Airbus, airline react to NTSB findings

 - December 14, 2007, 7:21 AM

American Airlines and the copilot of Flight 587 are officially being blamed for the November 2001 crash of an Airbus A300 after the vertical tail separated in flight seconds after takeoff. More than 260 people were killed when the airliner fell into a New York City neighborhood. In its final report, the NTSB blamed the copilot for “unnecessary and excessive rudder inputs” (after the aircraft encountered wake turbulence) that created aerodynamic loads “beyond the ultimate design strength of the vertical stabilizer.” The Safety Board said the “high sensitivity” of the airplane’s rudder control system “is susceptible to potentially hazardous rudder pedal inputs at higher speeds,” and recommended the design be modified. The Safety Board also criticized American Airlines’ pilot training, as well as Airbus for not fully disclosing safety information. Airbus denies it didn’t sufficiently disseminate warnings about rudder sensitivity, but contends that the sensitivity had nothing to do with the accident because the copilot applied tremendous pressure to the rudder pedals. Airbus also denies American Airlines’ contention that it failed to disclose vital safety data, and said it told the airline several times it was training pilots improperly.