An Airbus captain feedback on the American Airways A321 takeoff incident

Our resident pilot, pilot 121, presents his commentary on the American Airways Flight 300 incident, a takeoff mishap in 2019 that led to the scrapping of an Airbus A321. A closing investigation has now been printed, blaming the issue on pilot error. -Matthew Klint, Editor

Airbus Pilot Evaluation: American Airways A321 Takeoff Incident

on April 10, In 2019, a dramatic incident occurred involving one of many American Airways A321T plane the place it flipped to the left on takeoff, hanging a runway marking and damaging the left wing. The 321T is American’s premium transcontinental airliner outfitted with first, enterprise and economic system courses. The plane returned to New York JFK and landed safely, however additional analysis revealed that the impression was extreme sufficient to trigger a 6-degree upward curve to the left wing. Because of this, the plane was decided to be economically unrepairable and was subsequently dismantled and scrapped.

Just lately, the Nationwide Transportation Security Board (NTSB) launched its closing report on the reason for this incident. See beneath what I believe is the gist of the report.

There’s a lot in there, however it may be summed up fairly merely. After the primary officer known as the takeoff resolution velocity, the captain, for unknown causes, elevated the left rudder enter from 8⁰ to 25⁰. The plane responded by turning left in direction of the sting of the runway. Because the Captain turned the plane, he too started to roll to the left. Each pilots tried to cease this flip with the precise sidestick full, however the plane continued to show to the left, ultimately reaching a most of 37⁰ earlier than the left wing hit the bottom. Shortly after this impression, the rudder pedals turned absolutely to the precise and the crew started to get better the plane.

From there, given what occurred, I see a reasonably regular flight. The Captain was understandably (and by his personal admission) fairly shaken by the occasion. The aircraft was flying usually and there have been no indications within the cockpit of any drawback. The crew made a reasonably fast and prudent resolution to return to JFK the place they landed usually. The Captain made what he thought-about a really sensible resolution given his state of mind to permit the FO to land the aircraft.

The captain’s frame of mind

The a part of this entire incident that’s clearly puzzling is the sudden and fast entry of the Captain’s left rudder into rotation. He has numerous expertise with 25,000 hours of complete time and about 3,000 hours on the 320 sequence, of which he believed most of which was on the 321. There was no want for that info and he would have anticipated that when the aircraft began drifting to the left , would have mechanically corrected for that with the precise rudder enter. his interviews after the occasion, he would not recall making the left helm entrance and his stunned response to the end result of that entrance leaves me pondering that he did not actually understand he had completed it. For him, as much as that time, this was a very routine flight as he had completed lots of of occasions earlier than.

Based mostly on the NTSB report, it seems that each pilots subsequently underwent a retraining course and returned to flying. I am positive there will probably be those that assume that the Captain ought to have been faraway from the cockpit. I’d not agree that his profession as much as that time had been freed from accidents or incidents. He’s a pilot who loves what he does and I strongly consider that he approaches flying as knowledgeable pilot ought to. I’m positive that after this occasion and subsequent coaching he’s a greater pilot at present than he was in April 2019 and I’d not hesitate if I knew who he’s to have my household on board certainly one of his flights.

Generally when an occasion happens, we are able to observe the motion of the crew and discern a motive why they did what they did. This case is irritating perhaps as a result of we will not. I believe the individual most obsessive about it’s the Captain himself as a result of even he has no concept why he did what he did.

Key part of the NTSB report

That is what I take into account to be the important excerpt from the report:

“In line with the digital flight information recorder (DFDR), because the plane accelerated through the takeoff roll, thrust was utilized symmetrically and no braking asymmetries or nostril wheel steering inputs occurred. The left rudder pedal inputs diversified between 0° and 13° because the plane accelerated, in keeping with a proper crosswind. The aircraft’s heading was 315°. Throughout a post-accident interview, the captain reported that, when he utilized left rudder, he felt as if he was utilizing extra power together with his left leg. The captain additional indicated that he saved the aircraft near the middle line of the runway and that, when the aircraft reached 80 knots, “all the pieces was fantastic.” (The CVR recorded the primary officer’s 80-knot name at 2040:13.)

