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Friday, 16 November, 2001, 19:17 GMT
US orders Airbus A300 tail checks
A flag flies over the wreckage of American Airlines flight 587
All 260 people on board AA flight 587 were killed
American aviation regulators have ordered checks to be carried out on certain Airbus A300 tails following Monday's crash in New York.

The Federal Aviation Administration is requiring visual inspections around the base of the tail and examinations of rudder parts within two weeks.

American Airlines had already said that it intended to check the tailfins of all its 34 remaining Airbuses following the tragedy.

Salvage worker
The black box recorder indicated the crash was an accident

Flight data from the American Airlines plane which crashed has indicated that Flight 587 was thrown off course by twice hitting turbulence from another jet.

Investigators say the rudder of the plane shifted erratically and the aircraft careered sharply sideways seconds after the incident.

Tail and rudder suspected

As the inquiry into the cause of the accident continues, experts are increasingly focusing their investigation on what caused the tailfin and rudder of Flight 587 to shear off.

Flight investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board say the final eight seconds of the plane's flight as captured in the plane's data recorder are proving essential in the investigation.

They say the plane twice ran into turbulence, resulting in the rudder no longer sending useable information to the recorder.

The plane then shook violently and went into a steep dive before crashing.

The pilot and first officer are heard to mention a problem of turbulence in the cockpit voice recorder, which was recovered earlier this week.

The Airbus A300 plane's flight data recorder indicated that it had two "wake encounters" during its three-minute flight, said Marion Blakey, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

Flight 587 timeline
  • Departed: JFK Airport 0913 EST (1413 GMT) for Dominican Republic
  • 107 seconds after take-off rattling noise heard by pilots
  • 114 seconds: Captain reports "wake encounter"
  • 121 seconds: Second airframe rattling sound
  • 127 seconds: Control of the plane is lost
  • 144 seconds: Recording ends as plane crashes

  • "The second was similar in intensity to the first," she said.

    A Japan Air Lines Boeing 747 left from the same runway at Kennedy Airport less than two minutes before Flight 587, closer than regulations allow, said Ms Blakey.

    It is thought the remaining 56 Airbus A300s in the country belong mostly to shipping companies such as Federal Express and the United Parcel Service.

    A month ago the FAA issued a warning over the Airbus A300's engines, saying an "unsafe condition" had been found in the machinery.

    As yet, neither the FAA nor American Airlines have grounded any planes following the accident.

    The BBC's Helen Simms
    "Investigators will want to know whether it was a contributing factor"

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    See also:

    14 Nov 01 | Americas
    14 Nov 01 | Americas
    13 Nov 01 | Americas
    13 Nov 01 | Americas
    16 Nov 01 | Americas
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