Jamaica crash landing caused by pilot error, says report

Jamaica crash landing: An American Airlines jet crash landed in Jamaica, breaking into three pieces in 2009. All 154 people aboard survived the crash landing, but 14 had serious injuries, though not life-threatening. An official report says the crew botched the landing in heavy rain.

(AP Photo/Lloyd Robinson, File)
Workers sift through debris surrounding the fuselage of American Airlines flight AA331 which crash landed on Dec. 23, 2009 on a flight from Miami to Jamaica. An investigation into the plane accident concluded that pilots botched the landing and the flight crew may have been fatigued.

An investigation into a plane accident almost five years ago at a Jamaican airport has concluded that an American Airlines jet flying in from Miami botched the landing and the flight crew may have been fatigued.

On Dec. 22, 2009, an American Airlines plane overshot a rain-drenched runway at the seaside Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston and split apart after plowing through a perimeter fence and skidding across a road. The Boeing 737-823 came to rest on sand dunes and rocks a short distance from the waters of the Caribbean Sea.

The jetliner was destroyed, its fuselage broken into three sections and the right wing's tanks spilling jet fuel. All 154 people aboard survived, but 14 had serious injuries, though not life-threatening.

The Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority issued its final report on the incident this week, posting it on the agency's website Tuesday. Click here for a PDF of the report.

"The investigation involved a number of very involved processes," agency spokeswoman Ava Marie Ingram said Wednesday in explaining why it took the aviation authority so long to issue its conclusions.

Among other findings, the report said the experienced flight crew decided to land in heavy rain on a wet runway with a tail wind close to the landing limit. They were not aware of a standing water warning for the airport's runways in manuals, the investigation found.

The report found the crew did not do an adequate landing distance assessment and crossed the runway threshold 20 feet (six meters) above the ideal height, touching down farther along the runway than it should have. The report says the aircraft touched down  "4,100 feet down the runway or 1,130 feet beyond the touchdown zone, as defined by the AA flight manual." The plane bounced once, before coming down another 200 feet further down the runway. The crew jumped on the brakes but could not stop the aircraft before it went off the end of the runway.

Descending through cloud cover, the flight crew "were possibly fatigued after being on duty for nearly 12 hours, and awake for more than 14 hours," the report said.

Ingram said the report was sent to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.

American Airlines did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.


David McFadden on Twitter: http://twitter.com/dmcfadd

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