Ask the Captain: Jamaica Airplane Crash

Plane Talk: Got a question? Ask the Captain!

Do you have a question about airline safety, flight etiquette, jet lag, or air travel in general? Submit your question and look for answers in a future column.

by W. M. Wiggins

What did you see as the problem in the American Airlines Jamaica runway accident? 


First, I saw the problem, landing with a tailwind (possibly) out of limits. Then I see what appears to be some of the best publications relations in the realm of corporate aviation.

 The following is my opinion:

Basic airplane 101 says, point that little puppy (the jet or “de plane”, “de plane” ) into the wind for all takeoffs and landings.

The “Specs” or specifications for the Boeing 737-800 say max takeoff / landing tailwind component is 10 knots. Please note, it does NOT say About, Sorta’or Kinda’10 kts. It says 10 kts. This will be important later.

Then the  “Specs” goes on to say…There “May” be 15kts ( tailwind) as customer option. Hmmm? Seems just a tad contradictory, yes?

Uh, NO, not really.

What that means, basically, is that Boeing is “on the hook legally” for that 10 kt tailwind number.

Now, but, but, but what about that 15 kts?

Well, that’s “Show me the $$ money $$ time.

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