- On Monday, November 12, 2001 American Airlines Airbus
A300 Flight 587 crashed and burned, just two minutes and 24 seconds after
take off from JFK International Airport in New York City. Within minutes
the speculation for the cause ran from aircraft failure to terrorist attack.
Immediately, both the FBI and the NTSB began a formal investigation. The
NTSB was in charge of investigating the crash and the FBI would take over
if evidence of sabotage were found. So far, the investigators have eliminated
a number of possible theories, such as birds damaging the engines, simple
engine failure, or possible bomb or missile attacks.
- On Tuesday, the 13th, during the NTSB press conference,
one of the reporters asked, "What about the possibility of a thrust
reverser failure?" The reporters were told there was no evidence of
that and its not possible for that to occur during flight. What the NTSB
and FBI failed to tell the reporters is that it is not possible for there
to be a thrust reverser failure in flight, UNLESS the thrust reverser controls
were sabotaged by a terrorist. Instead, the investigation seems to focus
on the possibility that wake turbulence from a 747 jumbo jet which had
taken off just minutes before Flight 587 had caused the damage to the plane
and caused the crash.
- What is confusing to most knowledgeable aircraft investigators
is that this is completely impossible. It is not possible for any type
of turbulence to rip off the tail of an airplane, and then have it go out
of control in such a way that both engines would also fall off. In August
1985 a Japanese Boeing 747 with the vertical tail assembly completely torn
away continued to fly in large circles for over half an hour before it
hit a mountain. But only because the pilots were busy trying to figure
out what happened to the plane and did not watch where they were going.
It did not go into an instant out of control spin with complete loss of
- The Air Force's B-2 Flying Wing stealth bomber is a perfect
example to prove that a plane with absolutely NO vertical fin or stabilizer
is able to fly and does not instantly become unstable and crash. The B-2
uses modern "fly-by-wire" computers to keep the plane flying
straight and level. The original flying wing design from the 1950's also
flew but using manual flight controls made it rather difficult to steer
with no rudder. The Airbus A300 uses a modern "fly-by-wire" computer
system and would fly quite easily with complete loss of the vertical fin
and rudder. The NTSB's claim that the loss of Flight 587's vertical fin
and rudder might be the cause of the loss of the control of the plane which
caused it to crash is both misleading and deceptive.
- Any theory blaming the failure of the vertical fin and
rudder assembly as the cause cannot account for why the engines would fall
off the plane. Any theory blaming an engine failure as the cause cannot
account for why the tail assembly would snap off cleanly with no appearance
of blast damage from an exploding engine. Thus there would need to be three
separate simultaneous failures, of the tail assembly and both pylons holding
the engines on the plane to account for those three effects observed before
the plane crashed. Most air accident investigators would easily conclude
that the chances of three simultaneous airframe failures all occurring
at the same time is not probable. It must be one or the other but not all
three. It would be much easier to conclude that something else actually
caused all three failures. Thus the breaking off of the tail and both engines
is not the cause of the crash, but is the effect of some other single failure
which caused the crash. And what would that be?
- If the left engine thrust reverser had either partially
or completely actuated during flight, it would cause the plane to go into
a flat spin to the left. The airplane would spin something like a flat
Frisbee with the right engine pushing forward and the left engine pushing
backwards. Within a second of the flat spin occurring, the sideways wind
blast would rip off the tail assembly since it was never designed to take
such a side blast of air.
- As soon as the tail assembly broke off there is now very
little wind resistance to the flat spin. At this point the engines would
cause the aircraft to spin even faster with the g-forces away from the
center of the spin becoming so great that both engines would be violently
ripped off the wings and thrown outward away from the plane. This accounts
for why the engines were found so far away from the crash site and why
the tail came off first. Thus a single point failure, the in-flight actuation
of the left engine thrust reverser, can account for all three observed
phenomena of the clean breaking off of the tail and the failure of both
engine pylons holding the engines. But how can that happen when there are
so many safety devices to ensure that it never occurs?
