Air Crash Investigation. Queens.
Air Crash Investigation. Queens.

Air Crash Investigation. Queens.


November 12 2001 years. For staff New York's John Kennedy Airport this is a typical busy work day. On board flight 587,American Airlines» 260 passengers. The crew conducts a standard preflight check. Commander - Ed jersey states former military pilot. He came to the «American Airlines» 16 years ago. The co-pilot - Sten Molin. They were coordinated by the crew, and nothing no signs of trouble.


            A few minutes later, the crew receives permission to taxi. They are second in line. The flight plan for Flight 587 is to fly over New York's Jamaica Bay and then head south for the Dominican Republic. All passengers want to quickly change the cold November weather for the hot climate of the Caribbean. One passenger on this flight has more reasons to enjoy life than everyone else. 2 months ago, on September 11, Helda Major survived the attack on the World Trade Center building in New York. She was working on the ground floor when terrorists in two airliners crashed into the twin towers and killed more than 2500 people.


Expert: 11 September - a day that will not be able to forget any resident of New York City. That day changed not only the city, but the whole world. All experienced great shock, which lasted for many months.


Air Crash Investigation Discovery video.



            Before takeoff, pilots receive a warning from the controller about the vortex turbulence. Their lane was released, and they began taxiing. The co-pilot asks about the distance to the recently taking off aircraft. The commander replies that he is eight kilometers ahead of them. The plane accelerates along the runway and takes off without any problems. Pilots get permission to climb.


            At this time, residents of the New York area of ​​Queens hear the familiar sounds of airplanes. For them, this is a common thing, because every 45 seconds near the plane takes off or lands.


            During the climb gets 587 flight turbulence. The pilots try to stabilize the situation. However, at an altitude of 700 meters above the ground there is terrible. The plane loses height and starts to fall to the ground. On board 31 ton of highly flammable fuel. Pilots do not understand what is happening. But the plane continued to fall directly on the houses.


The story of one plane crash


Witness: At first the sound was heard a normal flying aircraft. I lay in bed and was in a state of half asleep. Then the sound became louder, and I felt a slight vibration. Our house was shaking with terrible force. Everything happened very quickly.


            Despite the attempts of the crew to bring the plane out of its dive, it falls to the ground. Due to the fuel, a huge fireball breaks out, which covers several houses.


Eyewitness: The plane crashed somewhere in the end of our street and exploded. From the window I saw a bright orange light. All around screaming. Dad and I ran out of the house. The whole street was in flames, and rose high into the sky of black smoke.


            In a quiet area raging fire. And the city, which has not yet come to its senses after the recent terrorist attacks, is again plunging into fear and panic. The horrible scene seemed to be the echo of September 11 people. All 260 people aboard the aircraft, as well as 5 people on the ground, died.


The story of one plane crash


            After reports of a plane crash in Queens measures in New York, Rudolph Giuliani calms the public. The city has increased security measures and closed airports. Departures of all aircraft delayed. Thousands of frightened passengers cannot fly away. Everyone thought it was a terrorist attack. I could not believe that the plane could just fall.


            Fearing the worst, the FBI immediately sends a group of agents to investigate. But they do not work alone. First of all, it's a plane crash, and the investigation is led by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). A group of experts arrives at the crash site. Before them is a very difficult task. Destroyed the plane and 4 at home. Both agencies are looking for clues.


Investigator: It was the most difficult investigation that I conducted. I would like to start any investigation without prejudice, but we are all human. And this crash happened immediately after the September 11 tragedy. We were in a hurry with the conclusions, and we had to go back to the evidence and their careful study.  


            The crash site was a mixture of the wreckage of houses and aircraft. Separating one from the other is a daunting task. Parts of the aircraft are assembled and loaded into boxes.


Air Crash Investigation Discovery Video


            The crash occurred in a densely populated area, and hundreds of people saw the plane fall from the sky. Everyone wanted to tell what they saw. But eyewitness accounts were very contradictory. Some said that they saw how the plane broke in half while still in the air. Others claimed to have seen a fireball in the sky. Investigators understand that if this is a terrorist attack, then there should have been traces of a bomb explosion among the wreckage.


Expert: The experts conducted a physical inspection of the wreckage for dents or offsets, which would indicate an explosion inside. But such evidence was found.


            Also, investigators take samples from the wreckage and send them for analysis for the presence of explosive materials.


            Expert: We did a lot of other things. To come back to the airport, ask questions, porters and airport employees. They asked if they noticed something suspicious in respect of passengers of the flight.


            Soon both agencies were able to get the necessary answers. Less than 24 hours later, they found a voice recorder from the cockpit and on-board flight data recorder. While data was being downloaded from the flight recorders, the investigators continued to search for evidence. However, not all of them remained in Queens. The vertical stabilizer (keel) of the aircraft was found a few kilometers from there. He was discovered in Jamaica Bay, between the airport and the crash site. Its location indicated that it had come off while the plane was still in the air. This was the first serious piece of evidence.


