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Controllers in Delta Crash Defend Acts

August 23, 1985|Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Tex. — Two air traffic controllers who handled the Delta Air Lines jet that crashed, killing 134 people, on final approach to the Dallas airport said in a report published today that there was nothing they could have done to prevent the disaster.

The controllers, in their first public remarks since the crash, said they had no idea how severe the weather was at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport until 100-m.p.h. winds were clocked there minutes after the Lockheed L-1011 went down.

"That night going home, I felt like there was nothing I could have done or should have done that would have changed anything," said a 46-year-old Garland man who controlled the flight until six minutes before the crash.

"I don't think any information was withheld from the pilot that he would have made a different decision than he did" to fly into the rain, he said.

2 Controllers Interviewed

Two of the three controllers monitoring Delta Flight 191 on Aug. 2 were interviewed by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and spoke on condition they not be identified by name.

"It's just a feeling of helplessness," said a controller from Irving, who had given the pilot clearance to land, then futilely commanded, "Go around."

"You're standing there looking at an airplane explode and you know that people are dying . . . ," he said. "There's not a . . . thing you can do for them. Zero."

Thirty people survived the crash of the jumbo jet.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators have not determined the cause of the crash, but wind shear, a sudden shift in wind speed and direction spawned by severe thunderstorms, is a prime suspect.

The controller from Irving said that when he saw the plane break through the rain, he had no idea that weather was responsible for its low altitude. He said he ordered the abort believing the pilot could pull back into the sky.

"Instinct--after years and years and years of watching airplanes landing, it appeared to me he was at an improper attitude to land," he said. "It was just instinct to say, 'Delta, go around.' "

The plane touched down in a field 1,777 feet north of the runway, lifted and smacked into a car on Texas Highway 114, killing the driver.

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