Rudder Inputs Blamed For 587 Crash

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

The NTSB has blamed the first officer's "unnecessary and excessive rudder pedal inputs" for the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in Belle Harbor, N.Y., on Nov. 12, 2001. In its final report, released Tuesday, the NTSB said the vertical stabilizer separated from the Airbus A300-605R after the first officer "inappropriately manipulated the rudder back and forth several times" after hitting the wake turbulence of a Boeing 747. The extreme movements exceeded the design loads of the vertical fin, which separated -- 265 people died, including five on the ground. The NTSB also cited peculiarities with the aircraft's rudder-system design and elements of American Airline's pilot-training program as contributing factors. The NTSB said the first officer had a tendency to overreact to wake turbulence and that the airline's Advanced Aircraft Maneuvering Program contributed to the accident "by providing an unrealistic and exaggerated view of the effects of wake turbulence on heavy transport-category aircraft." In fact, the board found that if the crew had simply ridden out the wake turbulence or if the first officer had stopped the rudder inputs at any time before the tail came off, the accident wouldn't have happened. The board made eight recommendations, some of which called for modifying the rudder controls on A300-600 and A310 aircraft to prevent this type of over-control. Another called for airline pilot training to "avoid the kind of negative training found in American Airlines' upset recovery training."