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MD82, Little Rock USA, 1999

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Article Information
Category: Weather Weather
Content source: Skybrary SKYbrary
Content control: EUROCONTROL EUROCONTROL

Runway Excursion following approach to landing in poor weather

Description

On 1 June 1999, an MD-80 belonging to American Airlines, overran the end of the runway during landing. The captain and 10 passengers were killed.

Synopsis

This is an extract from the Executive Summary of the official report into the accident published by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) (USA)

“On June 1, 1999, at 2350:44 central daylight time, American Airlines flight 1420, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-82 (MD-82), N215AA, crashed after it overran the end of runway 4R during landing at Little Rock National Airport in Little Rock, Arkansas. Flight 1420 departed from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Texas, about 2240 with 2 flight crewmembers, 4 flight attendants, and 139 passengers aboard and touched down in Little Rock at 2350:20. After departing the end of the runway, the airplane struck several tubes extending outward from the left edge of the instrument landing system localizer array, located 411 feet beyond the end of the runway; passed through a chain link security fence and over a rock embankment to a flood plain, located approximately 15 feet below the runway elevation; and collided with the structure supporting the runway 22L approach lighting system. The captain and 10 passengers were killed; the first officer, the flight attendants, and 105 passengers received serious or minor injuries; and 24 passengers were not injured. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postcrash fire...

The probable cause of the accident was given as:

“...The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable causes of this accident were the flight crew’s failure to discontinue the approach when severe thunderstorms and their associated hazards to flight operations had moved into the airport area and the crew’s failure to ensure that the spoilers had extended after touchdown. Contributing to the accident were the flight crew’s (1) impaired performance resulting from fatigue and the situational stress associated with the intent to land under the circumstances, (2) continuation of the approach to a landing when the company’s maximum crosswind component was exceeded, and (3) use of reverse thrust greater than 1.3 engine pressure ratio after landing..”

The report included the following weather observation, which was recorded around the time of the accident but not disseminated, which gives an indication of the possible weather experienced by the aircraft on the approach:

"Little Rock weather observation at 0450:31Z, winds from 290º at 16 knots gusting to 28 knots, visibility 1 1/2 miles in thunderstorm and heavy rain[41] and mist, a few clouds at 3,700 feet, ceiling overcast 5,000 feet, temperature 18.9º C, dew point 16.7º C, altimeter 29.94 inches of Hg. Remarks: ASOS observation, peak wind from 290º at 35 knots at 0433Z, wind shift at 0431Z, thunderstorm began at 0423Z, rain began at 0424Z, sea level pressure 1014.0 mb [millibars], frequent lightning in-cloud, and cloud-to-cloud, west through northwest, occasional lightning in-cloud, cloud-to-cloud, and cloud-to-ground east, thunderstorm west through northwest, thunderstorm east moving east, precipitation since last hourly observation 0.37 inches."


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