American A321 at New York on Apr 10th 2019, wingtip strike and collision with runway sign during departure

Last Update: July 23, 2022 / 14:49:12 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Apr 10, 2019

Classification
Accident

Flight number
AA-300

Aircraft Registration
N114NN

Aircraft Type
Airbus A321

ICAO Type Designator
A321

Airport ICAO Code
KJFK

An American Airlines Airbus A321-200, registration N114NN performing flight AA-300 from New York JFK,NY to Los Angeles,CA (USA) with 101 passengers and 8 crew, departed JFK's runway 31L when the aircraft veered left causing the left wing tip to collide with a runway sign. The aircraft climbed out, at FL200 the crew decided to stop the climb and return to JFK advising ATC that they had encountered a strong roll to the left during departure and wanted to return to JFK. The aircraft returned to JFK for a safe landing on runway 04L about 27 minutes after departure.

The leading edge near the left wing tip showed two large dents.

A replacement Airbus A321-200 registration N113AN departed JFK for Los Angeles with a delay of about 13 hours.

The occurrence aircraft is still on the ground in New York 13 hours after landing back.

The airport authority reported the aircraft was slightly off the center line causing the aircraft to hit a sign adjacent to the runway.

According to information The Aviation Herald received on Apr 12th 2019 ground tracks reveal the aircraft was dragging its left wing tip for quite some distance on the ground, the ground tracks even suggest the aircraft came close to ground loop. The aircraft and left wing tip became airborne just ahead of the runway sign, the left wing tip impacted the sign, parts of which became embedded in the left wing tip. The wing also sustained according damage to its underside near the wingtip.

In the afternoon the FAA reported: "AMERICAN AIRLINES FLIGHT 300 AIRBUS 321 STRUCK RUNWAY SIGN AND AIRPORT LIGHT". The FAA reported no injuries and unknown damage to the aircraft.

On Apr 17th 2019 the NTSB advised they have opened an investigation into the occurrence, six investigators have been assigned to the investigation.

On Apr 17th 2019 passenger Elizabeth Lucsko posted a reader comment to The Aviation Herald's coverage reading: "I was aboard this aircraft. The take off was fast, rather quick and felt short. Then we pitched down and banked right (left wing up) and then left (right wing up) and the back felt to skid out sideways, I was in the window seat just behind the left wing. Then it felt like the pilot pulled the aircraft up manually. He continued to make very strong left and right banks while in the air before we circled back to JFK. He made an announcement that we had a major computer failure, but that he had control of the airplane and that we'll be making an emergency landing. I watched the metal flap above the wind the whole 43 mins we were in the air. The flight attendants went to the exit rows and said "this is not a drill" can you open the emergency doors to the passengers. I want to hear the audio and see the faa report. If anyone knows how long or where to look for this information that would be greatly appreciated. Thank you." The Aviation Herald contacted the passenger confirming (and producing evidence) to have been passenger of the flight. Elizabeth added that she became aware of a "black piece of metal" at the top of the wing throughout the flight following the strong right and left roll, Elizabeth felt the aircraft had already been airborne with all gear at that point.

On May 12th 2021 the NTSB released a brief preliminary report stating:

On 10 April, 2019, about 2040 EDT, American Airlines flight 300, an Airbus A321, N114NN, experienced a left roll and the left wingtip struck the ground and a runway distance marker during takeoff from runway 31L at John F. Kennedy International Airport (KJFK), Queens, New York. The flight crew safely returned to the airfield approximately 30 minutes later. There were no injuries to the 110 passengers and crew onboard and the airplane. Post flight inspection indicated the airplane was substantially damaged.

The NTSB opened an investigation into the occurrence rated an accident, but did not travel onto the scene of the accident.

On Jun 14th 2022 the NTSB released their investigation docket, no updates on the preliminary report however. In the docket the operational factors/human performance group report states:

The flightcrew stated that American Airlines had recently created new flows for the pushback and taxi phases of flight. The captain reported that during pushback he queried the FO about the trim settings to which the FO reported that those were to be done later, according to the latest guidance by the airline.

