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Accident Report Detail

Derailment of AirTrain

Executive Summary

At about 12:25 p.m., on September 27, 2002, AirTrain-JFK light rail transit test train No. 121 derailed in a curve on the aerial guideway that runs between the Howard Beach station and the Federal Circle station near JFK International Airport in Jamaica, New York. At the time of the accident, AirTrain No. 121, with three cars and no occupants except the train operator, was participating in a power distribution system test under the authority of the transit system's testing and commissioning supervisor (test supervisor). When the train derailed, large concrete slabs that had been placed in the lead car for added weight shifted and pinned the train operator against the operator's console, severely injuring him. He was transported to a local hospital where he died at 3:05 p.m. on September 27, 2002.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the derailment of AirTrain No. 121 was the failure of the train operator, for undetermined reasons, to keep his train below maximum authorized speed and to stop his train at the location specified in the design of the test in which he was participating and the failure of Bombardier Total Transit Systems to take the actions necessary to ensure that the test trains were operated in accordance with the test protocols. Contributing to the severity of the accident was the failure to properly secure the load that had been added to the first car of the accident train.

Accident Location: Jamaica , NY   JFK Airport
Accident Date: 9/27/2002
Accident ID: DCA02FR014

Date Adopted: 9/17/2003
NTSB Number: RAB-03-06
NTIS Number:  

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