2006-05-26 / Community

A 'Tail' Of Two Aircraft

By Howard Schwach


The tail structure of American Airlines Flight 587, an Airbus A300, is pulled form Jamaica Bay on November 12, 2001. 
The tail structure of American Airlines Flight 587, an Airbus A300, is pulled form Jamaica Bay on November 12, 2001. Anyone who has lived in Rockaway for more than five years is familiar with the photograph of a U.S. Corps of Engineers barge gingerly plucking the tail that was once attached to the Airbus A300-600 aircraft that was designated as American Airlines Flight 587 from Jamaica Bay and placing it nearby the water treatment plant on Beach Channel Drive and Beach 108 Street.

Three years after the accident, the National Transportation Safety Board ruled that the tail came off the plane, causing the crash into Belle Harbor that killed all 260 people on the plane and five on the ground, because the first office used the rudder inputs too aggressively in response to a wake turbulence incident.

There have been several other incidents involving the tail and rudder structures of Airbus A300 series aircraft since then and maintenance workers recently found that hydraulic fluid disbands the material that holds the tail together.

In early May, an Airbus A320, with the same exact composite tail as the A300 that crashed in Belle Harbor, came down just short of landing in southern Russia. The tail of the Armenian A320 was found in the Black Sea, nearby where the crash occurred.

Armenian officials have blamed "pilot error" for the crash.

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