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  1. #1
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    Arrow News :: Co-pilot's actions after take off caused plane to crash over NY in Nov 2001.

    Article extract >> SOURCE : SKY NEWS ONLINE

    The co-pilot of an American Airlines plane caused the November 2001 crash that claimed the lives of 265 people, according to an official report.

    Investigator Robert Benzon of the National Transportation Safety Board said the co-pilot's response to turbulence, just seconds after the Airbus A300-600 plane took off from New York's John F Kennedy Airport, caused the disaster.


    Flight 587 crashed into the Rockaway disrtrict of Queens, New York, minutes after taking off into turbulence.

    First Officer Sten Molin, the co-pilot, moved the plane's rudder back and forth after take off trying to control the climbing aircraft, not realizing he was sealing the grim fate of those on board, the report said.

    Investigators believe Mr Molin's struggle with the rudder put huge strain on the plane's tail, causing it to break off.

    Airbus Industries, which manufactured the jetliner, and American Airlines, which trained Mr Molin, agree that if he had taken his foot off the rudder pedal, the tail wouldn't have broken off and the plane wouldn't have plunged into the New York City neighborhood.

    Why Mr Molin didn't know he was putting more pressure on the tail than it could bear is sure to be the subject of a bitter fight between Airbus and American Airlines.

    American claims Airbus didn't alert it to the danger of sharp rudder movements until after the crash.

    However, Airbus said it told American a number of times that the airline was improperly training pilots about how to use the rudder.

    End extract <<

    Full article, no link.

    Well we all know that at the time, because of recent events far worse things were feared to have brought down the aircraft but we now know with some certainty what actually happened.

    I've got one question though, nearly 3 years, that's an awfully long time to reach these conclusions isn't it, i don't know i maybe wrong but it feels that way to me.

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  2. #2
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    Re: News :: Co-pilot's actions after take off caused plane to crash over NY in Nov 2001.

    Originally posted by Critic
    [B]I've got one question though, nearly 3 years, that's an awfully long time to reach these conclusions isn't it, i don't know i maybe wrong but it feels that way to me.

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  3. #3
    There's something wrong with this. The flight crew should never be able to do anything that would seem like a reasonable movement that results in the plane breaking up.


    Can you really ever trust an aircraft if it could break up just by moving the rudder?

    Sure the pilots actions CAUSED the crash, but is it really the root cause?
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  4. #4
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    Funny how this surfaces right before 1 of the most important elections ever!!!!!!!

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  5. #5
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    Originally posted by elementip
    There's something wrong with this. The flight crew should never be able to do anything that would seem like a reasonable movement that results in the plane breaking up.


    Can you really ever trust an aircraft if it could break up just by moving the rudder?

    Sure the pilots actions CAUSED the crash, but is it really the root cause?
    Well according to the report, it wan't simply the fact that he moved the rudder but this combined with the turbulance after take off.

    The stresses put on the aircraft by these conditions must've been pretty intense to cause a break up i agree, it doesn't feature ina major way in the article but maybe the age of the aeroplane had something to do with it.

    I don't know if you can recall the crash but wasn't this the one where they found a whole jet engine relatively undamaged on the ground separated from the main site of debris?

    EDIT: The Dude, i really don't see how you can connect the dots and come up with that, i can't see any political gain for either side with the results of this report. I think you might be looking for something that just isn't there to be found.

    Critic,
    Last edited by Critic; 10-26-2004 at 05:35 PM.
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  6. #6
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    Originally posted by elementip
    There's something wrong with this. The flight crew should never be able to do anything that would seem like a reasonable movement that results in the plane breaking up.
    The thing is, it isn't a "reasonable movement" that they're talking about, or at least certainly not a routine movement. It's important to understand that the rudders are almost never used on a jetliner. They're not used in steering or in any routine maneuvering, the way they might be in flying a small plane -- generally the only time the rudder is used in flight on a jetliner is to counteract crosswinds to keep the plane lined up correctly just before touching down in a landing.

    It's also important to note that the A320 tail wasn't the "normal" aluminum; it's a fiber composite that was used to save weight. That's the main reason why warnings were apparently made about rudder use on this model that wouldn't apply to other airliners.

    I agree that it seems odd to think that the tail could be broken off an aircraft as a result of actions by a pilot, but in fact pilots do know that physical damage can be done to control surfaces as a result of aggressive use. This was certainly an extreme case, but there are plenty of things a pilot can do that are dangerous. They're supposed to be trained as to specifically what those are for a specific aircraft, and it appears that that didn't happen.
    Last edited by JayC; 10-26-2004 at 05:54 PM.
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  7. #7
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    Originally posted by elementip
    The flight crew should never be able to do anything that would seem like a reasonable movement that results in the plane breaking up.
    The problem is, modern jetliners (starting with the first Airbus, IIRC) use "fly-by-wire" as opposed to the direct hydraulic connections of older or smaller craft. Would the co-pilot have kept pressure on the pedal if it was fighting back aggressively against his input?

    You've probably experienced this effect yourself, if like me you live where the roads get slick from time to time. Until I bought my new pickup two years ago, I had never owned a vehicle with ABS brakes. I know how to correct a skid, but I worry about drivers who have never done without ABS.

    Their tendency is to feel comforted by the vibrations coming from the pedal, as they feel the computer is doing its job, without understanding that it really means they're applying too much braking pressure for the conditions.

    Before ABS, applying full force would make a vehicle slide, causing experienced drivers to lift their foot off the brake. Nowadays, people tend to leave their foot on the brake (some even press harder) and let the computer deal with it.

    It comes down to training. If you're ever in Steamboat Springs during ski season, be sure to take the ice driving school. They keep an icy racetrack lined with haybales, providing vehicles and instructors. You can use your own vehicle too, but theirs have switches to shut off the ABS.
    Last edited by BigBison; 10-26-2004 at 06:55 PM.
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