The crew selected the flaps to 1, taxied to runway 31L, and held short of the runway at taxiway kilo echo. The captain stated the taxi was “exactly the way I had done it before.” He further provided that the time from brake release after pushback until they were applying power for takeoff was approximately 15 minutes. However, he further stated that he “did not feel rushed.”

There were two other airplanes that departed before the accident flight was cleared to line up and wait. The captain taxied the airplane onto the runway, the FO noted the windsock, and reported they were legal to depart with the wind component. The captain recalled that the windsock indicated the wind was different then what the ATIS5 had reported, and the FO reported that the windsock was a “little stiffer” than what was reported.

Once the flight was cleared for takeoff, the captain reported that when going down the runway with a right crosswind he applied left rudder. He further stated that it felt as though he was using more force with his left leg, but he could not explain why other than it just seemed different.

He further stated that he kept the airplane near the centerline of the runway and at 80 knots everything was “ok.” Sometime between the V16 speed of 150 knots and rotation speed of 156 knots, the airplane made “a significant” turn to the left. The captain then stated that he was “looking at the runway edge” and knew he had to get the airplane into the air. He rotated the airplane and it began to roll to the left, he added right rudder and right aileron to try and upright the airplane and he recalled saying out loud something such as “it’s turning.” The captain recalled hearing the dual input audible alert when the FO applied sidestick input, which was the only alert he recalled.

The FO reported that when he announced “rotate” he looked up from the airspeed display and noticed the airplane was pointed about 30 degrees to the left of the runway heading and was banking approximately 30 degrees and described it as “rolling hard” and thought the airplane was going to “roll over.” He recalled that after the captain stated “I can’t control it” he grabbed his sidestick controller, applied right aileron and back pressure, and the airplane began to climb.

The captain of the flight that departed right after the accident flight7 reported that there was 10-15 knot crosswind coming from right to left of the aircraft on the runway. The flight was cleared to line up and wait and the captain recalled seeing the American Airlines flight “significantly to the left of centerline” after it became airborne; however, they did not see the accident flight rotate.

During the departure roll, their airplane was able to maintain centerline of the runway.

The flight attendants, on the accident flight, reported8 that the taxi out and the beginning of the takeoff roll was “normal.” Most of the flight attendants stated that once the airplane had lifted off it “veered to the left” or “out of control.” Several flight attendants reported that there was “significant abnormal” aircraft attitude and adjustments. They further reported that they had not felt any impact forces.

Once the airplane was climbing out the captain called for the gear to be retracted and he moved the controls and the airplane was flying as if nothing had happened. The captain hand flew the airplane until passing 10,000 feet as he was determining that the airplane was operating properly, which he deemed it was.

The cabin crew contacted the flight deck to ask what had happened and the captain informed them he would get back to them.

The captain reported that at some point the FO stated that the flight should return to the JFK. Having not considered that at the time the captain determined after conducting a selfassessment that he may not be fit for duty following the experience and commanded the FO to get a vector back to JFK.

Once the flight received an initial heading back to JFK the captain transferred control of the airplane to the FO and then the captain coordinated with the company and informed the flight attendants of the return. One of the flight attendants informed the captain that a passenger informed them of what appeared to be a “dent” in the wing. The captain then made an announcement to the passengers that they were returning to the airport.

The flight data recorder specialist report contains FDR graphs (see one below).

On Jul 23rd 2022 the NTSB released their final report concluding the probable cause of the accident was:

The captain’s excessive left rudder pedal input during the takeoff ground roll, which caused a large heading deviation and a left roll upon rotation that resulted in the left wingtip striking the ground.