Expert: The horizontal and vertical stabilizers is like feathers for dart. They support a predetermined direction of flight. Without them, the fly is not possible. The aircraft is required to fall and nothing can be done.


            Finding a keel tells investigators that the cause of the accident is not terrorism. It would be very difficult to organize an explosion in which only the vertical stabilizer would come off. Experts rush to the investigation. If this is not a terrorist attack, then Airbus A300, one of the most popular aircraft in the world, is defective. And this is a scary prospect.


            They have high hopes for black boxes. And only after starting their research, they notice something strange.


Investigator: With the flight recorder, we learned that the rudder several times quickly moved back and forth, and the reason was not known. Perhaps this is a reaction to pilot something.


Air crashes and accidents


            Investigators are intrigued. Apparently, the pilots had problems with management during the last 30 seconds of flight, and after a few seconds the plane suddenly went into a steep dive. This meant that it was at this moment that the tail left the plane. It's time to listen to the voice recorder from the cockpit. Investigators are listening to pilots discuss that they have fallen into a whirlpool trail from another plane. There are different clicks, noise, but not the sound of a bomb explosion. In addition, laboratory tests confirm that there are no traces of explosives among the debris.


Air crashes and accidents


Investigator: No trace of incendiary substances. No suspicious activity at the airport and was not among the passengers. Besides, no one has claimed responsibility for the incident.


            Having received confirmation that this is not a criminal case, the FBI leaves the investigation in the hands of the National Transportation Safety Board.


            Experts from the NTSB are worried about one question: how could the vertical stabilizer come off.


Investigator: At that time I was in the NTSB about 20 years and I have never ever seen. It was completely unexpected.


            They study the vertical stabilizer, which they fished in Jamaica Bay. They need any clues to help explain why he fell off. Carefully examining the place of separation of the stabilizer from the aircraft, they make a strange discovery. Although the stabilizer is made of a special composite material that is stronger than steel, the fitting (fixing the keel to the body) is simply uprooted. This is the first time that a large composite part has fallen off. Investigators check the manufacturing records of the fallen Airbus A300 and find alarming information about the installation of the stabilizer.


Investigator: Study the early production of records relative to the vertical stabilizer found that after the initial inspection it was found that there is considerable delamination. The material started to delaminate.


            However, Airbus corrected the problem before delivering the American Airlines plane. To make sure that the composite does not fail again, its sample is sent to the laboratory for careful examination. The result shows that there were no signs of composite delamination. Trying to find the reason for the detachment of the stabilizer, investigators, together with Airbus, check its fasteners. The result is again negative. The fasteners can withstand the stated load of 45 ton-forces and even more. The experiment showed that fasteners break under a load of 90 ton-forces.


            At this stage, investigators from the NTSB found out that the tail stabilizer of the 587 flight broke off with pressure on him in 90 tons-of forces. But with so much force Airbus A300 usually shouldn't collide.


            Was the vortex turbulence that the plane hit so strong that it ripped off the tail of the plane? Pilots are trained to avoid the vortexes coming from the aircraft in front, while remaining at a safe distance. Thinking that the pilots are getting too close to the aircraft in front, investigators compare the plan of movement with the distance between the planes. Everything was OK. The data shows they flew at a safe distance and the wake vortex posed no threat.


            Investigators return to the main evidence - an unusual movement of the rudder.

Investigator: We have seen how the steering wheel is very, very quickly deflected the most. So several times. We do not know why this happened. But astonishment climbed eye on his forehead.


            Could extreme steering movements create enough aerodynamic force to tear the keel off? To find out, a computer simulation of the Airbus A300 is being created. During the simulation, the steering wheel is deflected back and forth three times by 11 degrees.


Air Crash Investigation. Queens.


Investigator: With every turn of the steering wheel on the tail of the load increases, and the tail could not resist.


            This was the reason. Pedal movements caused structural failure. But the investigators do not understand why the co-pilot started this movement so strongly? To get out of the turbulence zone. Conversation with pilots who had previously flown with Stan Molin revealed that he had inadequately responded to eddy turbulence in the past. Surprisingly, the pilot followed the training instructions. It turned out that the training was implausible. Based on them, the pilot learned that vortex turbulence can lead to catastrophic consequences. However, the exercise data has been exaggerated and not true.


Investigator: We found that the pilots, though without malice, not trained properly. This suggests that Stan Molin too sharply reacted to the situation.


            The investigation concluded that the co-pilot, fearing the effects of vortex turbulence, overdone with pedals. He did not allow the aircraft to align in the same position. His actions were loaded keel until he had broken off.


            When it became aware of the negative impact of such training, American Airlines adjusted the program to prevent similar errors in the future. Pilots were trained not to use the steering wheel at high speed.


            Unfortunately, this lesson was very expensive. The crash of the 587 flight was the second most fatal plane crash in US history.