AA changes rules after BDL incident

From:         John Harvie/CAM/Lotus <John_Harvie/CAM/Lotus.LOTUS@crd.lotus.com>
Date:         10 Dec 95 02:51:41 
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By Matthew Brelis
Boston Globe Staff
Tuesday, December 5, 1995

American Airlines quietly implemented new safety rules in the wake of last
month's near-tragedy at Bradley International Airport outside Hartford,
instructing its pilots to fly 100 feet higher than the required minimum
elevation for non-precision landings at all airports.

The directive to all pilots and first officers also adds a half-mile visibility
to minimum requirements for all approaches that do not use the full complement
of airport and aircraft instruments.

Under the new rule, pilots of the MD-83 used in last month's flight would not
have had enough visibility to land at Bradley and would have had to fly to
another airport or circle until the weather improved.

Flight 1572 from Chicago's O'Hare Airport was on a non-instrument approach
during a storm Nov. 12 when it struck a ridge about 2 miles from Bradley and
cut a 90-yard swath through oak trees.

One engine caught fire and failed, and the other lost power. The plane,
carrying 72 passengers and a crew of five, landed on an antenna 1,000 feet
short of the runway, bounced twice, and rolled to a stop. During the emergency
evacuation, one person was injured.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the accident,
has found that the pilots were flying 100 feet lower than they should have
been. The board also found that air-traffic controllers failed to follow
federal regulations by not giving the crew an updated barometric-pressure
reading that is used to set the plane's altimeter, which measures altitude.

The plane should have been flying at 1,080 feet, but instead approached at less
than 900 feet and sheared off the tops of oak trees along Metacomet Ridge in
East Granby, Conn.

``This is just indicative that they recognize there was a people problem,''
said a highly placed federal aviation source. ``They are just saying until we
get our [act] together, we are raising the bar a little bit.''

American Airlines spokesman John Hotard said yesterday that the directive was
issued in the week after the crash. He said the move is ``just a precaution the
company took not knowing exactly what went wrong. Flight operations said,
`Let's add 100 feet and a half-mile.'''

Donna Buxton was a passenger on Flight 1572, flying for the first time. ``I
don't want this to happen to anyone else. We could have crashed and died,'' she
said. ``If this helps correct things, it is a wonderful start, but they should
have thought about it before.''

As the plane struggled to stay aloft, Buxton's husband, Wayne, was apologizing
to his wife for talking her into going to Nashville with him.

Now, he is angry.

``It's not like Bradley just opened and is a new airport,'' he said. ``It
infuriates me that they are doing this now. I mean, how many planes came in
there before that were unsafe?''

A commercial airline pilot insisting on anonymity called the directive ``highly
unusual,'' but said it posed no increased risk of collisions.

The Federal Aviation Administration sets the minimums and was not informed of
the directive.

Hotard said the directive will affect ``only a handful of airports'' where
runways do not have advanced instrument landing system approaches.

Most runways at Logan have instrument landing systems, and Bradley's main
runway is ILS equipped.

This story ran on page 25 of the Boston Globe on 12/05/95.