The Crash of American Airlines

A good example involving with human error is the crash of the American Airlines flight 587. On 12 November 2001, at approximately 9:17 a. m. ocal time, American Airlines flight 587 crashed into the Belle Harbor area of Queens, New York, several minutes after taking off from JFK International Airport. The plane was on a scheduled flight to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. All nine crew members and 251 passengers on the aircraft were killed, including five infants. Five people on the ground were also killed. Let examine the summary of events that the NTSB determined led to the crash in order to identify the probable causes. “The A300-600, took off just minutes after the Japan Airlines Boeing 747 on the same runway, flew into the larger jet’s wake, an area of very turbulent air.

The first officer attempted to keep the plane upright with aggressive rudder inputs. The strength of the air flowing against the moving rudder stressed the aircraft’s vertical stabilizer and eventually snapped it off entirely, causing the aircraft to lose control and crash. The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the enormous stress on the rudder was due to the first officer’s unnecessary and excessive rudder inputs, and not the wake caused by the earlier Japan Airlines 747 that had crossed that area.

Airbus charges that the crash was mostly American’s fault, because the airline did not train its pilots properly about the characteristics of the rudder. Aircraft tail fins are designed to withstand full rudder deflection in one direction at maneuvering speed. They are not usually designed to withstand an abrupt shift in rudder from one direction to the other. Most American pilots believed that the tail fin could withstand any rudder movement at maneuvering speed. The NTSB indicated that American Airlines’ Advanced Aircraft Maneuvering Program tended to exaggerate the effects of wake turbulence on large aircraft.

Therefore, pilots were being trained to react more aggressively than was necessary. ” (Mysterious Crash) Since the investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, American Airlines has modified its pilot training program. Training methods have been reviewed and changed as a result of the accident. Despite rapid gains in technology, humans are ultimately responsible for ensuring the success and safety of the aviation industry. They must continue to be knowledgeable, flexible, dedicated, and efficient while exercising good judgment.