Transcribed from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh, PA, January 16, 1963, p. 2:

CAB Blames Tweezers for 95-Death Crash

Finds Improper Use on Control Wires Caused Dec. Jet Plunge in Jamaica Bay


WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 (AP) — The Civil Aeronautics Board blames a short circuit caused by improper use of tweezers in tying up control wires for the crash of an American Airlines jet in Jamaica Bay, N.Y., last march.

In a report released today the CAB cited this as the “most likely abnormality” that sent the 707 jet on a plunge that killed 95 persons shortly after takeoff from Idlewild International Airport.

The wires involved are part of the automatic pilot system leading to the rudder boost control mechanism called the rudder Servo.


Inspectors of the Federal aviation agency traced the cause to the use of the tweezers in binding the wires, the CAB said, and backed up this conclusion by finding similarly damaged units in the manufacturer’s production line.

The Bendix Corporation denied the unit was defective, Nile F. McCammon, general manager of Bendix’ Eclipse-Pioneer Division which makes the unit at Teterboro, N. J., said the Servo involved passed 61 different inspections at the factory, more during installation, and was overhauled and inspected regularly.

He said:

“Both the sleeving, as it is called, and the wiring must be inspected, and if they are damaged in any way they must be replaced . . . it is certain that the cut . . . had it then existed, would have been noticed and corrected . . .”


McCammon also said American Airlines had inspected and overhauled the Servo unit on the plane involved three times prior to the crash.

The FAA ordered inspection of all generator motors on Eclipse-Pioneer Model TR-20D automatic flight control systems after the difficulty was discovered.

Despite the CAB conclusion, the report conceded that an FAA theory made public last June–that a small bolt may have dropped out of the automatic control system–could have caused the crash.