Tuesday, December 22, 2009

American Airlines Boeing 737 crash in Jamaica

by B. N. Sullivan

American AirlinesA Boeing 737-800 aircraft (registration N977AN) operated by American Airlines has crashed in Jamaica. According to a statement from the airline, Flight AA 331 overran the runway on landing at Kingston, Jamaica's Norman Manley International Airport late on the evening of Tuesday, December 22, 2009. The flight had originated at Reagan/National Airport in Washington, DC, operating first to Miami International Airport, and then continuing on to Jamaica from Miami. On board were six crew members and 148 passengers.

News reports from Jamaica say that as many as 40 people may have been injured in the accident. A local official told the Jamaica Observer that the injured had been transported to Kingston Public Hospital.

Jamaican media are reporting that it was raining at the time of the accident.

More details to follow as more information becomes available.

UPDATE: News articles on several Web sites are quoting an American Airlines spokesman who says that the aircraft's fuselage was cracked, its number two engine separated from the wing, and the left main landing gear collapsed. It is unclear whether this damage occurred before or after the aircraft left the runway. Jamaican news sources report that the aircraft came to a rest against the airport perimeter fence.

UPDATE Dec. 23, 2009: In a statement issued early this morning, American Airlines confirmed that two passengers had been hospitalized for observation and treatment, while all other passengers that had been taken to local hospitals were treated and released. The statement did not mention any injuries to crew members.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has dispatched a team to assist the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority with the investigation of this accident. The NTSB team includes technical advisors from the Federal Aviation Administration, American Airlines, Boeing, GE Aircraft Engines, in addition to the NYSB's own aviation specialists.

A collection of still photos from the scene of the AA331 accident has been posted on CNN's iReport.

The video below, with raw footage of the accident scene last night, was posted on the Associated Press (AP) channel on YouTube.

If the video does not play or display properly above, click here to view it on YouTube.