ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 747-121 N747PA San Francisco International Airport, CA (SFO)
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Status:Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Date:Friday 30 July 1971
Type:Silhouette image of generic B741 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing 747-121
Operator:Pan American World Airways (Pan Am)
Registration: N747PA
MSN: 19639/2
First flight: 1969-04-11 (2 years 4 months)
Total airframe hrs:2898
Engines: 4 Pratt & Whitney JT9D-3A
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 19
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 199
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 218
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Aircraft fate: Repaired
Location:San Francisco International Airport, CA (SFO) (   United States of America)
Phase: Takeoff (TOF)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:San Francisco International Airport, CA (SFO/KSFO), United States of America
Destination airport:Tokyo (unknown airport), Japan
The Pan American Boeing 747 struck the Approach Light Structure (ALS) at the departure end of runway 01R while taking off from the San Francisco International Airport. Two passengers, in seats 47G and 48G, were seriously injured by parts of the Approach Light System structure which penetrated the
passenger compartment. The flightcrew continued the takeoff and then flew the aircraft for 1 hour and 42 minutes while assessing the structural damage and dumping fuel before landing on runway 28L. After landing, the aircraft veered off the right side of runway 28L and came to a stop in the unpaved area approximately 5,300 feet from the approach end of the runway. The passengers and crew evacuated the aircraft using the emergency evacuation slides.
Upon activation of the slides for evacuation, four of the 10 passenger slides failed to function properly and were not useable. During the evacuation the aircraft tilted slowly back onto the rear section of the fuselage.
The aircraft had been dispatched for a departure from a closed runway and, upon changing to an open runway, the crew did not recompute the proper reference speeds for takeoff under the existing conditions.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the pilot’s use of incorrect takeoff
reference speeds. This resulted from a series of irregularities involving: (1) the collection and dissemination of airport information; (2) aircraft dispatching; and (3) crew management and discipline; which collectively rendered ineffective the air carrier’s operational control system."

Accident investigation:

Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 299 days (10 months)
Accident number: NTSB-AAR-72-17
Download report: Final report

Collision with approach or runway lights
Forced landing on runway

» NTSB AAR-72-17

Follow-up / safety actions

NTSB issued 9 Safety Recommendations

Show all...


photo of Boeing-747-121-N747PA
accident date: 30-07-1971
type: Boeing 747-121
registration: N747PA
photo of Boeing-747-121-N747PA
This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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