New York airspace was restricted after American Airlines Flight 587, an Airbus A300 bound for Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, crashed at 9:17 a.m. ET, three minutes after takeoff from JFK airport. An engine reportedly separated from the aircraft before the fuselage came to rest in the residential Rockaway Beach section of Queens, New York, about five miles southwest of JFK. Flight 587 carried 246 passengers, including 150 Dominican citizens, and nine crewmembers. (Families of passengers can call 800/245-0999 for more information.) By nightfall, 161 bodies had been recovered. Four Rockaway homes were consumed by post-crash fire, and a dozen more were damaged, according to New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Six area residents are reported missing, and another 25 had been treated, mostly for smoke inhalation. More than 40 fire trucks and 250-plus firefighters were dispatched to the scene.
White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said that no threats against airplanes had been received and that the pilot of Flight 587 reported no trouble before the crash, but he said, "We have not ruled anything in; we have not ruled anything out." The crash is being investigated as an aviation accident, and a senior FBI official said there had been no intelligence gathered and no threats made, "nothing to indicate this was an act of terrorism." Nevertheless, the military initially closed the airspace around New York to all flight operations and implemented a temporary flight restriction area (TFR) from the surface to 25,000 feet for a 25-nm radius around the JFK VOR. The Pentagon also ordered additional combat air patrols over the United States and its coastlines.
The United Nations closed its headquarters but was not evacuated as news of the crash reached ministers from member nations gathered there for the annual General Assembly debate. The Empire State Building was evacuated as a precaution. Tunnels and bridges in the New York metropolitan area, initially closed, were first reopened to outbound traffic only.
NTSB is on-site, and board Chairwoman Marion Blakey reported that the aircraft's cockpit voice recorder has been recovered and delivered to Washington, D.C., for analysis.
Aircraft information—The Airbus A300-600, N14053, went into service with American Airlines on July 12, 1988. It received its last "A" check on November 11 ("A" checks are performed roughly once a week or approximately 60 flight hours and average 10 to 20 man-hours). Its last "B" check was on October 3. (The "B" check is done approximately once a month, or roughly 300 to 500 flight hours. Besides specific service performed on the aircraft, a detailed series of systems and operational checks are performed. A "B" check requires approximately 200 to 300 man-hours on widebody aircraft.) The airplane's last mainbase visit for major maintenance on December 9, 1999. It was scheduled for its next mainbase visit in July 2002. The aircraft used two GE CF6-80C2-A5 high-bypass-ratio turbofan engines. The number one (left) engine had accumulated 694 hours; the number two (right) engine had 9,788 hours and had last been overhauled 2,887 hours ago. According to American Airlines official Al Becker, these engines are normally overhauled at 10,000 hours. However, according to parent AMR Corp.'s Web site, American does not replace and overhaul jet engines at a specific number of hours. Instead, American uses a "condition monitoring" process. American operates 34 other A300s.