Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation A-00-008
Details
Synopsis: On 8/6/97, about 0142:26 Guam local time, Korean Air flight 801, a Boeing 747-3b5b (747-300), Korean registration HL7468, operated by Korean Air Company, Ltd., crashed at Nimitz Hill, Guam. Flight 801 departed from Kimpo International Airport, Seoul, Korea, with 2 pilots, 1 flight engineer, 14 flight attendants, and 237 passengers on board. The airplane had been cleared to land on runway 6l at A.B. Won Guam International Airport, Agana, Guam, and crashed into high terrain about 3 miles southwest of the airport. Of the 254 persons on board, 228 were killed, and 23 passengers and 3 flight attendants survived the accident with serious injuries. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postcrash fire. Flight 801 was operating in U.S. airspace as a regularly scheduled international passenger service flight under the convention on international civil aviation and the provisions of 14 code of federal regulations (CFR) part 129 and was on an instrument flight rules flight plan.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Consider designating Guam International Airport as a special airport requiring special pilot qualifications.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Aviation
Location: NIMITZ HILL, GU, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA97MA058
Accident Reports: Controlled Flight Into Terrain, Korean Air Flight 801, Boeing 747-300, HL7468
Report #: AAR-00-01
Accident Date: 8/6/1997
Issue Date: 1/27/2000
Date Closed: 2/7/2005
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FAA (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s): Special Airport

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 2/7/2005
Response: On April 15, 2004, the FAA completed an evaluation of the Guam airport using the Airport Assessment Aid for Determining Special Pilot in Command Qualification Airport Designation. The result of the FAA's evaluation was that Guam should not be designated as a special airport. The Safety Board disagrees with this result. The Board notes that on December 17, 2002, Philippine Airlines flight 110, an Airbus A330, prematurely descended and struck power lines located on a 35-foot pole at the top of Nimitz Hill while executing an instrument landing system (ILS) approach to runway 6L at Guam International Airport. Both the flight 801 accident and the flight 110 incident involved similar issues related to the ILS approach to runway 6L and the proximity of high terrain to the final approach course. The Board believes these issues should have been more carefully considered in the FAA's evaluation. In Safety Recommendation A-97-92, currently classified "Open--Unacceptable Response," the Safety Board recommended that the FAA develop and publish specific criteria for the classification of special airports. The Board believes the FAA's finding regarding the Guam airport illustrates that the FAA's criteria for such designations are not sufficiently detailed and specific. However, although the Board disagrees with the FAA's finding, the FAA has completed the recommended action of considering designating the Guam airport as a special airport. Therefore, Safety Recommendation A-00-8 is classified "Closed--Acceptable Action."

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 7/1/2003
Response: In an April 4, 2000, response letter, the FAA stated that it was revising Advisory Circular (AC) 121.445-1D, "Pilot-in-Command Qualifications for Special Areas/Routes and Airports," and that it would assess Guam International Airport's qualifications for becoming a special airport upon completion of the criteria for qualification that would be contained in the revised AC. On the basis of the FAA's response, the Safety Board classified Safety Recommendation A-00-8 "Open--Acceptable Response." In an August 21, 2001, letter, the FAA reported that the revision to AC 121.445-1D was still in progress but that it expected the revised AC to be published for comment in September 2001 following an assessment of the revision required by the Paperwork Reduction Act. In a January 23, 2002, response letter, the Board noted the FAA's status report, and Safety Recommendation A-00-8 remained classified "Open--Acceptable Response." The Board has received no further correspondence from the FAA regarding its progress revising AC 121.445-1D or classifying Guam International Airport as a special airport. On December 17, 2002, Philippine Airlines flight 110, an Airbus A330, prematurely descended and struck power lines located on a 35-foot pole at the top of Nimitz Hill while executing an ILS approach to runway 6L at Guam International Airport. Although this incident is currently under investigation, the Safety Board's initial evaluation has determined that both the flight 801 accident and the flight 110 incident most likely involved similar issues related to the ILS approach to runway 6L and the proximity of high terrain to the final approach course at Guam International Airport. The Safety Board is concerned that it has been nearly 3 years since Safety Recommendation A-00-8 was issued, and the FAA has not completed the actions needed to classify Guam International as a special airport. The Board believes that the recent incident involving flight 110 reinforces the need to provide pilots operating at this airport with enhanced training regarding the terrain and obstructions in the area and the necessity of closely adhering to published instrument approach procedures, which would occur if Guam International were designated a special airport. The Safety Board requests an update on the FAA's progress regarding this recommendation.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 1/23/2002
Response: Pending completion of the recommended action, Safety Recommendation A-00-8 remains classified "Open-Acceptable Response."

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 8/21/2001
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 08/29/2001 4:02:04 PM MC# 2010694: The FAA is revising AC 121.445-1D, Pilot In-Command Qualifications for Special Areas/Routes and Airports. The revision includes a process for determining special airports. The process begins with an assessment of the airport to determine the qualification status. If the airport meets the qualifications, it is added to Appendix 1 of the AC. An assessment of the Guam International Airport's qualifications for a special airport will be made once the AC is issued. During the coordination process of the revised AC, it was determined that an assessment should be conducted in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act because of the introduction of an automated data collection process. The FAA anticipates completing the assessment and publishing the AC for comment by September 2001. I will keep the Board informed of the FAA's progress on this safety recommendation.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 6/27/2000
Response: PENDING PUBLICATION OF THE REVISED AC AND THE SUBSEQUENT ASSESSMENT OF GUAM INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT'S QUALIFICATIONS FOR A SPECIAL AIRPORT DESIGNATION, A-00-8 IS CLASSIFIED "OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE."

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 4/4/2000
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 04/07/2000 2:43:03 PM MC# 2000502 THE FAA IS CURRENTLY REVISING ADVISORY CIRCULAR (AC) 121.445-1D, PILOT IN-COMMAND QUALIFICATIONS FOR SPECIAL AREAS/ROUTES AND AIRPORTS. THE REVISION INCLUDES A PROCESS FOR DETERMINING SPECIAL AIRPORTS. THE PROCESS BEGINS WITH AN ASSESSMENT OF THE AIRPORT IN QUESTION BY AN INITIATOR. THE ASSESSMENT IS THEN REVIEWED AND ANALYZED BY THE FAA'S FLIGHT STANDARDS AIR TRANSPORTATION DIVISION, WHICH MAKES THE DETERMINATION RELATIVE TO THE QUALIFICATION STATUS. IF THE AIRPORT MEETS THE QUALIFICATIONS, IT IS ADDED TO APPENDIX 1 OF THE AC. AN ASSESSMENT OF THE GUAM INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT'S QUALIFICATIONS FOR A SPECIAL AIRPORT WILL BE MADE ONCE THE AC IS ISSUED. I WILL KEEP THE BOARD INFORMED OF THE FAA'S PROGRESS ON THIS RECOMMENDATION.