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Posted: 10/26/2004 10:05:26 AM EST
story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&e=3&u=/ap/20041026/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/ntsb_flight587


WASHINGTON - The co-pilot of American Airlines Flight 587 caused the November 2001 crash that claimed the lives of 265 people, the staff of the nation's airline safety agency reported Tuesday. The safety board itself was expected to rule later Tuesday on the staff's findings.

Investigator Robert Benzon of the National Transportation Safety Board (news - web sites) staff said the copilot's response to turbulence, just seconds after the Airbus A300-600 plane took off from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, was "unnecessary and aggressive."

Benzon also said that investigators found that American Airlines improperly trained its pilots to use the aircraft's rudder while recovering from upsets and said the problem could have been exacerbated by the airline's simulator training.

Benzon also said that the rudder control system on the aircraft is sensitive at higher air speeds, which is potentially hazardous.

On Nov. 12, 2001, First Officer Sten Molin, the co-pilot, moved the plane's rudder back and forth after takeoff, trying to control the climbing aircraft, not realizing he was sealing the grim fate of those on board.

Molin was at the controls when the plane hit turbulence almost immediately after taking off for the Dominican Republic.

"Hang onto it, hang onto it," Capt. Edward States implored.

"Let's go for power, please," Molin said.

A second later came a loud bang, which investigators believe was the tail breaking off. Then came the roar of air rushing against the aircraft and alarms sounding in the cockpit.

"What the hell are we into (inaudible)?" Molin said. "We're stuck in it."

States' last recorded words came five seconds later: "Get out of it! Get out of it!"

Both Airbus Industrie, which manufactured the jetliner, and American Airlines, which trained Molin, agree that if he had taken his foot off the rudder pedal, the tail wouldn't have broken off, the plane wouldn't have plunged into a New York City neighborhood. It was the second deadliest plane crash on U.S. soil.

But Molin didn't know he was putting more pressure on the tail than it could bear. Why he didn't — and who's to blame for that — is the subject of a bitter fight between Airbus and American.

According to investigators, Molin tried to steady the aircraft using pedals that control the rudder, a large flap on a plane's tail. When his initial movement failed, Molin tried again and again. His actions placed enormous stress on the tail.

American, the only U.S. airline to use that type of Airbus plane for passenger service, claims Airbus didn't alert it to the danger of sharp rudder movements until after the crash. The airline also contends the Airbus A300-600 has uniquely sensitive flight controls that can cause more severe rudder movements than the pilot intends.

"Airbus had the ability to truly red-flag the issue," American spokesman Bruce Hicks said.

Airbus says it told American a number of times and in a number of ways that the airline was improperly training pilots about how to use the rudder.



An Airbus spokesman declined to comment on the investigation before the hearing. However, the company has provided the NTSB (news - web sites) with a number of documents to support its claim.

For example, a letter dated Aug. 20, 1997, warned American chief pilot Cecil Ewing that rudders should not be moved abruptly to right a jetliner or when a plane is flown at a sharp angle. The letter was signed by representatives from The Boeing Co., the Federal Aviation Administration (news - web sites) and Airbus.

Airbus contends that even people within American Airlines were concerned about how the airline was training its pilots. A letter to Airbus dated May 22, 1997, from American technical pilot David Tribout expressed concern about the airline's then-new training course on advanced maneuvers.

"I am very concerned that one aspect of the course is inaccurate and potentially hazardous," Tribout wrote. His concern: Pilots were being taught that the rudder should be used to control a plane's rolling motion. Hicks countered that Airbus didn't share important safety information about the rudder after a problem with American Flight 903 in May 1997. During that incident, pilots used the rudder to steady an Airbus A300-600 plane on approach to West Palm Beach airport. The plane nearly crashed and one person was seriously injured.

Afterward, Airbus told the NTSB that it included a warning that abrupt rudder movement in some circumstances "can lead to rapid loss of controlled flight," and, in others, could break off the tail.

Hicks said Airbus' comments didn't specifically say the rudder movements on Flight 903 had exposed the tail to so much pressure that it could have been ripped off.

Immediately after the Flight 903 incident, an inspection found no damage to the tail. But five years later, the plane was inspected more closely because of concerns aroused by the crash of Flight 587. Cracks were found and the tail was replaced.

John David, a spokesman for American Airlines' pilots union, said pilots had always thought that they could use rudders to the full extent without hurting the airplane. He also believes Airbus didn't properly communicate what it knew.

American now gives its pilots specialized training on the rudder control system based on information learned during the investigation.




Now there's a gunfight over who's training error it was, American or Airbus.

Isn't there a guy here who works on Airbus'? Maybe he can add more.
Link Posted: 10/26/2004 12:18:52 PM EST
the tail coming off was pilot error?
seems to me that the plane should be built a bit sturdier so that simply over using the rudder during turbulance doesn't break the tail
Link Posted: 10/26/2004 12:32:41 PM EST
I followed that story pretty closely at the time....I lived only 20-30 miles away from there back then. IIRC, 1st responders were finding parts of planes all over Queens. I specifically remember seeing a gas station where one of the engines landed. Can someone explain to me how pilot error causes a plane to blow apart in mid air? I seem to remember that the prevailing theory was that the plane followed too closely to the flight that took off a few minutes earlier, and got severely effected by the air turbulence behind the first flight. Wouldnt that be the towers fault for clearing the pilot to take off?

