WASHINGTON (CN) – Investigation into the 2001 crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in New York, which killed everyone on the plane and five people on the ground, revealed that pilots may misunderstand that the stabilizer keeping the plane upright can break off when the plane is maneuvered too much.
The Federal Aviation Administration determined that the probable cause of the crash was “the first officer’s unnecessary and excessive rudder pedal inputs,” on take-off, according to a notice of proposed rulemaking addressing the issue.
Pilots know that a plane cannot make a full movement in more than one direction at a time, above certain speeds, called the “design maneuvering speed” or “VA”. The FAA has found that many pilots do not realize that the same is true at lower speeds.
The FAA plans to amend airworthiness standards and advisories for passenger planes to clarify this “widespread misunderstanding,” at the recommendation of the National Transportation Safety Board.
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