2004-10-29 / Community

Weiner: FAA Shoulders Some Blame For AA 587

Last Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a report blaming the crash of Flight 587 on the first officer, Airbus and American Airlines—but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) did not come under similar criticism.  

Representative Anthony Weiner, a member of the House Aviation Subcommittee, reacted with harsh criticism for the NTSB.

“It is mind-boggling that the FAA attended a meeting in 1997 with American Airlines and Airbus, in which they talked about the same rudder problems experienced by Flight 587, on the same kind of plane as Flight 587, and thereafter too absolutely no action to improve training or improve design or improve oversight. 

“In fact, during four years of finger pointing and back and forth between American Airlines and Airbus, most of which foreshadowed what we are hearing today, the FAA stood by and did nothing.

“The NTSB can cast blame on American Airlines and Airbus, but truth be told, the first thing the NTSB should do is call out their colleagues at the Federal Aviation Administration.

“The FAA failed their oversight responsibilities miserably, with tragic results.”

On November 12, 2001, American Airlines Flight 587, crashed in Rockaway, Queens shortly after take off from Kennedy Airport.  All 260 passengers and five Rockaway residents on the ground were killed.According to investigators, immediately after take off Flight 587 encountered wake turbulence, causing the pilot to begin losing control of his craft.  As a corrective measure, he started working the plane’s rudder (located on the tail fin) back and forth.  The force created by the back and forth motion of the rudder caused the tail to sustain sufficient “load” (or pressure) to snap clean off the plane.  As a result, the plane, an Airbus 300-600, plunged to the ground below. In  May of 1997, American Airlines Flight 903, another A 300-600, encountered turbulence, and the pilot vigorously moved the rudder back and forth, causing tremendous pressure on the tail fin, and causing it to almost snap off in flight.

In a letter from Airbus to American Airlines dated August 20 1998, Airbus informed American Airlines of its concerns regarding the improper use of the A 300-600 rudder.  The letter was cosigned by an FAA administrator.

American Airlines says the letter was too vague to constitute adequate notice of the dangers.

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