Investigators blame American Airlines pilot for bad takeoff

Washington – Federal investigators say an error by the captain of an American Airlines flight caused the plane’s wing to flip off the ground during take-off from John F. Kennedy International Airport in 2019.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the captain used too much rudder power to offset the crosswind, causing the plane to veer left and nearly leave the runway.

The pilots managed to take off, but the left wing of the Airbus A321 veered down 37 degrees and hit the ground and mark the runway distance. Part of the sign was installed in the pavilion, according to the report released on Monday.

The crew knew it was a close call.

“That scared (expletive) from me. I thought we were gone” as soon as the plane was in the air, said the co-pilot, according to a transcript of the cockpit voice recorder released by the NTSB.

The captain replied, “The plane (expletive) just flipped over on me, dude.”

The two pilots, both of whom were 58 and had extensive experience when the accident occurred, are still flying on US planes, according to Fort Worth, Texas-based airline.

Safety “guides every decision we make and the action we take. We appreciate the thorough investigation and report conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board,” US spokeswoman Sarah Gantz said. She said the airline was reviewing the NTSB report “and will closely examine whether there is a need for any Changes in training or procedures.”

The pilots cut short the flight to Los Angeles and returned to JFK. None of the 102 passengers or crew of the plane was hurt, according to the safety panel.

Although there was a quick crosswind at JFK on the night of the flight, it was well below the US border for takeoff.

The start of take-off seemed normal, but the crew was alarmed when the plane began to veer left. The pilots seemed unsure of what was going on.

The sound of the wing hitting the ground was captured by the recorder in the cockpit.

About seven minutes into the flight, the co-pilot suggested returning to JFK. A minute later, the captain agreed.

A flight attendant called them and said a passenger sitting near the left wing said the wing “looks dented” and “doesn’t look normal”. The captain said the passenger report didn’t matter because they were going back to JFK.

The landing was calm. The NTSB said American Airlines workers later found a 323-foot scratch made by the left wing on the runway.

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