FORT WORTH, Texas - American Airlines issued the following statement Tuesday following the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) report on the probable cause of the Flight 1420 accident at Little Rock, Ark., on June 1, 1999:
The NTSB’s determination that part of the probable cause of this accident was the crew’s inadvertent failure to arm the spoilers in flight or manually deploy them after landing is consistent with the opinions of American Airlines and Boeing, as well as other parties to the investigation. The NTSB concluded that the lack of spoiler deployment was the single most important factor in the flight crew’s inability to stop the accident airplane within the available runway length. In other words, the spoilers would have prevented this accident if they had been deployed.
American has made many changes in its policies and procedures to ensure that this type of accident does not occur again. As a leader in aviation safety, American did not wait for the NTSB to publish its final report before making changes, which include new procedures on arming the spoilers and confirming their deployment.
In June 2000, American made substantial changes in defining a stabilized approach in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The NTSB’s recommendation, however, is that the FAA define to all carriers detailed parameters for stabilized approaches and criteria indicating when a missed approach should be performed. American will certainly comply with any new FAA criteria.
As to the NTSB’s determination regarding continuation of the approach, there is no doubt that adverse weather was in or near the airport area when Flight 1420 landed. However, the runway was visible, and the crew did land the aircraft in the runway touchdown zone, slightly right of the centerline, and at an acceptable approach speed.
Also, it is important to note that, in the board’s conclusions, during the descent into the terminal area, the flight crewmembers could have reasonably believed that they could reach the airport before the thunderstorm.
And because the first officer was able to maintain visual contact with the runway as the airplane was vectored for the final approach course, both flight crewmembers might still have believed that Flight 1420 could arrive at the airport before the thunderstorm.
As to the board’s discussion on crew fatigue and situational stress, American has a no-fault fatigue policy in which any pilot may refuse to fly a flight segment without any questions or repercussions from American Airlines. Safety is and will continue to be our No. 1 priority.
In the spring of 2001, American teamed with Dr. Mark Rosekind, a world renowned expert on sleep and fatigue who helped develop programs for NASA’s space program. Rosekind and American developed a comprehensive program on fatigue and alertness management and, on Sept. 1, this program, which exceeds what all other carriers in the industry are doing, was made part of recurrent training and mandatory for all American Airlines pilots.