Photo of Eastern 727-225, N8845E landing at Miami in February 1974
Photo of Eastern 727-225, N8845E landing at Miami in February 1974
Photo copyright Bob Garrard - used with permission
Accident Perspectives:
Airplane Life Cycle
  • Operational
Accident Threat CategoriesGroupings
  • Windshear
  • Loss of Control
  • Approach and Landing
Accident Common Themes
  • Flawed Assumptions

Eastern Airlines Flight 66, B727

Location: JFK Int'l Airport

Date: June 24,1975

On June 24, 1975, at 1605 Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), Eastern Airlines Flight 66, a Boeing 727, approaching to land at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport runway 22L, encountered adverse winds and heavy rain associated with a very strong thunderstorm. The winds resulted in a high descent rate, and the aircraft impacted the approach light towers short of the intended runway. The aircraft caught fire and came to rest on a highway, just north of the runway threshold. The impact sequence and resultant fire destroyed the aircraft. Of the 124 persons aboard, 113 passengers and crewmembers died in the crash.

This accident highlighted the inadequacies of terminal area weather analysis related to the recognition, and reporting of severe weather information. It also highlighted the need for flightcrews to recognize and avoid low-altitude hazards associated with thunderstorms along or near the approach path. It further emphasized the need for air traffic control to refine standard operating procedures to respond to severe weather in and around the terminal area. Meteorological analysis of this accident led to the discovery of severe downdraft phenomena associated with convective systems, and the termdownburstwas developed. This accident became the catalyst for further research which led to the definition of a specific danger to aviation known as amicroburst,which is a concentrated downburst that affects an area 4 km (2.5 mi) in diameter, or less, and can generate winds in excess of 160 mph. Following the accident, subsequent research resulted in the development and deployment of the Low Level Windshear Alert System (LLWAS) at over 100 airports over the next decade.