The NTSB analysed:

This accident occurred when an American Airlines Airbus A321 entered a left roll during takeoff from runway 31L at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The wind at the time resulted in a 14- to 17-knot crosswind from the right, which was below the company’s 35-knot crosswind limitation. The initial takeoff roll proceeded normally, with the captain (the pilot flying) applying left rudder pedal to counter the right crosswind. The captain stated that he kept the airplane near the runway centerline and that “everything was ok” when the airplane reached 80 knots. When the airplane reached the rotation speed of 156 knots while still on the ground, the captain made a large left rudder pedal input, from 8° to 25°, during a 1.5-second timeframe. In response to this large rudder pedal input, the airplane’s heading deviated to the left, and its lateral acceleration increased to a maximum of 0.32 G.

During a postaccident interview, the captain stated the airplane made a “significant” turn to the left. The captain also stated that he was “looking at the runway edge” and knew he had to get the airplane into the air. Digital flight data recorder (DFDR) data showed that the sidestick was pulled to its full nose-up position and a right sidestick position. During the aft sidestick and right sidestick application to rotate the airplane, the rudder remained close to its full-left deflection for 3 seconds. As the nose of the airplane lifted off the ground, the airplane began to roll to the left, and the left roll rate accelerated as the main landing gear lifted off the ground, reaching a maximum of 37° left wing down as the captain moved the rudder and sidestick to full right and to full aft. These movements arrested the left roll and allowed the airplane to continue to lift off.

The large left roll angle immediately after liftoff resulted in the left wingtip striking the ground and a runway distance marker, part of which remained imbedded in the wingtip. Airbus engineering simulations performed as part of this investigation demonstrated that the several seconds of near-maximum left rudder generated a rolling moment after the gear had left the ground to impart the left roll rate that the DFDR recorded. No airplane flight control abnormalities were noted, except for a left aileron deflection as the left wingtip scraped the ground. Thus, the left roll that occurred was in response to the captain’s left rudder pedal input during rotation of the airplane. Also, Airbus’ engineering simulations demonstrated that the airplane’s deviation to the left while on the ground was in response to the captain’s rudder pedal input; no abnormalities in the airplane’s response were noted.

In addition, American Airlines conducted a study of 13 months of takeoffs and found that the accident flight had a larger heading change, roll angle, maximum commanded rudder, and duration of maximum commanded rudder than the other takeoffs in the data set. Even though the crosswind that was occurring during the accident takeoff was about one-half of the company’s 35-knot crosswind limitation, the accident airplane had a greater maximum deflection and a greater duration of input compared with all the other flights in the data set, including several flights with takeoffs that occurred with a stronger crosswind than the crosswind during the accident flight. Thus, the accident captain’s left rudder pedal input was excessive and not necessary for the crosswind that was present during the takeoff.

Related NOTAMs:
!JFK 04/160 JFK RWY 13R 9000FT DIST REMAINING SIGN MISSING 1904110725-1905250200
!JFK 04/158 JFK RWY 31L 5000FT DIST REMAINING SIGN MISSING 1904110513-1905250200

Metars:
KJFK 110151Z 35015KT 10SM SCT250 09/M02 A3002 RMK AO2 SLP166 T00891022=
KJFK 110051Z 36017KT 10SM SCT250 10/M03 A2998 RMK AO2 SLP153 T01001028=
KJFK 102351Z 33015KT 10SM FEW070 FEW250 11/M03 A2996 RMK AO2 PK WND 34026/2257 SLP145 T01111028 10161 20111 53034=
KJFK 102251Z 34018G26KT 10SM FEW070 FEW250 13/M02 A2992 RMK AO2 PK WND 36026/2244 SLP133 T01281017=
KJFK 102151Z 31016G25KT 10SM FEW070 FEW250 14/M02 A2989 RMK AO2 PK WND 33027/2102 SLP120 T01441017=
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Apr 10, 2019

Classification
Accident

Flight number
AA-300

Aircraft Registration
N114NN

Aircraft Type
Airbus A321

ICAO Type Designator
A321

Airport ICAO Code
KJFK

This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
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