American Airlines Flight 1572

Infobox Airliner accident|name=American Airlines Flight 1572
Date=November 12, 1995
Type=CFIT
Site=Windsor Locks, Connecticut
Fatalities=0
Injuries=1
Aircraft Type=McDonnell Douglas MD-83
Operator=American Airlines
Tail Number=N566AA
Passengers=73
Crew=5
Survivors =78 (all)|(all)

American Airlines Flight 1572, registration N566AA, was a McDonnell Douglas MD-83 en route from Chicago O'Hare to Hartford's Bradley International Airport on November 12, 1995. The flight departed O'Hare over 90 minutes late due to bad weather and delayed connecting passengers. En route the flight received an ACARS printout for the weather at Hartford. It noted altimeter setting of 29.42" adding that pressure was falling rapidly in the area. Before making their final approach they were further advised of a wind shear warning and severe thunderstorms for Hartford. Winds were now out of 170° at 29 knots gusting to 39. The First Officer checked the ATIS automated weather broadcast for Hartford which reported an altimeter setting of 29.40". For reasons unknown he entered this as 29.47" on the altimeter causing it to read approximately 70' low. The Captain checked the weather radar before beginning the non precision approach to runway 15. It showed no convective cells on their path and he turned it off. As flight 1572 began its final approach they were advised that the control tower was closing temporarily due to severe weather buckling a window inside the cab. The tower supervisor remained behind to assist the flight. The Captain noticed the autopilot was having difficulty maintaining altitude and heading in the buffeting winds. Five miles from the airport the plane encountered heavy rain and some turbulence. The flight continued descending to 908' the minimum descent altitude (MDA) for the approach. This was likely 838' due to the incorrect altimeter setting. As they began searching for the airport the plane continued descending.

Crash

At some point during the descent, the sink rate alarm went off immediately followed by a loud thump as the plane began shearing off treetops along Park Mountain Ridge. It was later estimated the plane was at 770' elevation at this point. The Captain advanced the throttles full but the trees had been ingested into the engines causing them to flame out and shut down. The Captain immediately lowered flaps to 40° hoping it would momentarily cause the plane to "balloon" upwards. While not standard operating procedure it worked to a limited extent until the plane clipped a tree near the end of the runway. The plane then impacted the runway 33 ILS antenna equipment at the approach end of runway 15 before rolling to a stop with only one minor passenger injury.

NTSB Investigation

The NTSB investigation cited several causes for this accident. It faulted the FAA for designing the approach to runway 15 without taking the ridgeline into consideration. The new approach, which factors in the terrain, has increased the MDA to 1,320'. However they cited pilot error as the primary cause due to an incorrect altimeter setting combined with the crew's failure to level off at the MDA. The report also noted since pressure was falling rapidly the crew should have requested a more recent altimeter from the tower - the ATIS broadcast is normally updated hourly. While turbulence, heavy rain and wind shear affected the plane the crew continued to allow the plane to descend while searching for the airport.

The cockpit voice recording of the incident became part of the script of a play called "Charlie Victor Romeo."

External links

* [http://www.ntsb.gov/publictn/1996/AAR9605.pdf NTSB Report on American Airlines Flight 1572]
* [http://aviation-safety.net/investigation/cvr/transcripts/cvr_aa1572.php CVR transcript American Airlines Flight 1572]


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