American Airlines Scrapping Plane Involved In JFK “Incident”

Filed Under: American

It looks like an American Airlines plane involved in an April 2019 incident will officially never fly again…

What happened to this American Airlines A321?

On April 10, 2019, a pretty terrifying incident happened on American Airlines flight AA300 from New York to Los Angeles. The flight was operated by an Airbus A321 that was built in 2014, with the registration code N114NN.

Long story short, the plane “rolled” to the left as it took off, causing the left wing to hit something during takeoff. However, the pilots didn’t realize it for quite a while — as the plane passed through 20,000 feet, the pilots informed air traffic control of their intention to return to the airport.

As the pilots described it to the controller, the plane “had a strong roll to the left,” and the plane was fine but they just wanted to “return to Kennedy to have them check it out.” In the meantime the crew informed passengers that they were returning to the airport because there was a computer malfunction.

If you want to hear the air traffic control audio of the incident, you can do so here:

This Airbus A321 will be scrapped

As reported by @xJonNYC, the American A321 involved in this incident will never fly again. Some of the plane parts will be removed and reused, while the rest of the plane will be scrapped.

In late 2019 American Airlines had confirmed to me that the NTSB was still investigating the incident, and that the intent was for the plane to eventually return to service.

American has been tight-lipped about this incident, so it’s unknown how exactly the decision to scrap the plane came about, or what was determined:

  • Did it take nearly 15 months to come to the conclusion that the plane couldn’t be repaired economically?
  • Did coronavirus play a part in the decision to just scrap the plane, since American is retiring many planes anyway?

One thing is for sure — clearly this incident was much more serious than many people had assumed at the time.

This is quite a contrast to the Delta 757 that had a very rough landing in the Azores in August 2019. Due to the amount of damage to the fuselage, many speculated that the plane would never fly again. However, the plane was able to be ferried back to the US just over a month after the incident, and by December 2019 it was back in service.


The fuselage of a Delta 757 was seriously damaged

Bottom line

In April 2019 an American Airlines Airbus A321 had an incident departing JFK, whereby the plane banked left during takeoff, and struck something. The plane returned to JFK, and initially it seemed like this wasn’t a huge deal.

However, that wasn’t the case. The plane has been out of service for 15 months, and will now be scrapped.

Unfortunately we haven’t learned many other details about what exactly happened to cause this incident.

Are you surprised to see American Airlines scrapping this plane?

Comments
  1. @Gene

    You’re not going to tell them really what happened. Think of the panic that would ensue. Is it scary? Duh. But realistically telling passengers “We hit something on the wing” is a masterclass in mass hysteria.

  2. @Gene, what a dumb comment. If you were a passenger on that plane, (or any with the need to return to the airport) would you have rather the pilot say “hey folks, we hit something on takeoff when the plane rolled to one side and so we’re going back”?

  3. @ shoeguy — So, returning to Kennedy just to “check it out” is supposed to reassure passengers? If the issue was so benign, why not just continue to the final destination? My comment was not dumb, but insulting me is.

  4. @Geneis completely right on this. Even if you don’t hand passengers the whole story, you don’t lie to them.

  5. From the cockpit, they might have actually had a warning from the computer that didn’t make sense with the control of the aircraft. Until after landing, they may not have noticed the strike until after they landed.

    I am going out on a limb that the damage was less structural and more system related that would cost more to fix (aka, new computer verse new flap).

  6. Yes Gene, Your Comment was Stupid and if You cannot handle the criticism or get easily Offended TFB! The Pilots will never disclose All the Details of an Emergency any more than Police,Fire or Hospital Personnel would tell You about a Crisis or developing situation. Too Many Arm chair Quarterbacks, Know it Alls that KNOW NOTHING and People that Interfere and want to Take Selfies or Act like a Reporter on The Scene. (There is a Reason they With hold Information….it is because of People Like You !). Don’t like It….Live in Your Bubble.

  7. @Gene is right. The communication should be honest but doesn’t have to be complete. Say “out of an abundance of caution we are returning” rather than making up a reason.

  8. I can’t believe there are people on here saying that the pilots should have told the passengers the full truth. People: no way should the pilot have told the passengers that they “hit something.” A computer malfunction was the perfect response. Telling them they hit something would have been a complete disaster onboard.

  9. @ roger — I did not say anything about disclosing full details. I simply said that hey shouldn’t have lied.

  10. Ben, any thoughts on how one gets the pilots to fly broken planes – esp. the Delta one from Azores to the States – the crew must be scared – what if the plane just break apart in-flight? How do they get to do it?

  11. @Apu-Aircraft that are “broken” are inspected,for Airworthiness & then in conjuction with the Master Minimum Equipment List,given a ferry permit by the controlling Civil aviation Authority which enables the aircraft to be flown to a maintenance facilty in order to be repaired. Bear in mind ,the aircraft can still have major defects ,but deemed airworthy for a ferry flight.Frequently repairs are carried out in situ,in order to get the aircraft airworthy,to be able to ferry it.

    With regards to the 15 months that have elapsed since the accident, that may have been down to disagreements between the insurers & lessors( I believe American’s A321’s are leased)over the cost of repairs.

  12. Can you please keep us in the loop on this? Very concerning that, we still have no information or further details on this.

  13. Get off Gene’s back. He is right. Without full knowledge of the issue, Americans continue to disregard necessary precautions. We just need to look at today and how Covid precautions are taken. Tough guy Americans think they are invincible, too much Rambo and John Wayne I guess. If they are aware there is structural damage they just might take the pilots and FA advice on landing. You worry about hysteria from hearing the truth? They going to jump out?

  14. The made the right decision while the aircraft was in flight. Calling it an “issue” would have been better than calling it a computer malfunction, but they didn’t have time to refine their messaging while the incident was in progress.

    American, however, should have been more forthcoming about the incident after the aircraft was on the ground, the NTSB investigation was opened, and the lessor and insurer got involved. Delta handled the communications about their 757 incident much better.

  15. @ray, think you’re comment is more idiotic than @gene.

    The pilots turned back, landed the plane safely amid a then unknown incident. The safety of everyone on board is crucial and the pilots did the right thing, disclosing what they did, and when and how they did it, until the plane was back on the ground. The fact that this is even being debated is absurd.

  16. Probably stayed quiet about it for fear that this would be categorised as a hull loss incident, and consequent impact on their safety stats. Quietly writing it off a couple of years later, maybe it’s not counted.
    QANTAS spend 100 million repairing a 60 million 747 after it crash-landed at DMK in a Bangkok thunderstorm and ended up on a golf course…simply to avoid the hull loss stigma.

  17. Being a passenger on the plane, the pilot announced major computer malfunction. Anybody on the left side of the plane that looked out the window could see the light pole imbedded in the wing. I was on the other side of the plane and did not know that. From what I was told passengers on the plane told the stewardess who in turn relayed it to the pilot. At the time of the announcement, I don’t think the pilot knew he had hit something. His announcement caused chaos regardless if true or not. Everybody was scared for their life even though he said he had control.

  18. @Gene it’s possible that the pilots didn’t realize they had hit anything until they landed. All the pilots knew was they had a string uncommanded roll during takeoff, which could very well be an issue with the fly-by-wire and as such, computers. So in the pilots view, it may very well have been a computer malfunction.

  19. @Allen Greer wrote:

    “Being a passenger on the plane, the pilot announced major computer malfunction.”

    This is a primo example of Why Grammar Matters, dude.

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