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Pilot and Plane Blamed For Flight 587 Crash

New York Post | October 26 2004

FLASHBACK: November 2001 New York Plane Crash Was Terrorist Attack Says 'Al-Qaeda' Operative

Federal probers will reportedly blame both an American Airlines pilot and the designers of his Airbus plane for the crash of Flight 587, which plunged into a Queens neighborhood in 2001, killing all 260 on board and five people on the ground.

The National Transportation Safety Board will receive a staff report today and may vote on its findings, the Washington Post reported.

The crash of the Dominican Republic-bound flight into Belle Harbor occurred shortly after takeoff when the Airbus A300-600 encountered turbulence caused by an earlier flight, snapping off the tail.

Why that happened has been the subject of investigation — and intense lobbying. American Airlines has argued that Airbus hid evidence of previous malfunctions of rudders on the same models.

"It's easy to focus on what started the sequence of events" that led to the crash, said American spokesman Bruce Hicks. "Airbus never told safety investigators about previous incidents."

But NTSB staff will still blame the co-pilot of Flight 587, Sten Molin, whose back-and-forth pressure on the rudder foot pedals was partly responsible for the tail detachment, the paper reported.

Airbus denied that it had been secretive about rudder problems. The European manufacturer claimed it told American Airlines in 1997 that the airline had wrongly trained its pilots to be aggressive in their use of the rudder.

The board's decision could be used in lawsuits filed by relatives of victims. American said 70 percent of the suits have been settled.

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