The crew of Delta Air Lines Flight 191 did not have the latest weather information as the plane approached Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport last Friday and crashed in a thunderstorm, investigators said yesterday.
Rudolf Kapustin, the National Transportation Safety Board's investigator in charge, said that the National Weather Service observer informed the Federal Aviation Administration's air traffic control tower of "cumulonimbus clouds north of the airport" at 5:52 p.m. CDT, 14 minutes before the crash.
That information was not relayed to the cockpit.
At least 130 people died in the accident.
Cumulonimbus clouds, Kapustin said, "usually develop into thunderstorms." But he said it is "speculative whether" transmission of that information would have made a difference in the crew's decision to attempt a landing from the north in what seemed to be only a shower.
FAA procedures for air traffic towers require that weather information be updated and broadcast if there are changes in official observations, including "other pertinent remarks" in the forecasters' report.
The existence of cumulonimbus clouds was reported in written Weather Service "remarks" sent to the tower, Kapustin said.
Pilot groups and aviation safety specialists have long been critical of the time it takes pertinent weather information to reach the cockpit.