No tinfoil here, just very suspiscious of the findings.
I beleive now what I believed then....it was a deliberate act that caused that crash.

I find it curious that the NTSB NEVER finds ANY link to any deliberate act when things like this happen....everything is always an accident...and I call bullshit.

if 9/11 wasnt so fantasic in proportion, it would have been called a tragic accident, not an attack.
I am willing to bet if it had been a single plane that day...we still wouldnt know the truth.

who knows, maybe the sheeple are better off that way.
Link Posted: 10/26/2004 12:44:21 PM EST

Originally Posted By sharky30:
the tail coming off was pilot error?
seems to me that the plane should be built a bit sturdier so that simply over using the rudder during turbulance doesn't break the tail



+1 on that.
Link Posted: 10/26/2004 12:45:32 PM EST

Originally Posted By macro:
I followed that story pretty closely at the time....I lived only 20-30 miles away from there back then. IIRC, 1st responders were finding parts of planes all over Queens. I specifically remember seeing a gas station where one of the engines landed. Can someone explain to me how pilot error causes a plane to blow apart in mid air? I seem to remember that the prevailing theory was that the plane followed too closely to the flight that took off a few minutes earlier, and got severely effected by the air turbulence behind the first flight. Wouldnt that be the towers fault for clearing the pilot to take off?

No tinfoil here, just very suspiscious of the findings.
I beleive now what I believed then....it was a deliberate act that caused that crash.

I find it curious that the NTSB NEVER finds ANY link to any deliberate act when things like this happen....everything is always an accident...and I call bullshit.

if 9/11 wasnt so fantasic in proportion, it would have been called a tragic accident, not an attack.
I am willing to bet if it had been a single plane that day...we still wouldnt know the truth.

who knows, maybe the sheeple are better off that way.



Shoebomber.
Link Posted: 10/26/2004 12:48:11 PM EST

Originally Posted By macro:
I followed that story pretty closely at the time....I lived only 20-30 miles away from there back then. IIRC, 1st responders were finding parts of planes all over Queens. I specifically remember seeing a gas station where one of the engines landed. Can someone explain to me how pilot error causes a plane to blow apart in mid air? I seem to remember that the prevailing theory was that the plane followed too closely to the flight that took off a few minutes earlier, and got severely effected by the air turbulence behind the first flight. Wouldnt that be the towers fault for clearing the pilot to take off?

No tinfoil here, just very suspiscious of the findings.
I beleive now what I believed then....it was a deliberate act that caused that crash.

I find it curious that the NTSB NEVER finds ANY link to any deliberate act when things like this happen....everything is always an accident...and I call bullshit.

if 9/11 wasnt so fantasic in proportion, it would have been called a tragic accident, not an attack.
I am willing to bet if it had been a single plane that day...we still wouldnt know the truth.

who knows, maybe the sheeple are better off that way.



You are exactly correct. The downing of flight 800 is also suspicious. Even pilots call BS to the NTSB's explanation of that one. They said the plane kept climbing after the front came off, and the "missile trail" everyone saw was really a trail of burning fuel - even though some of the witnesses were ex-military and knew what a missile trail looked like. I think AQ was sitting in a boat under the flight path and shot it down, myself.
Link Posted: 10/26/2004 12:48:38 PM EST
[Last Edit: 10/26/2004 12:49:29 PM EST by danno-in-michigan]
It probably was a combination of pilot error and a design problem. From the reports I've read, the copilot was very aggressive on the rudders. An airplane rudder is typically designed so it won't snap off if the rudder pedal is fully depressed but they will snap off if you fully press on one rudder pedal and then abruptly fully press the other. It also sounds like the airbus rudder system is a little too powerful.
Your guess is as good as mine as to how the engine broke off the airplane - I'd like to see that section of the NTSB report. But, like anyone on the internet, I can engage in rampant speculation. When the rudder left the airplane it no longer necessarily wanted to fly nose first (imagine shooting an arrow without vanes). At large yaw angles and high power settings, the engine is going to violently compressor stall, which could cause it to throw some blades, which would cause the rotor to be unbalanced. At high RPM this would induce a large vibrating load on the engine mount because of the rotating imbalance. I believe engine mounts are designed to break away when this happens so the engine doesn't destroy the wing.
Link Posted: 10/26/2004 12:49:42 PM EST

Originally Posted By sharky30:
the tail coming off was pilot error?
seems to me that the plane should be built a bit sturdier so that simply over using the rudder during turbulance doesn't break the tail




That's exactly what I thought of when they said that. Damn is the plane that weak that the pilot can work the rudder and break the plane in half FUNK DAT!
Link Posted: 10/26/2004 12:50:38 PM EST
Can suddenly turning the steering wheel to avoid a ladder in the road cause a car to break in two?
Link Posted: 10/26/2004 12:53:31 PM EST

Originally Posted By sharky30:
the tail coming off was pilot error?
seems to me that the plane should be built a bit sturdier so that simply over using the rudder during turbulance doesn't break the tail



+1

Yeah, no shit...airliners are supposed to be sturdier than that...sounds like Airbus is trying to cover up a design defect. What do you think would happen to an auto manufacturer if they made cars whose wheels came off under hard cornering???

