NTSB gets final report on American Airlines crash in Little Rock

Tuesday, October 23rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The pilot of American Airlines Flight 1420 out of Dallas on June 1, 1999, was completing a 14-hour workday as he tried to land the plane in a thunderstorm. His co-pilot was working a similarly long day.

As the pilot attempted to land in Little Rock, Ark., the plane, with 145 people on board, overran the runway and went down an embankment. The crash killed 11 people, including the captain, and injured more than 100 others.

The National Transportation Safety Board is looking into whether the pilots were too tired to bring the plane down for a safe landing during a severe thunderstorm. The NTSB was considering the issue at a hearing Tuesday.

Other issues the NTSB has looked at include the flight crew's actions as it tried to land, the amount of weather information the crew had, and the weather itself.

Jim Hall, who chaired the safety board during its investigation of the crash, said that NTSB should consider recommending new rules limiting how long pilots should be allowed to work.

``Clearly, I hope the board has considered very closely the factor of fatigue,'' Hall said in an interview Monday. ``The accident occurred at the end of an extended day. Some of the decision-making obviously could have been impacted by fatigue.''

Current rules allow pilots to work 16 hours a day, eight of them actually flying a plane, but delays can extend pilots' workdays beyond the maximum so they can complete their last flight.

The crew received several warnings about the weather by air traffic controllers as the plane approached the Little Rock airport.

``We have heavy rain on the airport ... the visibility is less than a mile,'' the control tower informed the cockpit about three minutes before it was to touch down. A minute later, the tower warned of wind shear, a sudden and violent change of wind direction near the ground.