplanes to provide operators with interim crosswind takeoff guidelines that account for wind gusts. (A-10-114)

11. Work with U.S. airline operators to review and analyze operational flight data to identify factors that contribute to encounters with excessive winds and use this information to develop and implement additional strategies for reducing the likelihood of wind-related runway excursions. (A-10-115)

12. Require cockpit crew seats installed in newly manufactured airplanes that were type certificated before 1988 to meet the crashworthiness standards contained in 14 Code of Federal Regulations 25.562. (A-10-116)

13. Require operators to perform periodic inspections on the Burns Aerospace model 2501-5 jumpseats for fatigue cracks within the jumpseat structure and replace the jumpseat if fatigue cracks are found. (A-10-117)

13. Require that operators of transport-category airplanes that use galley latches or latch plates secured solely by adhesives that may degrade over time modify the latches to include mechanical fasteners. (A-10-118)