The copilot known as the takeoff resolution velocity (V1) at 8:40:30 p.m., indicating that the plane had reached 150 knots. In line with the captain, someday between that decision and the primary officer’s rotation name (which occurred lower than 2 seconds later to point that the aircraft had reached 156 knots), the aircraft made a “vital” flip to the left. DFDR information confirmed that because the plane accelerated to 156 knots, the captain’s left rudder enter elevated from roughly 8° to 25° over a interval of 1.5 seconds.

The aircraft’s lateral acceleration elevated from 0.11 to 0.32 G and its heading started to veer to the left, after all. The captain then utilized the total rear sidestick (plane nostril up) and the precise sidestick as much as 16°. At 20:40:32, the captain’s aspect stick briefly modified from proper to left deviation earlier than switching to full proper deviation when the nostril gear weight on wheels parameter modified from floor to air . The rudder deviated about 20° to the left. Because the nostril touchdown gear lifted off the bottom, the plane started to roll to the left.

Throughout a post-crash interview, the captain claimed he was “trying on the fringe of the runway” and knew he needed to get the aircraft off the bottom. The captain additionally indicated that, because the plane rotated, it started to roll to the left, so he added proper rudder and proper aileron.

At 20:40:33, the captain’s and copilot’s aspect sticks had been moved to the utmost proper deviation of 20° when the plane was in a left financial institution angle of three° and had a financial institution price of the rising left. The CVR recorded a “twin entry” (an computerized alert) at 20:40:34, indicating that each the captain and first officer made aspect stick entries. At the moment, the rudder moved via its impartial place because the commanded pitch returned to impartial and the pitch angle reached 10°.

The airplane’s left roll was 26° with growing left roll price as the precise fundamental touchdown gear wheel weight parameter modified from floor to air. The plane’s heading was 290°, 25° to the left of the runway centerline. At 20:40:35, left financial institution reached a most of 37°, each sidestick controllers remained within the full proper financial institution command place, and each sidesticks had been moved to full nostril place. upwards. A second later, the CVR recorded a sound in keeping with a wing strike. DFDR information confirmed that the left aileron moved towards impartial and not using a corresponding change in proper aileron or lateral stick management, in keeping with motion of the left aileron resulting from floor contact.

The rudder pedals reached their full proper place and the left fundamental touchdown gear wheel weight parameter shifted from floor to air because the roll angle started to lower. Because the roll angle decreased towards the extent of the wings, the captain made a rudder pedal motion to the left and moved the aspect stick with its most deflection to the left. At 20:40:37, the plane’s radio altitude was 27 ft, airspeed was 164 knots, and pitch was 20.4°. One second later, the rudder pedal started to maneuver towards the impartial place, the captain’s aspect stick moved to the total proper place, and the aspect stick pitch management moved ahead to the impartial place because the plane turned ahead. the left.

At 20:40:39, the primary officer stated, “I do not know what is going on on.” The plane reached a roll to the left of 20° and a most pitch angle of 24° at 2040:40. The plane then rolled again to wings degree and its pitch angle started to lower in direction of 14° over the subsequent 2 seconds because the rudder pedal returned to its impartial place and the aspect stick was moved to the total left place. after which again to the impartial place.

Because the plane’s pitch angle decreased towards 14°, its vertical acceleration decreased to 0.58 G. From 2040:41 to 2040:43, the rudder pedal actions ceased and the rudder returned to its impartial place. . The captain’s aspect stick inputs continued, and the plane recovered from its earlier 20° proper flip angle and climbed usually.”


If in case you have questions on flights or airline operations, you may electronic mail me at I will reply later in my Ask Your Captain column. If in case you have questions or feedback about this particular story, please depart a remark beneath.

picture: American Airways

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