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2009 plane crash in Kingston could have been avoided - report

Published:Tuesday | May 6, 2014 | 12:43 PM

Jovan Johnson, Gleaner Writer

KINGSTON, Jamaica:

A report on the 2009 crash of an American Airlines plane in Kingston says the accident could have been avoided if the flight crew had not ignored certain precautions and if the pilots had received adequate training in tailwind landing.

Some 148 passengers narrowly escaped death on December 22, 2009 when American Airlines Flight 331, flying from Miami to Kingston, overshot the runway at the Norman Manley International Airport and came to a stop inches from the sea just off the Port Royal main road.

Almost five years later, the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority has released the report on the investigation into the incident.

Almost five years after the incident, the report has documented a wide range of issues that it says contributed to the crash on a wet and rainy night.

According to the report, the flight crew did not make themselves familiar with all the available information before departing Miami.

It says the flight crew did not give any consideration to the expected landing conditions in Kingston before departing from Miami.

The report says there is no evidence that the flight crew showed any concern about the runway conditions until just before landing.

SEE: American Airlines Flight 331 Final Report here

The report concludes that this shows that the flight crew’s Situational Awareness before departure was incomplete, partly due to the inaccurate information given to them.

In aviation, situational awareness is a term used to describe a person’s awareness of their surroundings, the meaning of these surroundings, a prediction of what these surroundings will mean in the future, and then using this information to act.

However, the report says this awareness was low and as a result, the crew could not accurately predict possible landing conditions and make the appropriate adjustments.

SEE: Flash representation of the final moments of flight AA 331 here

Meanwhile, the report notes that information relayed to the flight crew informing of the adverse weather and that the runway at the Normal Manley International airport was wet were not acted on.

The report has revealed that the flight crew were focused on several other issues including getting the plane within the approved landing weight requirement during what it calls the late stage of the immediate approach.

According to the report, until the air traffic controllers indicated to the pilots that the runway was wet, they were proceeding as if the runway was dry and using autobrakes.

Even with this, the crew reportedly was not concerned since there were no reports on any action taken.

The report said the crew was proceeding with some level of complacency, landing in rain with a tailwind.


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