The Crash of American Airlines Flight 1420

The Crash of American Airlines Flight 1420

In 1999, a flight belonging to American airlines departed from Dallas-Forth Worth situated in Texas, two hours after the scheduled departing. On landing in Little Rock, the airline overran runway 4R. It then burst into flames after a fuel tank fire. The plane had a total of 152 people on board, and 11 of them lost their lives. During this time, the plane is said to have been under provisions of the Federal regulation and under the IFR governance.

According to NTSB and FAA’s report, the situation began going down before the plane pushed back. Usually, customers depend on airlines for timely departures, and in situations where flight delays, the whole process becomes hectic. The effect is usually the management exerting a lot of pressure on employees to get everything in order. In an interview conducted, passengers stated that it was not boarded since the flight had delayed. However, after some time, they decided to board the flight where they had to be so quick during the boarding process. During this time, the dispatch team had informed the crew that they had very little time left to take off (Daily Motion, 2003).

The National Transportation Board also reported that the accident’s main cause was the crew’s failure to discontinue the approach even after several thunderstorms had moved into the airport area. The crew had besides failed in ensuring the spoilers had extended after landing. Some of the additional aspects that contributed to the accident include impairment in the performance resulting from the crew members’ fatigue and stress derived from the pressure instilled on them to land within the speculated time. Besides, there was pressure to land even after the company’s maximum crosswind had been exceeded (LANDING. 199). Lastly, the use of reverse thrust is estimated to have been greater than 1.3 of the engine pressure ratios after the plane landed.


Several decisions needed to be made depending on the problem’s source to reduce the risk. First, the cockpit crew could have made to change the outcomes of the flight, which were, as a result, of the snowball effect.

The first step that could help in risk reduction is the company reducing the pressure it had instilled on its crew members and offering its employees support to get the flight when the weather condition was favorable. This could be of help because the employees’ pressure played a major role in the plane crash occurring even though they thought they were trying to get the plane to depart and arrive on time. The effects of instilling pressure on the crew can be seen from the fact that when the pilot got the first wind shear, they should have diverted to their alternate, but they continued. Also, in the instance where they were expected to make a diversion, the crew instead re-routed changing runways. On the other hand, once the crosswind limits were brought into question, the crew was supposed to have looked at the manual given to get clarification (LANDING, 1999).

On analyzing the case, The National Safety Board came into an agreement that the FAA oversight did not meet the required standards. Besides, the board also expressed its concerns regarding a comparable oversight in the American Airlines on different fleets. According to the safety board, FAA was required to hire more staff to help accomplish the direct oversight of the training that was supposed to be given to American Airlines and other operational flights. One problem FAA was supposed to handle was increasing the number of its staff members while mainly paying attention to the public information officer in making decisions on the type of personnel to the company. The board also stressed the need for FAA to review some of the existing oversight staffing levels in all parts of the existing careers and to make the required changes. The changes would ensure that there is effective oversight of flight training and even effective operation of flights in the future (LANDING, 1999).

The McDonnell Douglass aircraft is unique since it has ground and flight spoilers, which can be automatically operated when subjected to an auto spoiler system. Once the aircraft has landed, the pilot is expected to raise the spoiler while ensuring the spoiler is positioned on the autos pare crank arm. There are besides visible signals that should be observed by the flight crew when seeking to determine whether the spoiler system is armed. Once the aircraft has touched down, the automatic spoiler system is expected to push the spoiler handle behind just after the wheel spin-up signal or after the ground control nose oleo switches the signal nose (Daily Motion, 2003).

The various inappropriate systems given to the pilots of the tragic aircraft were not put into use either before or after the landing. This is due to the fact that the crew was not used to making decisions on whether to land or take off. The moment the crew was left with no option but to decide what was to be done, it encountered unfavorable weather conditions that resulted in losing lives. The National Transportation Board in charge of safety discovered that the accident’s cause was majorly attributed to the flight crew as they chose to discontinue the approach when they were faced with extreme weather conditions. Besides, the crew failed to ensure the spoiler touched the ground after landing (Daily Motion, 2003).

In conclusion, the case study’s tragedy is associated with many facts, with some being directly linked to the flight crew. Since crewmembers bare human beings, who need enough sleep to be effective in their work, lacking sleep can impair the way they think. The airline company has to use CRM to determine whether crew members had enough sleep before reporting to duty the following day. The type of communication in the company may be compromised to some extent because the pilot in charge of the plane was observed to be inflexible at a distance though to be 20 knots, implying that there is poor communication within the airline as the pilot was not reviewed. Mistakes like attempting to land the plane a few miles from the storm indicate how tense the crew members were. Eventually, the captain being in charge is required to take responsibility for the accident’s occurrence since he is the final decision maker in the aircraft.