Atlas Air Flight 3591 • NTSB Animation

Atlas Air Flight 3591 • NTSB AnimationThis animated reconstruction shows the sequence of events in the accident, which occurred at 12:39 p.m. central standard time on February 23, 2019. The accident involved a Boeing 767-375BCF, N1217A, operated by Atlas Air Inc. as flight 3591 carrying cargo. The airplane was destroyed after it rapidly descended from an altitude of about 6,000 ft mean sea level and crashed into a shallow, muddy marsh area of Trinity Bay, Texas, about 41 miles east-southeast of George Bush Intercontinental/Houston Airport, Houston, Texas. The captain, first officer, and a nonrevenue pilot riding in the jumpseat died.

The animation begins at 12:38:10 p.m. central standard time and ends at 12:39:02 p.m., just before the airplane crashed into Trinity Bay. The end of the animation transitions to a surveillance video showing the rapid descent and impact into the marsh area.

The animation is reconstructed based on information extracted from the airplane’s flight data recorder (FDR) and cockpit voice recorder (CVR), Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) data, air traffic control communications, and aircraft performance data. The animation does not depict the weather or visibility conditions at the time of the accident. The animation includes audio narration and audio of the alerts in the cockpit.

The animation screen is divided into segments to display different pieces of information simultaneously. The upper left of the screen shows a three-dimensional model of the airplane and its orientation during the accident sequence.

To the right of the airplane view, at the top of the screen from left to right are three boxes with a digital readout of the airspeed in knots, the Go Around status, and a digital readout of the altitude in feet. Below those boxes are representations of flight instruments; from left to right the instruments and indicators shown are:

• Analog airspeed indicator showing airspeed in knots, along with a digital readout. The analog airspeed indicator includes a stationary maximum operating speed barber pole indicating 357 knots.
• Attitude indicator showing pitch and roll attitude, and an airspeed tape on the left showing airspeed, the airspeed trend vector, and the maximum operating speed barber pole, which becomes visible as the airplane speed increases and altitude decreases.
• An analog altimeter showing altitude in feet with a digital readout.

The lower left portion of the animation shows selected excerpts from the CVR transcripts as text appearing at the time indicated in the transcript. To the right of the CVR transcript, a profile view shows a plot of the altitude in feet versus horizontal distance in nautical miles; the plot updates as time progresses. The profile view also shows a dashed line near 3,000 feet altitude labeled ‘Cloud base – estimated’.

Next to the profile view, from left to right, the instruments and indicators shown are:
• Speed brake handle position.
• Right and left thrust lever positions.
• Control wheel/column icon depicting the recorded positions of the control wheel (rotating right or left) and control column (moving fore or aft).

The animation begins at 12:38:10 p.m. central standard time, with the airplane descending through 7,000 feet at 234 knots. The thrust levers are near idle and the speed brake handle is in the extended position. At 12:38:31 p.m., just after passing 6,300 feet, the Go Around mode is annunciated, then the thrust levers move to maximum thrust and the speed brake handle is moved to the armed position. The control column is pushed forward and the airplane pitches to a steep nose down angle. At 12:38:57 p.m., at 400 knots airspeed and passing 2,260 feet altitude, the control column is pulled back and the airplane begins to level out. The animation ends at 12:39:02 p.m., with the airplane at 433 knots airspeed and 300 feet altitude.

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