American Airlines Flight AA331, a Boeing 737-823 in United States registration N977AN, carrying 148 passengers, including three infants, and a crew of six, was being operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 121.
The aircraft departed Miami (KMIA) at 20:22 Eastern Standard Time (EST) on 22 December 2009 (01:22 Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) on 23 December 2009) on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan, on a scheduled flight to Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA), ICAO identifier: MKJP, Kingston, Jamaica.
The aircraft landed at NMIA on runway 12 in the hours of darkness at 22:22 EST (03:22 UTC) in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) following an Instrument Landing System (ILS) approach flown using the heads up display (HUD) and becoming visual at approximately two miles from the runway.
If the first officer, that was “pilot monitoring” had called for a go-around when there were indications that the aircraft was landing long, the accident could have been avoided.
The aircraft touched down at approximately 4,100 feet on the 8,911 foot long runway in heavy rain and with a 14 knot left quartering tailwind.
The crew was unable to stop the aircraft on the remaining 4,811 feet of runway and it overran the end of the runway at 62 knots ground speed. The aircraft broke through a fence, crossed above a road below the runway level and came to an abrupt stop on the sand dunes and rocks between the road and the waterline of the Caribbean Sea.
There was no post-crash fire. The aircraft was destroyed, its fuselage broken into three sections, while the left landing gear collapsed. The right engine and landing gear were torn off, the left wingtip was badly damaged and the right wing fuel tanks were ruptured, leaking jet fuel onto the beach sand.
One hundred and thirty four (134) passengers suffered minor or no injury, while 14 were seriously injured, though there were no life-threatening injuries. None of the flight crew and cabin crew was seriously injured, and they were able to assist the passengers during the evacuation.
The investigation determined that the most probable cause of this accident was that the aircraft touched down 4,100 feet beyond the threshold, and could not be stopped on the remaining runway.
The flight crew’s decision to land on a wet runway in a 14 knot tailwind, their reduced situational awareness and failure to conduct a go-around after the aircraft floated longer than usual contributed to the accident.