2004-10-01 / Community

NTSB Final Report On AA 587 Set For 10/26

By Howard Schwach

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will meet in

Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, October 26, to consider a final report on its investigation into the crash of American Airlines flight 587. 

The meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. and is expected to last most of the day.

American Airlines Flight 587, an Airbus A 300-600, crashed into Newport Avenue and Beach 131 Street, Belle Harbor, killing all 260 people on the plane and five local residents on the ground. The plane was bound for the Dominican Republic It is the second most deadly aircraft accident in American history.

The Board will be meeting in open session with its investigators as it deliberates over the draft report under

provisions of the Government in the Sunshine Act.  The public is invited to observe the proceedings; there is no public participation in the meeting.  At the end of the meeting, the Board is expected to adopt the report, as edited during the meeting, which will include conclusions, a probable cause and safety recommendations. 

Many locals, who observed the plane in the air prior to its crash have reported fire and smoke on the fuselage of the plane. NTSB investigators have said since the first day, however, that the crash was an accident.

More than 70 percent of the victim’s families have settled with American Airlines and Airbus, according to lawyers involved in the negotiations. Others are reportedly waiting for the NTSB’s final report before making settlements.

The NTSB, in its interim reports, has said that First Officer Sten Molin, who was flying the departure that day, encountered wake turbulence from a Japan Airlines heavy and over-controlled the rudder so that the tail departed from the plane.

American Airlines continues to blame the rudder problem on Airbus Industries, while the plane’s builder blames American Airlines for its training program.

That argument is beginning to turn nasty, as evidenced by a New York Times article on Tuesday.

Bruce Hicks, a spokesperson for American Airlines, told NY Times writer Matthew Wald, “Airbus alone had the knowledge about the sensitivity of the [rudder] system, and most importantly, the grave risk of what happens if you reverse the rudder on this airplane and the propensity of this airplane for that to happen. Had they shared that knowledge with the NTSB and the operators, including American, Flight 587’s accident would not have happened, and 265 people would not have died.”

Clay McConnell, a vice president for Airbus Industries, however, told Wald, “If the pilot was not trained well enough to be familiar with the rudder control forces on that airplane, we should ask who did that training.”

Recent reports from Canada and Germany, however, may point in a completely different direction.

The Canadian report says that a terrorist shoe bomber may have brought the plane down, while reports from Germany indicate that Airbus may have falsified test results that showed that rudder could withstand heavy forces from another aircraft.

The NTSB report will likely not address those new components.

The meeting will be held at the NTSB’s Board Room and Conference Center, 429 L’Enfant Plaza, S.W., Washington, D.C.  The meeting will be web cast, which can be accessed on the home page of the Board’s website at www.ntsb.gov .

In addition to the web cast, a videotape of the proceedings may be purchased for $20 from the Board’s

contractor, General Microfilm, at (301) 929-8888.  To minimize disruption for all attendees, members of the

audience may not take still or video photography during the proceedings.

A press release and summary of the Board’s conclusions, statement of probable cause and safety

recommendations will be posted on the Board’s website shortly after the conclusion of the meeting.  The full

report will appear on the website several weeks after the meeting.

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