U.S.Read's Flight 587
Brett Hoffstadt and Victor Trombettas
This summary, and
our full report, is the result of thousands of hours of research and
analysis by U.S.Read and dozens of aviation experts. Among them
are former NTSB Investigators, current and former airline crash
investigators, current and former crash investigators with the U.S.
Military, retired airline captains, recording systems specialists, and
Airbus A300 experts. Notwithstanding, U.S.Read's work is not an
investigation. Our access to information is limited, and we have no
access to the aircraft debris. U.S.Read's strengths lie in its
ability to consider all of the available evidence, especially evidence
that the NTSB ignored or misinterpreted, and our ability to uncover new
evidence, such as the powerful clues from the Air Traffic Control (ATC)
analysis included these areas:
• the NTSB Factual
Reports from the current docket
• the debris field
• the Marine Parkway
Bridge "tollbooth" videos
• the radar data
• eyewitness accounts
Centralized Aircraft Monitor (ECAM) audible alerts
(the cockpit warning system)
• the Digital Flight
Data Recorder (DFDR)
• the Cockpit Voice
Recorder (CVR) waveforms, transcript, and spectral studies
• the FAA ATC tapes.
Brief History of
Flight 587 was an
Airbus A300-600, Registration Number N14053. It took off from JFK
International Airport at 9:14:29 a.m. on November 12, 2001 in clear
weather conditions. Onboard were 251 passengers and 9
crewmembers. At 9:15:51.3, as the plane climbed to 2,000 feet and
was over Jamaica Bay, the pilot, First Officer (F.O.) Sten Molin,
perhaps in response to what he initially thought was potentially
dangerous wake turbulence, began a series of aggressive control inputs
while at the same time calling for the emergency "escape"
maneuver. Less than 11 seconds later, at 9:16:01.9, the strained
voice of F.O. Molin is heard on ATC saying "losing control."
airplane crashed 13 seconds later at 9:16:14.78 with the primary impact
in a residential area of Belle Harbor, Queens. The aircraft was
airborne for less than 106 seconds. All 260 persons
onboard and five additional persons on the ground were fatally
found away from the primary crash site included the vertical tail and
rudder (found in Jamaica Bay), both engines (both less than 900 feet
from the crash site), and many other pieces of aircraft debris that
were never documented by the NTSB, or that they are unaware of.
hypothesis is that the cause of the crash was the tail separating from
the fuselage, and that the tail separated because the pilot, as a
result of his rudder movements, placed loads on the tail that exceeded
it's ultimate limit. Although the NTSB has not yet released its
official statement of cause, these basic conclusions are already fixed
and shared by all of the parties to the investigation.
The raging debate between Airbus and American Airlines is––why did the
Pilot move the rudder pedals as aggressively as he did? Is it
because he was trained improperly by American Airlines (Airbus'
contention), or is it because the rudder pedal system is the most
sensitive in the industry (American Airlines' contention)?
documentation to backup this summary will be contained in our full
report, which will be released in several stand-alone sections. Part 1,
"Current NTSB Hypothesis", is included with this summary.
Preliminary Findings and Probable Cause
This is a summary of
our main findings to date and what the evidence suggests was the
probable cause of the crash:
pilot was not battling wake turbulence (although he may have thought he
was) but the effects of an event inside the aircraft, which occurred at
least 8 seconds before the tail separated.
2. The NTSB's
Human Performance Group, operating under the assumption that the pilot
was reacting to wake turbulence, stated that the turbulence was "barely
perceptible", not typical, and entirely inconsistent with the very
aggressive series of control inputs by the pilot. The pilot was
using all the controls at his disposal (roll, yaw, and pitch controls)
and called for maximum power three times in a span of only 7 seconds.
3. The vertical
tail separation came later in the crash sequence than the NTSB has
concluded, and was not the first object to depart the aircraft.
Therefore, the vertical tail separation was a consequence, not a cause,
of a crash sequence that was already underway and inevitable. This
conclusion is supported by the radar data, the ECAM system, the
tollbooth video, and the eyewitnesses––all which indicate that the
tail, and engines, departed later in the crash sequence.
initiating event was very likely an explosion or fire onboard the
aircraft that occurred no later than the time of the 2nd alleged wake
encounter––when the pilot began his aggressive control inputs. Dozens
of eyewitnesses who saw the tail separate reported an explosion or fire
which preceded tail separation.
5. In addition
to being visible to witnesses in the Bay and on land, this
explosion/fire caused unknown damage to the aircraft structure and led
to multiple system failures and electrical anomalies, including the
corruption of ATC transmissions; CVR malfunctions; disabling the rudder
and some of the spoilers; possibly responsible for the premature
interruption of all data flow to the DFDR that occurred 13 seconds
before impact; and prematurely disabling the transponder (the device on
board that transmits the plane's altitude back to the radar
facilities). All of these events, a direct result of the
initiating event, occurred before the aircraft had even begun its
descent or lost both engines.
6. Due to the
substandard debris collection and documentation by the NTSB, an
unprofessional and incomplete examination of the CVR, and other
investigative deficiencies, we do not have enough evidence to identify
the exact location, source, or cause of the explosion/fire.
witnesses provide vital clues about the crash sequence, yet the NTSB
did not conduct a thorough, intense investigation in this important
area, failing to do basic tasks such as line-of-sight measurements with
witnesses or even interviewing them at the locations where they
observed the aircraft. In fact, the NTSB had consistently
referred to the witnesses as unreliable and released witness statistics
in such a manner as to smear their collective reliability.
8. The FBI is
withholding potentially crucial, original, video evidence of the
aircraft in flight at the most critical moments, failing to release the
video to the NTSB, the families of the victims, or to U.S.Read in
response to a Freedom of Information Act request. Surveillance cameras
at a tollbooth facility at a nearby bridge captured the video
images. The NTSB felt no need to demand the original and best
quality video from the FBI.
the firmly held opinion of U.S.Read that the NTSB failed early on in
their investigation as they prematurely declared this crash an accident
and then very quickly concluded that tail separation was the initiating
event without properly analyzing all the evidence.
A retired NTSB Senior Air Safety Investigator told U.S.Read:
the case of
AA 587, the NTSB did not even lay out a wreckage trail diagram.
This is a basic procedure that is performed when any aircraft is
shedding parts, like AA 587 was doing. They did not give any credence
to the many qualified witnesses who saw AA 587 behaving differently
than what the NTSB said it was doing. To say the NTSB has botched
this investigation is an understatement."
Two hundred and
sixty-five people died in the crash of FL587. Whether it is the
2nd worst aviation accident in U.S. history, or the 2nd worst terrorist
act on U.S. soil (2nd only to 9-11), the crew of FL587, the victims and
their families, and the taxpayers, deserve a far better
(Click here to go to Part 1 of the full
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