Accident description
Last updated: 17 April 2014
Status:Final
Date:Monday 12 November 2001
Time:09:16
Type:Silhouette image of generic A306 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Airbus A300B4-605R
Operator:American Airlines
Registration: N14053
C/n / msn: 420
First flight: 1987-12-09 (13 years 11 months)
Total airframe hrs:37550
Cycles:14934
Engines: 2 General Electric CF6-80C2A5
Crew:Fatalities: 9 / Occupants: 9
Passengers:Fatalities: 251 / Occupants: 251
Total:Fatalities: 260 / Occupants: 260
Ground casualties:Fatalities: 5
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Belle Harbor, NY (   United States of America) show on map
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:New York-John F. Kennedy International Airport, NY (JFK/KJFK), United States of America
Destination airport:Santo Domingo-Las Américas José Francisco Peña Gómez Int'l Airport (SDQ/MDSD), Dominican Republic
Flightnumber: 587
Narrative:
American Airlines Flight 587 was scheduled to leave New York-JFK at 08:00 for a flight to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The boarding process at gate 22 took a little longer than planned due to additional security procedures that delayed boarding. The gate was closed at 08:38 and pushback from the gate was accomplished at 09:00. The crew taxied to runway 31L behind Japan Air Lines Flight 047, a Boeing 747-400 bound for Tokyo-Narita. JL047 was cleared for takeoff at 09:11:08 but started it's takeoff roll one minute later. While JL047 was still preparing for takeoff, the tower controller called AA587, cautioned the flight crew about wake turbulence and instructed them to taxi into position and hold on runway 31L: "American five eighty seven heavy Kennedy tower, caution wake turbulence runway three one left, taxi into position and hold". A little later the JAL Boeing 747 rotated and initiated a climbing left turn over Jamaica Bay (the "bridge departure").
Then, at 09:13:27 Flight 587 was cleared for takeoff: "American five eight seven heavy, wind three zero zero at niner, runway three one left, cleared for takeoff". Takeoff roll was initiated about 09:14, circa 1 minutes and 45 seconds following the 747. After leaving the ground the landing gear was retracted at 09:14:34. The tower controller then cleared the crew for the bridge departure: "American five eight seven heavy, turn left. fly the Bridge Climb. Contact New York departure. Good morning." Flight 587 contacted the ARTCC controller about 09:15, and stated they were climbing out of 1,300 feet for 5,000 feet. The controller responded by clearing the flight to climb to 13,000 feet, turn left, and proceed direct to WAVEY. At that moment, while in a climbing left turn, the crew heard a brief squeak and a rattling sound, possibly caused by wake turbulence. Some fifteen seconds later the Airbus began to yaw to the right. Full right and left rudder were applied and the first officer called for "max power" at 09:15:54. Again full right and left rudder were applied and sounds of a snap, a thump and a loud bang were heard when the rudder travelled full right again. The entire vertical tail fin had separated and the Airbus entered an uncontrolled descent from an altitude of about 2500 feet. During this descent both engines separated from the wings coming down within 100 feet of each other near the Newport Avenue / Beach 129th Street crossroads. The aircraft crashed into Beach 131 Street, a Queens residential area.


PROBABLE CAUSE: "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 A300-600 rudder system design and elements of the American Airlines Advanced Aircraft Maneuvering Program. "

Events:



Sources:
» NTSB

Official accident investigation report
investigating agency: National Transport Safety Bureau (NTSB) - USA
report status: Final
report number: NTSB AAR-04-04
report released:26-OCT-2004
duration of investigation:1079 days (2 years 11.6 months)
download report: In-Flight Separation of Vertical Stabilizer American Airlines Flight 587, Airbus Industrie A300-605R, N14053, Belle Harbor, New York November 12, 2001 (NTSB AAR-04-04)

Follow-up / safety actions
American Airlines carried out sample inspections among its remaining 34 Airbus A300s to ensure there are no problems with other tail assemblies.
On February 8, 2002, the NTSB in cooperation with the BEA issued two safety recommendations (A-02-01 and A-02-02) that aircraft manufacturers re-emphasize the structural certification requirements for the rudder and vertical stabilizer, showing how some maneuvers can result in exceeding design limits and even lead to structural failure.
As a result of these safety recommendations, Airbus Issued an FCOM bulletin dated March 2002 and American Airlines issued a Flight Operations Technical Bulletin addressing the same issues.

NTSB issued 15 Safety Recommendations

Show all AD's and Safety Recommendations

Photos

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Map
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from New York-John F. Kennedy International Airport, NY to Santo Domingo-Las Américas José Francisco Peña Gómez Int'l Airport as the crow flies is 2483 km (1552 miles).

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Airbus A300

  • 22nd loss
  • 561 built
  • 2nd worst accident
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 United States of America
  • 4th worst accident
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