Accident Airbus A300B4-605R N14053, Monday 12 November 2001
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Date:Monday 12 November 2001
Type:Silhouette image of generic A306 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Airbus A300B4-605R
Owner/operator:American Airlines
Registration: N14053
MSN: 420
Year of manufacture:1987
Total airframe hrs:37550 hours
Cycles:14934 flights
Engine model:General Electric CF6-80C2A5
Fatalities:Fatalities: 260 / Occupants: 260
Other fatalities:5
Aircraft damage: Destroyed, written off
Location:Belle Harbor, NY -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Nature:Passenger - Scheduled
Departure airport:New York-John F. Kennedy International Airport, NY (JFK/KJFK)
Destination airport:Santo Domingo-Las Américas José Francisco Peña Gómez Int'l Airport (SDQ/MDSD)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
American Airlines Flight 587 was scheduled to leave New York-JFK at 08:00 for a flight to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The boarding process at gate 22 took a little longer than planned due to additional security procedures that delayed boarding. The gate was closed at 08:38 and pushback from the gate was accomplished at 09:00. The crew taxied to runway 31L behind Japan Air Lines Flight 047, a Boeing 747-400 bound for Tokyo-Narita. JL047 was cleared for takeoff at 09:11:08 but started its takeoff roll one minute later. While JL047 was still preparing for takeoff, the tower controller called AA587, cautioned the flight crew about wake turbulence and instructed them to taxi into position and hold on runway 31L: "American five eighty seven heavy Kennedy tower, caution wake turbulence runway three one left, taxi into position and hold". A little later the JAL Boeing 747 rotated and initiated a climbing left turn over Jamaica Bay (the "bridge departure").
Then, at 09:13:27 Flight 587 was cleared for takeoff: "American five eight seven heavy, wind three zero zero at niner, runway three one left, cleared for takeoff". Takeoff roll was initiated about 09:14, circa 1 minutes and 45 seconds following the 747. After leaving the ground the landing gear was retracted at 09:14:34. The tower controller then cleared the crew for the bridge departure: "American five eight seven heavy, turn left. fly the Bridge Climb. Contact New York departure. Good morning." Flight 587 contacted the ARTCC controller about 09:15, and stated they were climbing out of 1,300 feet for 5,000 feet. The controller responded by clearing the flight to climb to 13,000 feet, turn left, and proceed direct to WAVEY. At that moment, while in a climbing left turn, the crew heard a brief squeak and a rattling sound, possibly caused by wake turbulence. Some fifteen seconds later the Airbus began to yaw to the right. Full right and left rudder were applied and the first officer called for "max power" at 09:15:54. Again full right and left rudder were applied and sounds of a snap, a thump and a loud bang were heard when the rudder travelled full right again. The entire vertical tail fin had separated and the Airbus entered an uncontrolled descent from an altitude of about 2500 feet. During this descent both engines separated from the wings coming down within 100 feet of each other near the Newport Avenue / Beach 129th Street crossroads. The aircraft crashed into Beach 131 Street, a Queens residential area.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The in-flight separation of the vertical stabilizer as a result of the loads beyond ultimate design that were created by the first officer’s unnecessary and excessive rudder pedal inputs. Contributing to these rudder pedal inputs were characteristics of the A300-600 rudder system design and elements of the American Airlines Advanced Aircraft Maneuvering Program. "

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Report number: NTSB AAR-04-04
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 2 years and 11 months
Download report: Final report




  • 3rd worst accident in 2001
  • worst accident of this aircraft type
  • worst accident of this aircraft type at the time



photo (c) Michael J. Wilusz; Belle Harbor, NY; November 2001

photo (c) Michael J. Wilusz; Belle Harbor, NY; November 2001

photo (c) Michael J. Wilusz; Belle Harbor, NY; November 2001

photo (c) Michael J. Wilusz; Belle Harbor, NY; November 2001

photo (c) Michael J. Wilusz; Belle Harbor, NY; November 2001

photo (c) NTSB; Belle Harbor, NY; November 2001; (publicdomain)

photo (c) NTSB; Belle Harbor, NY; November 2001; (publicdomain)

photo (c) NTSB; Jamaica Bay, NY; November 2001; (publicdomain)

photo (c) Marlo Plate

photo (c) Peter Frei; Miami International Airport, FL (MIA); 31 January 2000

photo (c) Jurgen Aertssen; Miami International Airport, FL (MIA); 12 March 1996

photo (c) Werner Fischdick; Miami International Airport, FL (MIA); 30 December 1997

Revision history:


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