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Accident Report Detail

 
Runway Overrun During Landing, American Airlines Flight 1420, McDonnell Douglas MD-82

Executive Summary

​On June 1, 1999, at 2350:44 central daylight time, American Airlines flight 1420, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-82 (MD-82), N215AA, crashed after it overran the end of runway 4R during landing at Little Rock National Airport in Little Rock, Arkansas. Flight 1420 departed from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Texas, about 2240 with 2 flight crewmembers, 4 flight attendants, and 139 passengers aboard and touched down in Little Rock at 2350:20. After departing the end of the runway, the airplane struck several tubes extending outward from the left edge of the instrument landing system localizer array, located 411 feet beyond the end of the runway; passed through a chain link security fence and over a rock embankment to a flood plain, located approximately 15 feet below the runway elevation; and collided with the structure supporting the runway 22L approach lighting system. The captain and 10 passengers were killed; the first officer, the flight attendants, and 105 passengers received serious or minor injuries; and 24 passengers were not injured. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postcrash fire. Flight 1420 was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121 on an instrument flight rules flight plan.

The safety issues in this report focus on flight crew performance, flight crew decision-making regarding operations in adverse weather, pilot fatigue, weather information dissemination, emergency response, frangibility of airport structures, and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversight. Safety recommendations concerning these issues are addressed to the FAA and the National Weather Service.


Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable causes of this accident were the flight crew’s failure to discontinue the approach when severe thunderstorms and their associated hazards to flight operations had moved into the airport area and the crew’s failure to ensure that the spoilers had extended after touchdown.

Contributing to the accident were the flight crew’s (1) impaired performance resulting from fatigue and the situational stress associated with the intent to land under the circumstances, (2) continuation of the approach to a landing when the company’s maximum crosswind component was exceeded, and (3) use of reverse thrust greater than 1.3 engine pressure ratio after landing.


Accident Location: Little Rock , AR    
Accident Date: 6/1/1999
Accident ID: DCA99MA060

Date Adopted: 10/23/2001
NTSB Number: AAR-01-02
NTIS Number: PB2001-910402