Photo of American Airlines MD-82
Photo of American Airlines MD-82
Photo copyright Hector A Rivera-SJU - used with permission
Accident Perspectives:
Airplane Life Cycle
  • Operational
Accident Threat CategoriesGroupings
  • Landing / Takeoff Excursions
  • Crew Resource Management
  • Incorrect Piloting Technique
  • Loss of Control
  • Approach and Landing
  • Automation
Accident Common Themes
  • Human Error

American Airlines Flight 1420, MD-82, N215AA

Location: Little Rock National Airport in Little Rock, Arkansas

Date: June 1, 1999


Shortly before midnight on the evening of June 1, 1999, American Airlines Flight 1420 crashed after the aircraft overran the end of runway 4R during landing at Little Rock National Airport in Little Rock, Arkansas. After departing the end of the runway, the airplane struck supporting structure for the instrument landing system localizer array, located 411 feet beyond the end of the runway. The aircraft continued through a chain link fence and over a rock embankment into a flood plain, where it came to rest after colliding with the runway 22L approach lighting support structure. The captain and ten passengers were killed. The first officer, 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 post-crash fire.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined 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."