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AA 1420

Thu Jul 10, 2008 9:47 am

Hey folks,

just saw a documentation about American Flight 1420 which overshot 4L in Dallas (I think). It was a MD80.

As I sure think many here have read and heard a lot about that accident and I really wondered how this accident could happen.
The weather was severe, close to unflyable (with a safety approach anyway), thunderstorms, gusts of 45kn over the airfield and crosswind 330 with 21 to a runway heading 40.

The crosswind exceeded the aircraft and airline specs for wet runways by far, as the limit was at 10kn crosswind for those conditions.

With that fact given, a difficult approach, windshear and the mistake of not arming ground spoilers therefore limiting braking efficiency, the accident was kind of predictable.

So? Why on earth did the pilots not decide to divert in the first place? With making the landing calculations, the crosswind condition alone would have been enough to easily decide to divert.
I know mistakes happen, but I wonder about the psychological fact behind their decision to try the approach? How could they forget all their training, all their procedures, all their limits and so on?

Please no "its just the way it goes bla bla bla" answers.
I really want to find out the psychological fact behind it.
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RE: AA 1420

Thu Jul 10, 2008 10:40 am

Quoting NicoEDDF (Thread starter):
just saw a documentation about American Flight 1420 which overshot 4L in Dallas (I think).

This was a crash that occured in Little Rock Ark.
According to the NTSB web site...It was on rwy 4R

Check out click on aviation then click major investigations then scroll to the last report.

This will give you good straight info on the crash...not the documentary (ala news media view)

Posts: 509
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2008 7:13 am

RE: AA 1420

Thu Jul 10, 2008 10:59 am

Thanks a lot I will read it.  

Edit: I just read the report.

And of course you are correct, it was 4R with departure in Dallas, not arrival.

What I don't understand is still the psychological fact behind the decision to land under the circumstances. It was not a subjective decision by the pilots to make. There have been clear statings in the AA flight manual and even if the Cpt. and the FO didn't check them, their (wrong) assumptions of crosswind limits were also above the conditions in Ltitle Rock at that time.
So one should think it is a VERY easy decision - to divert!

So why didn't they? Any Pilots here with insights? Is it the strong internal will to succeed? Or to arrive at the destined airport? "Get there-itis" as the documentation stated? Or just misjudging the true situation by a Cpt. with more than 10.000 hours?

Any Pilots here who performed a (succesful) landing and afterwards thougth that they should have diverted out of safety concerns?

[Edited 2008-07-10 04:30:33]
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RE: AA 1420

Thu Jul 10, 2008 12:01 pm

There was a chain of errors that led to the accident, but it all started with the long duty day..

The captain was the ORD chief pilot (rarely flew)

The FO was a new-hire (reluctant to speak up to such a senior captain)

They were pushing a 16 hr duty day

They never armed the speed brakes

They used max reverse thrust and the MD80 manual says using more than whatever amount of EPR setting during reverse thrust will decrease rudder effectiveness during landing roll out

And of course, they landed in less than desirable weather conditions

I think most pilots have gone through an experience where they say "wow, I';ll never do that again".

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