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Accident Report Detail

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

Executive Summary

​On November 12, 2001, about 0916:15 eastern standard time, American Airlines flight 587, an Airbus Industrie A300-605R, N14053, crashed into a residential area of Belle Harbor, New York, shortly after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport, Jamaica, New York. Flight 587 was a regularly scheduled passenger flight to Las Americas International Airport, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, with 2 flight crewmembers, 7 flight attendants, and 251 passengers aboard the airplane. The airplane’s vertical stabilizer and rudder separated in flight and were found in Jamaica Bay, about 1 mile north of the main wreckage site. The airplane’s engines subsequently separated in flight and were found several blocks north and east of the main wreckage site. All 260 people aboard the airplane and 5 people on the ground were killed, and the airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postcrash fire. Flight 587 was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121 on an instrument flight rules flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.

The safety issues discussed in this report focus on characteristics of the A300-600 rudder control system design, A300-600 rudder pedal inputs at high airspeeds, aircraft-pilot coupling, flight operations at or below an airplane’s design maneuvering speed, and upset recovery training programs. Safety recommendations concerning these issues are addressed to the Federal Aviation Administration and the Direction Général de l’Aviation Civile.


Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the in-flight separation of the vertical stabilizer as a result of the loads beyond ultimate design that were created by the first officer’s unnecessary and excessive rudder pedal inputs. Contributing to these rudder pedal inputs were characteristics of the Airbus A300-600 rudder system design and elements of the American Airlines Advanced Aircraft Maneuvering Program.


Accident Location: Belle Harbor , NY    
Accident Date: 11/12/2001
Accident ID: DCA02MA001

Date Adopted: 10/26/2004
NTSB Number: AAR-04-04
NTIS Number: PB2004-910404

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