2004-03-05 / Front Page

NTSB Sets Final AA 587 Report For Coming Summer

By Howard Schwach
NTSB Sets Final AA 587 Report For Coming Summer By Howard Schwach

Although the American Airlines Airbus A300-600 known as AA Flight 587 crashed in Belle Harbor nearly 28 months ago, controversy about the crash and its aftermath continue unabated.

The controversy that hits closest to home is the question of where a permanent Rockaway memorial to the 285 people who died in the crash should be placed. There have been a series of ongoing negotiations between local officials and family members as well as secret and not-so-secret meetings between city officials and both local residents and families of those who were on the Dominican Republic-bound plane.

That is a Rockaway story, not of much interest to those who live off the peninsula and to those who did not have a friend or relative on the plane.

There are more global issues at work, however, including the question of why the plane crashed in Belle Har bor on November 12, 2001 and especially who should bear the financial responsibility for those who died in the crash as well as those who lost their homes.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently issued its ele venth update on the crash.

That update says, "The Safety Board expects to deliberate over a final accident report in a public meeting in Wash ington, D.C. this summer."

That report, experts say, will most likely find that the aircraft’s First Officer, Sten Molin, was responsible for the crash by over-controlling the rudder when involved in a wake turbulence event.

According to the NTSB Update, the agency has completed most of its testing, including structural tests on the lug sub-components, the hardware that connects the tail to the plane, a final examination of the A300 aircraft systems, including the design of the plane’s rudder limiter system and a review of American Airlines and Air bus operational documentation.

At the same time, both American Airlines and Airbus have filed papers with the NTSB blaming the other for causing the crash.

American blamed the crash on the jet’s flight control system, while Airbus blamed the crash on pilot error, stating that Molin, who was flying the plane, was improperly trained by the airline.

In its papers, American said that the design of the Airbus flight system included "an unexpectedly sensitive" rudder, which caused Molin to lose control shortly after taking off.

Airbus, in its papers, blamed the crash on "aggressive rudder training by American Airlines."

Many local residents, however, continue to argue that they saw the plane in the air and that it was on fire and breaking up long before the crash on Beach 131 Street and Newport Ave nue.

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