Photo of American Airlines A300-605R
Photo of American Airlines A300-605R
Photo copyright Daniel Werner - used with permission
Accident Perspectives:
Airplane Life Cycle
  • Operational
Accident Threat CategoriesGroupings
  • Incorrect Piloting Technique
  • Structural Failure
  • In-flight Upsets
  • Loss of Control
Accident Common Themes
  • Organizational Lapses
  • Human Error
  • Flawed Assumptions

American Airlines Flight 587, Airbus A300-600, N14053

Location: Belle Harbor, New York

Date: November 12, 2001


American Airlines 587, an Airbus A300-600, N14053, crashed into a residential area of Belle Harbor, New York shortly after takeoff from Kennedy International Airport. All 260 people on board and five people on the ground died in the crash.

The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a post-crash fire. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The flight was a regularly scheduled passenger flight to the Dominican Republic, with nine crewmembers and 251 passengers on board. The airplane's vertical stabilizer and rudder separated in flight and were found in Jamaica Bay approximately one mile north of the main wreckage site. The airplane's engines also separated in flight and were found several blocks north and east of the main wreckage site.

The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the accident was the result of the in-flight separation of the vertical stabilizer and subsequent loss of control. The separation of the vertical stabilizer was determined to have been caused by the first officer's "unnecessary and excessive rudder pedal inputs" in response to an encounter with wake turbulence from a preceding aircraft.