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AA Jamaica UPDATE: Jamaican Investigator claims poor landing

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Marriott Platinum Member
Dec 2, 2003

[SIZE=+2]American jet landed too far down runway, Jamaican official says

[/SIZE] [SIZE=-1]10:50 PM CST on Tuesday, January 5, 2010

[/SIZE] [SIZE=-1]By DAVE MICHAELS / The Dallas Morning News
[email protected]

[/SIZE] WASHINGTON – An American Airlines jet that crashed in Jamaica last month touched down in the middle of the runway and was still traveling 72 mph just before it split open near a series of thick concrete posts, a top Jamaican aviation safety official said Tuesday.

Jamaican investigators are scheduled to give their first public update today on the crash of American Airlines Flight 331, which careened off the runway at Kingston-Norman Manley International Airport on Dec. 22.
Lt. Col. Oscar Derby, director general of the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority, said investigators have gathered facts but are still trying to answer why pilots landed in nearly the middle of the 8,910-foot runway – limiting their distance for stopping the aircraft in heavy rain and gusting winds.
Derby said the Boeing 737-800 bounced after landing, which would have further eliminated several hundred feet of stopping distance.
"The [runway] touchdown usually occurs at 1,500 feet, or between 1,000 and 1,500 feet [down an 8,900-foot airstrip]," Derby said. "Why this aircraft touched down at 4,100 feet is something that we are investigating very carefully in order to determine what the cause might be."
The crash left the plane cracked apart in two places but didn't result in any fatalities. Jamaican investigators are leading the inquiry, while the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has sent investigators to assist. Jamaican investigators have interviewed the pilots and are reviewing cockpit voice and flight data recorders for clues, Derby said.
Separately, the Federal Aviation Administration is conducting extra surveillance of Fort Worth-based American after two other bad landings, including one on Dec. 24 in Austin when a plane's wing struck the ground while landing. Such reviews typically include in-flight inspections and examinations of safety data to look for warning signs that may have been missed.
"In situations where there may be several incidents involving a single carrier over a short period of time, FAA inspectors increase their surveillance, which we're doing now, and conduct a review of those events to determine whether they might be indicative of a larger issue," FAA spokeswoman Sasha Johnson said.
Tim Wagner, an American spokesman, said the carrier is examining the Jamaica crash as it cooperates with the FAA review. The carrier was the subject of enhanced FAA scrutiny last year because of maintenance lapses.
"We always do comprehensive reviews of incidents," Wagner said. "We are always willing to work with the FAA and find ways to evaluate incidents to learn lessons going forward."
Derby said Jamaican authorities are still "weeks or months" away from reporting the major contributing factors to the accident, which may turn on bad decisions by pilots in difficult weather.
Pilots typically approach an airfield into a headwind to reduce speed. But the American pilots approached the Kingston runway from the north, where a 16 mph tailwind increased their speed. The Boeing 737-800 has a tailwind landing limit of about 17 mph.
When the plane's wheels first touched down on the rain-slicked runway, the pilots were already 4,100 feet into the 8,900-foot airstrip. It remains unclear why the pilots touched down there. Preliminary evidence suggests the captain used a head-up display, a navigational aide that guides a pilot toward the appropriate point to land, Derby said.
Pilots and aviation experts say that if a head-up display is used correctly, it almost always results in a safe landing regardless of weather.
Passengers on Flight 331 reported turbulence so severe that beverage service had to be stopped. Some said they felt the jet bounce or skid after landing.
Derby said there were "indications" that the jet hydroplaned over water after landing, a condition that can impair a plane's braking system.
On Wednesday, investigators plan to begin a runway friction test to determine whether a slick runway may have contributed to the crash, Derby said. Previous flights landed in bad weather that evening, but the rain may have been heavier when Flight 331 landed, Derby said.
"We have looked at exactly where the rain was and the intensity of the rain," he said. "We are zooming in to try and reconstruct the conditions on the runway and test the friction rate, and therefore what braking existed at the time."
Mike Slack, an aviation lawyer in Austin, said a jet may bounce on landing for reasons including excessive airspeed and excessive rate of descent. The bounce can deprive the jet of several hundred feet of stopping distance, Slack said.
"The moral of the story is you don't land an aircraft in a thunderstorm with a dynamic weather environment like that present over the runway," he said.
Staff writer Eric Torbenson in Dallas contributed to this report.
Knowing how foreign "investigators" tend to come up with stuff, I'll wait to pas judgment when the NTSB official report comes out. Remember the Brazilian "investigation" on the Gol/Legacy midair?

Disclaimer: I am not attempting to sugarcoat anything - if those guys indeed screwed up and landed long with a tailwind, that's where the blame will fall.
10 kts is 12 MPH right? I think the only time I use MPH is when I tell folks we are going roughly 550 MPH or rotate at 170 MPH at TO, since they drive cars in MPH.
Some type of PFM, gee-whiz, tattle-tale crapola we have on our -700's somehow tells the powers-that-be exactly how far we land down the runway.

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