Say, isn't Airbus a FRENCH company???
Link Posted: 10/26/2004 1:00:16 PM EST

Originally Posted By jkstexas2001:
Can suddenly turning the steering wheel to avoid a ladder in the road cause a car to break in two?



no but if it's a 4x4 and your going fast enough the thing will start rolling and if you don't have a belt on.....you'll most likely die!

....not that your point had anything to do with the airplane breaking in 2
Link Posted: 10/26/2004 1:06:01 PM EST

Originally Posted By jkstexas2001:
Can suddenly turning the steering wheel to avoid a ladder in the road cause a car to break in two?



Think of it this way....if your car was going say 450Mph.....and you cranked the wheel...the torque would snap enough steel to make steering impossible...which would then lead to the car going out of control and breaking apart as it rolled and flipped.

Im sure that the explanation the NTSB came up with is technically sound.
Apply the laws of physics and its pretty easy to imagine a plane coming apart with no steering at full speed. My issue is that I simply dont believe it in this case.

Could it have happened like they said....sure.
Did it....obviously I have no idea...but im not taking the report as absolute fact.

Even if it did happen exactly as they say it did...would I blame the pilot? Probably not.
If he wasnt trained appropriately...or worse, was completely misinformed of the rudder operation parameters..not his fault.

I dont like flying anymore....Im not the slightest bit scared of terrorism either. I just dont trust old equipment that falls apart all the time.
Link Posted: 10/26/2004 1:08:16 PM EST
I'm going to email my friend about this and see what he thinks. he's an engineer, originally going to school for aerospace but switched to mechanical due to the job market being a bit bigger
Link Posted: 10/26/2004 1:24:32 PM EST
I went to Europe last year to see some relatives for a long weekend......4 flights in 4 days, I just don't think about all the flights that crash and burn.

There's a tremendously bigger chance you'll die in a car accident, even with your belt on.
Link Posted: 10/26/2004 5:39:36 PM EST
Hope Airbus doesn't have this problem with their new A-380. If it does they are going to need a lot of body bags.
Link Posted: 10/26/2004 5:48:04 PM EST

Originally Posted By jkstexas2001:

Originally Posted By macro:
I followed that story pretty closely at the time....I lived only 20-30 miles away from there back then. IIRC, 1st responders were finding parts of planes all over Queens. I specifically remember seeing a gas station where one of the engines landed. Can someone explain to me how pilot error causes a plane to blow apart in mid air? I seem to remember that the prevailing theory was that the plane followed too closely to the flight that took off a few minutes earlier, and got severely effected by the air turbulence behind the first flight. Wouldnt that be the towers fault for clearing the pilot to take off?

No tinfoil here, just very suspiscious of the findings.
I beleive now what I believed then....it was a deliberate act that caused that crash.

I find it curious that the NTSB NEVER finds ANY link to any deliberate act when things like this happen....everything is always an accident...and I call bullshit.

if 9/11 wasnt so fantasic in proportion, it would have been called a tragic accident, not an attack.
I am willing to bet if it had been a single plane that day...we still wouldnt know the truth.

who knows, maybe the sheeple are better off that way.



You are exactly correct. The downing of flight 800 is also suspicious. Even pilots call BS to the NTSB's explanation of that one. They said the plane kept climbing after the front came off, and the "missile trail" everyone saw was really a trail of burning fuel - even though some of the witnesses were ex-military and knew what a missile trail looked like. I think AQ was sitting in a boat under the flight path and shot it down, myself.



With what? It was out of range of most shoulder launched SAM missles, and a SAM missle wouldn't strike the fuselage, it would go for the engine, and a small shoulder launched missle usually won't cause a plane to blow up in midair, it just damages it.

Link Posted: 10/26/2004 5:53:43 PM EST

Originally Posted By macro:
I find it curious that the NTSB NEVER finds ANY link to any deliberate act when things like this happen....everything is always an accident...and I call bullshit.




Maybe because they weren't deliberate acts, just accidents.

What about Flt 103? They called that one as a bomb.

With Flt 587 so soon after 9/11, I'm sure the first thing that went through a lot of govt. minds was terrorism, however the facts don't fit that. They recovered the stablizer from the tailfin, and it's clear that it had sheared off. I saw the pictures. Also, from an article, Airbus was warning American Airlines about the rudder and overcontrolling before the accident, and several American Airlines employees warned AA about this too.

It's kind of scarey if you think about it. This co-pilot doomed everyone on board, simply because he moved the rudder back and forth too fast.
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