Advanced Engineering 2018

NASA Lab to Examine Tail of Crash Plane

29 November 2001

The broken tail of an American Airlines aircraft that crashed in New York earlier this month is being transferred to a NASA research center for further examination.

The vertical fin and rudder of the Airbus A300-600 will be sent the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Langley Research Center in Virginia for tests. On Nov. 12 American Airlines flight 587 bound for the Dominican Republic slammed into a residential neighborhood shortly after taking off from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. All 260 people aboard the aircraft and five on the ground were killed.

The National Transportation Safety Board said NASA's Langley had been chosen because of its expertise in composite materials and aircraft structures. The fin and rudder, made of carbon fiber reinforced epoxy resin, appear to have come off the aircraft before the aircraft hit the ground. Investigators have said they do not yet know the cause of the crash, but have focused heavily on the tail structure and some extreme rudder movements that occurred as the aircraft passed through turbulence from a bigger plane flying miles ahead.

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