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General Aviation Safety
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 (CFR) Part 121 on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan.
TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: For all 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121 and 135 operators, require the use of automatic brakes, if available and operative, for landings during wet, slippery, or high crosswind conditions, and verify that these operators include this procedure in their flight manuals, checklists, and training programs.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action
LITTLE ROCK, AR, United States
Runway Overrun During Landing, American Airlines Flight 1420, McDonnell Douglas MD-82
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FAA (Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action)
Checklist, Flightcrew, Training and Education
Safety Recommendation History
The Safety Board notes that on June 21, 2004, the FAA issued Notice N8400.68, "Use of Autobrakes for Landings in Adverse Conditions." The notice, written for principal operations inspectors (POIs), recommends the use of autobrakes for landings in adverse conditions caused by weather (for example, a wet or slippery runway or high crosswind) and directs POIs to convey the information in the notice to their respective certificate holders. Issuance of this notice meets the intent of the recommendation in an acceptable alternate manner; accordingly, Safety Recommendation A-01-54 is classified "Closed--Acceptable Alternate Action."
SWAT Meeting: The FAA indicated that it was concerned with overly prescriptive regulations concerning operational procedures, and the FAA believes that the operators should follow the manufacturer’s recommended procedures. The Safety Board indicated that manufacturers who install autobrakes on their aircraft recommend their use, but many operators revise this procedure to save on wear on brakes. The Board is concerned about use of autobrakes during landings in wet, slippery, or high crosswind conditions, not for all landings. The FAA said it could put out a Notice strongly recommending that manufacturer’s guidelines regarding the use of autobrakes be followed in these conditions. If there are no manufacturer’s recommendations, the FAA could strongly recommend its use in these conditions. Results The FAA will put out a Notice strongly recommending that manufacturer’s guidelines regarding use of autobrakes be followed in these conditions. If there are no manufacturer’s recommendations, the FAA will strongly recommend use of autobrakes in these conditions. The FAA staff will provide draft notice to NTSB staff for review/comment. After the Notice is issued, A-01-54 will be classified "Closed-Acceptable Action."
The Safety Board disagrees with the FAA's position and continues to believe that autobrake systems should be used in wet, slippery, or high crosswind conditions. In the American Airlines accident that prompted this recommendation, the pilot's judgment did not lead him to use autobrakes, even though he was attempting to land on a wet runway in a high crosswind condition. The pilot then encountered a situation requiring maximum braking and significant rudder inputs to maintain directional control of the aircraft on the runway. Because pilot inputs for both the brake and rudder are made with the rudder pedals, it was difficult to provide both inputs. Use of autobrakes would have allowed the pilot to concentrate on directional control. The Board asks the FAA to reconsider its position on this recommendation. Pending the FAA's reconsideration, Safety Recommendation A-01-54 is classified "Open--Unacceptable Response."
Letter Mail Controlled 02/21/2002 7:49:04 PM MC# 2020178 The FAA does not believe that this procedure should be mandated. Appropriate use of autobrakes does not apply identically among all airplane types and models, and among all autobrake systems. Specific operating procedures regarding aircraft systems like autobrakes are established by the manufacturers and the FAA during the certification of each airplane type and model. Further, the FAA believes that the use of autobrakes in wet, slippery, or high crosswind conditions should be left to the pilot's judgment and not mandated by the FAA regardless of the circumstances.
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