- That is quite simple. The American Airlines Airbus was
parked overnight in preparation for its flight to Santo Domingo the next
morning. During the night, a terrorist saboteur disguised as a ground crew
mechanic could reach up in the back of the left jet engine and with a pair
of diagonal cutter pliers simply cut the hydraulic line going to the thrust
reverser actuator and the control safety sensor lines. The next morning
about an hour after the jet engines were started, the hydraulic fluid now
under pressure would drip from the cut line until none was left in the
line and the thrust reverser would simply slowly drift into the full on
condition while in flight and a catastrophic crash would occur only seconds
- Until September 11th, 2001, nobody would have believed
that 19 airplane hijackers armed only with box cutters could bring down
both towers of the World Trade Center. But now we know better. Is it now
so hard to believe that a single terrorist armed with a pair of pliers
could bring down an A300 Airbus? This is called "asymmetric warfare,"
or "thinking outside the box," or simply using low-tech tools
in a new way to destroy the high-technology of an advanced culture.
- Is it possible to show that the in-flight actuation of
the left thrust reverser is the actual cause of the Flight 587 Crash? Yes.
But you would probably ask, "How do you know such things?" First,
I have been a pilot since 1962. I have put planes in almost every possible
flight configuration. I am not a flight instructor, but for years I taught
ground school classes in airframes, aircraft engines and air navigation.
Second, I have degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering and physics,
and for many years I was assigned to do failure analysis for many NASA
Space Shuttle incidents.
- In 1983, two communications satellites were left useless
in low-orbit because the firing mechanism to launch them into hi-orbit
failed. Several years later Shuttle flights recaptured the failed satellites
and I was tasked to determine the cause of the failure. In three days of
analysis I found the cause and the controls were redesigned and the failure
never occurred again.
- In 1987, the Air Force was launching a secret satellite
from the Shuttle using a Boeing supplied launch system. The actuators for
the launch system were made by UTC. Final checks before launch showed that
one of the actuators appeared to be faulty and had failed the initial tests
at UTC but somehow had been installed into the Shuttle anyway. My task
was to prove that the actuator was not faulty but only appeared faulty
due to an improper testing device. In four days I found the faulty test
device and proved the launch actuator was in fact ready for space flight.
- I did my usual scientific analysis "dog and pony
show" for two Air Force Generals, and the Vice-presidents of both
Boeing and UTC. Everybody was happy. The Air Force got their satellite
on orbit on schedule. The VPs from Boeing and UTC were happy since they
did not need to pay the $5 million penalty the government would assess
for unstacking the Shuttle to replace the "defective" launch
actuator and for delaying the project. Thus, what I am about to explain
comes from many years of flight experience, along with years of experience
in aerospace failure analysis.
- According to the publicly available information from
the NTSB, the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) shows everything was normal
in the flight until about 107 seconds after the initial run-up of the engines
as Flight 587 began to roll down the runway for takeoff. At this point
in time the plane is about 3,000 feet in the air and the sound of an "airframe
rattle" is heard in the CVR record. No explanation was given for this
noise. But as I propose, what was happening was the left thrust reverser
was starting to close and this caused the plane to turn to the left. The
pilot would compensate by using his feet to apply right rudder to bring
the nose back to straight flight by turning to the right.
- When applying strong right rudder this usually causes
the left wing to tilt upward so most pilots would instinctively also apply
opposite or left aileron to keep the plane straight and level. Most pilots
would recognize this flight configuration as a side-slip. This would be
a rather strange maneuver for a commercial airliner especially during take
off. This is often called the "poor mans air-brakes" since this
odd configuration results in the opposite compensating controls surfaces
to stick out in the wind and really slow down the aircraft.
- I have done this maneuver many times in small aircraft
to quickly lose airspeed or drop in altitude in preparation for landing.
During this condition the burbling air flowing over the extended control
surfaces makes a lot of noise and seems to make the plane shake, rattle
and roll. This would account for the airframe rattle noise heard on the
CVR at 107 seconds into the flight. The pilot probably thought he had overcompensated
and was worried about losing too much airspeed and so then returned the
controls back to normal and the rattling momentarily stopped. But the plane
continued to turn back to the left.
- Seven seconds later, one of the flight crew comments
about "air turbulence" with no further comment, and it would
seem the pilot again tried to compensate for the strong drift of the plane
to the left caused by the partially closing thrust reverser by again applying
strong right rudder and opposite aileron as the same rattling sound is
heard again several seconds later at 121 seconds into the flight. Four
seconds later, at 125 seconds into the flight, the first officer calls
for "full power" presumably to compensate for the side-slip maneuvers
which had really slowed the plane down to dangerously slow speed. This
was a fatal mistake, but not caused by the pilot.
