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Flight 587 crash
Diagram showing burning engine
  • Safety officials have not confirmed that turbulence caused the plane’s 27 foot tall tail fin to shear off the aircraft.

  • For a tail fin to have come away from a plane is extremely rare

  • The fin was made from a composite of plastic and reinforced carbon

  • The tail assembly had been repaired by the manufacturer before the Airbus was delivered to American Airlines in 1988

  • The plane's right (number two) engine was nearly due for a full overhaul

  • The left (number one) engine had been serviced recently

  • The airbus was equipped with two General Electric GE.N CF680C2 series engines
Part of an engine from the aircraft
Part of the engine found outside a petrol station
Disaster strikes

The cockpit voice recorder has shown that the plane’s air frame made two sets of rattling noises, the first one minute 47 seconds after take-off, the next 14 seconds later.

The recording ended after two minutes 24 seconds as the plane crashed. The other black box, the flight data recorder, cut out 20 seconds before the plane hit the ground.

Flight 587 rode the turbulence from the Japanese jumbo for the first time 28 seconds before the flight data recorder stopped working and then again eight seconds before it broke down.

After analysing its evidence, investigators believe that the tail remained on the plane until after it was shaken by the Japanese jumbo’s slipstream for the second time.

What is certain, however, is that the plane began shaking violently after passing through the second wake effect.

The crew then lost control of the plane. They would not have been aware that the tail had come loose.

Both the twin engines are also believed to have broken-off the Airbus before impact.

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