Investigators accuse American Airlines pilots of bad takeoff

Washington (AP) —Federal agents say an American Airlines flight captain’s mistake caused the plane’s wings to clip to the ground during takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport in 2019.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the plane turned left and almost left the runway as the captain over-steered to offset the crosswind.

The pilot was able to take off, but the Airbus A321’s left wing banked down up to 37 degrees and collided with the ground and runway distance markers. Some of the markers were embedded in the wings, according to a report released Monday.

The crew knew it was a close call.

“It scared me (swearing). According to the NTSB’s cockpit voice recorder transcript, the co-pilot said the plane would float in the air.

“The (abuse) plane just rolled over me, hey,” the captain replied.

According to a Fort Worth, Texas-based airline, both pilots were 58 years old and had extensive experience at the time of the incident, but are still flying for Americans.

Safety guides all the decisions we make and the actions we take. We thank the National Transportation Safety Board for its thorough investigation and reporting, “said US spokeswoman Sarah Jantz. She said the airline is reviewing the NTSB’s report and “will scrutinize whether changes to training and procedures are needed.”

The pilot cut a short flight to Los Angeles and returned to JFK. Neither 102 passengers nor eight airline crew members were injured, according to the Safety Commission.

On the night of the flight, there was a vigorous crosswind at JFK, which was below the US limits for takeoff.

The start of takeoff looked normal, but the crew was surprised when the plane began to turn left. Both pilots didn’t seem to know what was going on.

The sound of the wings hitting the ground was captured by the cockpit recorder.

Approximately 7 minutes after the flight, the co-pilot suggested returning to JFK. One minute later, the captain agreed.

A flight attendant called and reported that a passenger sitting near the left wing said the wing “looks dented” and “doesn’t look normal.” The captain said the passengers’ reports were not a problem as the passengers returned to JFK.

The landing was safe. American Airlines workers later discovered a 323-foot-long abrasion on the runway that the left wing made, NTSB said.