Fifteen years have passed since American Airlines flight 1420 experienced a botched landing tragically killing 10 passengers, the captain, and injuring 110 others. Thankfully, 24 passengers were uninjured, and the first officer survived. This horrific accident could have turned out much worse, but it could have also been easily avoided.
June 1st, 1999, captain Richard Buschmann and first officer Michael Origel were about to embark on their third and final leg of the day, after already working for ten hours on two other trip legs. They had arrived at Dallas/Fort Worth Texas around 20:10 CST and were eager to proceed on their final trip of the day to Little Rock, Arkansas. Poor weather in the region prevented their assigned aircraft from
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The next warning they received was 1 hour and 4 minutes after takeoff, 23:04. The Fort Worth center issued a convective SIGMET that included their destination, Little Rock, and warned of severe thunderstorms. At this point in the flight they were feeling turbulence from the weather outside, witnessing lightning, and discussed the need to get to the destination as soon as possible. At about 23:26 the pilots visually located the city of Little Rock in the distance. About 8 minutes later at 23:34 the pilots contacted the Little Rock air traffic control tower and they were once again warned about a thunderstorm nearby, along with strong winds causing a crosswind that was possibly over the company’s allowable limit. Regardless of the warnings the pilots discussed and still believed they could beat the storm, the hazardous attitude of macho taking control.
Besides the captain’s over confidence in his knowledge, neither pilot actually knew the true crosswind limits put forth by American; “The first officer testified that he had taken the manual out, but that the captain had signaled him to put the manual away because the captain was confident that the crosswind limitation was 20 knots.” This statement alone, if true, proves that the first officer was prey to the hazardous attitude of “resignation” , and the captain was prey to