Board Meeting Animations - In-Flight Separation of Vertical Stabilizer American Airlines Flight 587 Airbus Industrie A300-605R, N14053

October 26, 2004

Belle Harbor, New York
November 12, 2001

Animations and Videos

Animations and videos were presented at the Board Meeting on October 26, 2004 in Washington, D.C.

Disclaimer: Simulations presented below used scene surveys, vehicle and scene testing, vehicle operating characteristics, pictures and witness statements. The depictions do not represent actual lighting and weather conditions at the time of the accident.

Toll Booth View Toll Booth Video [3.75 MB]
 [Windows Media Format - requires Media Player]

(enlarge image)

This is a collection of video recordings captured by a security system that was operated by the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority in New York, New York. This video contains views from two separate cameras located at the northwest end of the Marine Parkway Bridge. Each view is shown twice: once with a white circle added to the video to highlight the position of the airplane, and a second time without the white circle.

  • In the first view, the airplane can be seen as a small dot moving from left to right across the screen.
  • In the second view, as the airplane moves downward, a streak can be seen trailing behind it during a portion of this view.

This video does not include sound.

Flight Path Animation Flight Path Animation [4.95 MB]
 [Windows Media Format - requires Media Player]

(enlarge image)

This three-dimensional animated accident reconstruction shows most of the flight for American Airlines flight 587, which crashed shortly after takeoff from JFK International airport on November 12, 2001. The reconstruction exhibits information selected from the flight data recorder, excerpts from the cockpit voice recorder transcript, recorded radar data, and aircraft performance data. This reconstruction does not depict the weather or visibility conditions at the time of the accident.

The animation shows a three-dimensional model of the airplane and its motion in the upper portion of the view. Selected comments from the cockpit voice recorder transcript or other annotations are superimposed as text in this area at the time they occurred.

The lower portion of the view depicts a set of instruments and indicators, which display selected parameters from the flight data recorder. From left to right these are:

  • Attitude indicator showing pitch and roll attitude, control wheel/column icon depicting the control wheel (rotating right or left) and control column (moving up or down) inputs, and an indicator showing vertical acceleration.
  • The next box to the right depicts the data from the rudder pedal, rudder control surface, and the lateral acceleration parameters.
  • The last box shows a representation of the tail section as viewed from above and depicts the rudder control surface position relative to the vertical stabilizer. The red bars on the rudder pedal, rudder surface, and tail section indicators represent the relative position of the rudder limiting system. Additionally, the time of day (based on the FAA's Air Traffic Control clock), altitude in feet, and airspeed in knots are depicted as text.

The animation starts with the airplane on the ground, taxiing to runway 31L. It shows the airplane's taxi, takeoff, climbout, and initial turn to the left. The rudder parameters are blanked out at the time the tail section separates from the airplane. The screen turns black at the point in time when the flight data recorder information ends (only cockpit voice recorder text or annotations are shown after this point).

This animation does not include sound.

Simulator Training Exercise Simulator Training Exercise [853 KB]
 [Windows Media Format - requires Media Player]

(enlarge image)

This video is a Safety Board recreation of a typical rolling event given to pilots during upset recovery training in a simulator at the American Airlines Training Academy. The event is introduced as a wake turbulence scenario and begins with the instructor stating that the pilot is following a heavy transport-category airplane (such as a Boeing 747). An advisory, "caution wake turbulence," is issued. A few seconds later, the airplane begins the rolling maneuver: 10 degrees in one direction followed by a roll of more than 90 degrees in the opposite direction.

The purpose of the event was to train pilots how to recover from an over-banked airplane.

This animation does not include sound.

Wake Turbulence Encounter Wake Turbulence Encounter [2.17 MB]
 [Windows Media Format - requires Media Player]

(enlarge image)

This three-dimensional animation shows the cockpit rudder pedal, control wheel, and control column positions, as well as the first officer's leg movements, during the two wake turbulence encounters experienced by American Airlines flight 587. The first officer's legs and the cockpit controls were modeled based on a survey of the A300 cockpit geometry. The green regions under the rudder pedals depict the range of available pedal travel prior to contacting the pedal travel limits. Selected comments from the cockpit voice recorder transcript are also shown.

This animation is shown twice: the first time includes sound commentary, the second does not.