- As soon as the power went to full, the spinning effect
caused by the partially or fully actuated thrust reverser would cause the
plane to now spin out of control in a flat spin. Two seconds later, at
127 seconds, the CVR shows one of the flight crew makes a comment about
being out of control. No more comments are made after that and the recording
ends 17 seconds later when the plane hits the ground. But what happened
when the captain called for full power?
- If the pilot were holding full right rudder and almost
full left aileron to compensate just as the left thrust reverser came into
the full on position, the application of full power would have greatly
increased the turn to the left and would have created a huge side force
on the tail and rudder assembly which simply broke off cleanly and fluttered
away. Within another second, without the vertical tail assembly to slow
the spin, the plane would have begun to spin violently to the left about
the center of gravity of the airplane. It now was not an airplane but a
giant spinning Frisbee, or maybe a giant horizontal boomerang. Yes, you
can take a scale model airplane and holding one wing throw it like a boomerang
and make it fly. I know, since I used to do that as a kid. It works. A
modern swept-wing jet aircraft with the tail torn off is simply a boomerang
with a large stick, the passenger cabin, stuck in the middle.
- Since the pilot had been holding opposite or left aileron,
as soon as the plane started to spin, the left wing would be going backwards.
But with the left aileron in the upward position the left wing becomes
a lifting surface which keeps the spinning plane level, since both wings
are lifting. The plane is now spinning horizontally with the full power
from both engines increasing the spin faster and faster until both engines
break off and are flung sideways away from the plane. As soon as the tail
assembly broke away and the spin started, the plane became like one of
those spinning centrifuges used by the astronauts for testing at high g-forces.
- Within a second or so the people at the front and back
of the plane were being thrown violently away from the center of the plane
with a tremendous force. The seats with passengers in the very back of
the plane were probably ripped out of the floor and thrown to the back
of the plane. The flight crew at the front of the plane were thrown violently
forward with such g-force they were instantly rendered unconscious or killed.
This would explain why no more comments from the flight crew are heard
after applying full power. The plane was spinning horizontally to the left
completely out of control.
- With the engines still running at full power, they broke
away ripping the fuel tanks in both wings and Fight 587 became a flaming
Frisbee. Something which nobody, and especially none of the people who
witnessed the accident, had ever seen before. Small pieces of the airframe
along with the engines were thrown by centrifugal force away from the flaming
plane, giving the appearance of an explosion blasting parts away.
- This also accounts for the many strange witness reports.
I watched the news channels live and heard many witnesses swear that they
saw the left engine come off first. Many other witnesses also were just
as sure that the right engine was the first to come off. How to account
for these strange opposite reports? Simply, all those witnesses had never
seen a plane in a flat spin before.
- In a flat spin most of the plane's forward motion is
stopped and the plane is like a spinning flaming Frisbee floating in the
air. The flames hid the shape of the plane and the witnesses could not
see the plane spinning, they only saw a ball of fire with pieces of plane
blasting out from the center. At that point the concept of right or left
engine no longer has any meaning, they are both going in the same circle.
Thus depending on where the witness observer was standing when the first
engine dropped off, half of the people would see it as going to the right
and the other half would see it as going to the left. Thus both groups
of observers were correct in reporting what they saw, they only misinterpreted
what it meant.
- There were even professional pilots who reported they
saw the plane in a "spinning nose dive." Is it possible that
they were also mistaken? Is it possible the plane was not in a nose dive
but was actually spinning flat with one wing going backwards, all caused
by a thrust reverser actuated in flight? Since the other pilots reported
they saw a flaming spinning plane arcing into the ground, and since they
too probably had never seen a plane in a flat spin, they simply assumed
what they saw was a spinning plane nosing into the ground. Is it possible
to prove that it was not a plane nose-diving into the ground but a flat
spin caused by a terrorist? Yes.
