God these ill-informed rumours piss me off. No way would any captain be allowed to fly for 14 hours straight. These guys get paid very well and they're not going to risk having their licence revoked for busting the rules like that. Also, the idea of an airliner holding for 2 hours (let alone 4) is quite bizarre. No way would the captain delegate a landing in such treacherous conditions to a new-hire 1st officer if he thought the job was beyond him.
For the sake of AA's bank balance (I'm thinking of the lawyers here), I hope the pilot was not informed of the true conditions, as I said earlier the wind was gusting up to 87 mph four minutes BEFORE the crash. Apparently Swissair are being sued for not "flying the plane right" during the events last September when their MD11 caught fire in flight. Why do people always assume pilots are stupid and can't do their job properly? They are professional people and their decision-making ability is a very refined skill based upon masses and masses of data and experience acquired over a long period of time, and even when the verdict is "pilot error", it's cos they were lead down a path by a series of events.
If the AA crew had known the true conditions at Little Rock, they would not have landed. If Swissair's MD11 crew had known that the smoke was about to turn into a massive cockpit fire they would have landed without dumping fuel, but a decision-making process can only be made using the facts available.
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz