American Airlines 587

I’m always interested in reading the findings of airplane crashes. It helps me to be a better and safer pilot by analyzing what happened and why. One thing that tremendously irks me though is when a pilot is blamed for a crash when many other factors out of the pilots control or knowledge led to the aircraft accident. In this case, the co-pilot was blamed for “improperly” moving the rudder pedals back and forth on climb out from JFK airport. Perhaps swinging the pedals back and forth was not proper, but that action should not have caused the airplane to come out of the sky because of structural failure. There is this thing called a blowdown limit which is essentially a safety measure built into the design of some flight control surfaces, including the rudder. Basically it is supposed to prevent full deflections of these surfaces from reaching a structural failure point. So with this in mind, I have to assume that there was not enough representation on behalf of the pilots and they were seen as a convenient scapegoat. I’ve read several first hand accounts of what happens in those NTSB meetings. It’s basically a fight between all parties involved to shed blame, and understandably so since very costly litigation and settlement payouts hinge on what party takes the blame. People who think that the NTSB have the victims best interests at heart are sadly mistaken. The end result is largely driven by financial interests and not always the facts. Of course, much is driven by the flow of dough in the world. But, it still irks me.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.