- When the plane began the flat spin right after the tail
assembly broke off over Jamaica Bay, the passengers in the front and back
of the plane would experience high g-forces which threw them to the front
and back of the plane. But those passengers in the center of the plane
between the two engines and over the wings would simply spin around with
no lateral g-forces. They would just spin around similar to sitting and
spinning on a rotating piano stool. For them the plane simply floated downward
as they rotated. What would happen to them? According to a statement made
by New York mayor Giuliani in a news conference on Wednesday November 14th,
the rescue workers recovered 262 bodies including "a man still holding
a baby." How is that possible if the plane had nose-dived into the
- A nose dive into the ground would have produced such
a violent forward force that all objects in the plane would have been thrown
forward with most of the seats ripped out of the floor. Certainly no man
can be strong enough to hold on to a baby through that force, unless instead
the plane was in a flat spin. For the passengers in the center of the plane
the force would have been downward as the plane hit the ground and the
baby would be simply forced deeper into the man's lap as he sat in the
passenger seat. Is that sufficient evidence to prove the plane was in a
flat spin at impact with the earth and the crash was caused by a thrust
reverser being actuated in flight? Yes. It could not have been a forward
- Further evidence is shown by the fact that on the many
live news videos of the crash scene as the firemen are putting out the
flames, a large section of the central portion of the plane is lying on
the ground almost intact but in flames. If the flaming spinning Frisbee
of Flight 587 had impacted the ground in a flat spin the front and back
ends of the plane would have impacted with high rotating speed and thrown
pieces of the plane, including the Flight Data Recorder in the rear of
the plane many blocks away. But the center of the plane would be left intact.
Analysis of the debris field would show material from the front of the
plane went in one direction while material from the back of the plane went
in the opposite direction.
- Is there clear evidence for sabotage by a terrorist?
Yes. But it seems the FBI does not want to know. Maybe the airlines, especially
American Airlines, do not want anybody to know they are so easily vulnerable
to terrorist attack. For whatever reason, it seems the NTSB and the FBI
do not want to know what happened to Flight 587. The clear evidence for
the flat spinning impact is shown by the condition of the passengers and
seats in the front and rear of the plane compared to the conditions in
the almost intact center portion of the plane.
- Is the NTSB going to reassemble the plane parts to investigate
that? According to NTSB Chairman Marion Blakey in the news conference on
Tuesday the 13th, the NTSB was not going to reassemble the plane for analysis.
The two engines are being sent under sealed bonded cover to American's
Tulsa, Okla. facility for disassembly and analysis. But it would seem the
engines were not the cause of the crash, so that is an investigative dead
end. The real evidence, the conditions of the cabin and fuselage which
would show and prove the plane crashed while in a flat spin, is simply
going to be carted away and tossed in the trash. The FBI will never find
the terrorist who caused the crash, if they are not looking for one.
- Marshall Smith Editor, BroJon Gazette
- NEW FLIGHT DATA RECORDER UPDATE NOV. 17, 2001
- The above article was prepared and written based only
on data from the Cockpit Voice Recorder. The NTSB has since then released
data from the Flight Data Recorder showing the position of controls and
configuration of the aircraft. It is entirely consistent with the above
analysis, including the turns to the left, right, left, right with the
"rattling" occurring during the two turns to the right. Followed
quickly by the loss of the vertical tail assembly, then the rapid break
into a flat spin.
- The FDR data shows: " ... the Airbus began a series
of oscillations, yawing from left to right, then back again. Seconds later,
the data stream from the Airbus's rudder 'becomes unreliable,' (meaning
it had torn off) ... the jet began rolling to its left side ... the flight
data recorder shows the Airbus rolled 25 degrees to the left, even though
the pilots applied full-right roll control. The recorder also shows the
jet dropped into a 30-degree dive, and began revolving rapidly toward the
- Note, it does not say it "began rolling rapidly"
to the left. It says it "began revolving rapidly" to the left.
And that would be known as a flat spin. The rapid revolving was due to
the engines at full power. Most pilots would recognize the 30-degree drop
at the end as slowing to the stall speed as if the plane were simply stalling
or entering into a recoverable vertical spin. A single engine plane would
be very difficult to fly into a horizontal or flat spin. But any twin or
mulit-engine plane like the A300 can easily enter a non-recoverable flat
spin when reaching the stall point if the forward thrust on each side of
the plane's centerline is not equal. The worst case being equal and opposite
thrust around the plane's center of gravity caused by an inflight actuation
of a thrust reverser.
- The NTSB continues to insist there is no evidence of
a terrorist attack. (The Brojon Gazette throws up its hands in complete