Wednesday, August 19, 2015

American Airlines Had Serious Close Call in Texas in June: Occurrence preceded tail strike accident in Charlotte last weekend

The Wall Street Journal
Aug. 19, 2015 8:21 p.m. ET

As federal investigators rev up their probe of an American Airlines landing accident in North Carolina last weekend, it turns out that another of the carrier’s jets suffered a dangerous close call approaching a Texas strip in similar stormy weather two months earlier.

On Wednesday, the National Transportation Safety Board said it launched a formal investigation into why American Airlines Group’s Flight 1851, an Airbus A321 operated by US Airways, collided with approach lights on Saturday before striking and damaging the underside of its tail on the runway while trying to land at the Charlotte, N.C. international airport. Pilots reported experiencing a wind shear, or sudden and dramatic shift in wind direction, before climbing away and landing safely on the second try.

Nobody was hurt, but the accident prompted scrutiny from the NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration, while also attracting the attention of outside safety experts. Accidents caused by such wind shear phenomena, typically associated with thunderstorms, are almost unheard of in the U.S. these days due to decades of targeted pilot training and installation of enhanced radars.

But on June 26, an American Airlines jetliner approaching Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport suffered a serious close call, also reportedly during wind shear conditions, and came within dozens of feet of touching down prematurely, according to people familiar with the details. There were no injuries and the aircraft wasn’t damaged, these people said.

Regardless of weather, cockpit crews are required to comply with safety rules at individual airlines, mandating landing pilots to execute a go-around if their planes aren’t stabilized during the final phases of the approach with the proper speed, altitude and orientation relative to the ground. Wind shear events, sometimes called microbursts, are notorious for suddenly pushing planes toward the ground during the final phase of an approach, when speed generally is low and engines are throttled back.

In last Saturday’s accident, the safety board said the single-aisle, twin-engine jet, which was immediately taken out of service, suffered “substantial damage following a tail strike.”

According to the safety board’s release, investigators will examine weather factors, airplane performance and pilot actions. The A321’s black box recorders, containing flight data along with cockpit conversations and voice communications, are being downloaded and analyzed at the NTSB’s laboratory in Washington.

Original article can be found here:

1 comment:

  1. I was on US Air Flt 1851. Noticed we were coming in hot -- much faster than normal -- so I think the pilot may have compensated for the potential loss of speed due to reports of potential wind shear by other pilots. Don't remember whether we hit before the pilot had the plane at full throttle, but it was almost simultaneous. Quite a few loud gasps and a few yelps, but it immediately got dead quiet among the passengers. I don't remember the captain making any announcement over the p.a., and he was ghost white and quiet when we deplaned. Had no idea of the trouble we'd been in until we saw it on ABC World News a few days later. I've now spent 4 years trying to get info out of the NTSB, which has been tight lipped, non-committal on the anticipated release date of a full accident report, and no longer responds to my occasional emails and calls. Anyone know whether (and how) to get anywhere with them? Very frustrated!