At approximately 18:40 UTC (12:40 local time) Atlas Air 5Y3591, a Boeing 767-375(ER)(BDSF), operating for Amazon Prime Air crashed into Trinity Bay while on approach to Houston (IAH). Flight 5Y 3591 was operating from Miami.

Update 19 December 2019 — The NTSB opened the public docket as part of the ongoing investigation into the crash of Atlas Air 3591.

‘The docket includes more than 3,000 pages of factual reports that cover various aspects of the investigation, including operations, survival factors, human performance, air traffic control, aircraft performance, and includes the cockpit voice recorder transcript, sound spectrum study,  and the flight data recorder information.  The docket also includes interview transcripts, photographs, and other investigative materials.’

The docket includes only factual information and is not a final report, nor is it a finding of probable cause.

Update 12 March 2019 — The NTSB issued an investigative update on 12 March, detailing finds from the Flight data recorder. This update is not a final report, nor is it a finding of probable cause. The investigation is ongoing.

About 12:38, the controller informed the pilots that they would be past the area of weather in about 18 miles, that they could expect a turn to the north for a base leg to the approach to runway 26L, and that weather was clear west of the precipitation area. The pilots responded, “sounds good” and “ok.” At this time, radar and ADS-B returns indicated the airplane levelled briefly at 6,200 ft and then began a slight climb to 6,300 ft.

Also, about this time, the FDR data indicated that some small vertical accelerations consistent with the airplane entering turbulence. Shortly after, when the airplane’s indicated airspeed was steady about 230 knots, the engines increased to maximum thrust, and the airplane pitch increased to about 4° nose up. The airplane then pitched nose down over the next 18 seconds to about 49° in response to nose-down elevator deflection. The stall warning (stick shaker) did not activate.

FDR, radar, and ADS-B data indicated that the airplane entered a rapid descent on a heading of 270°, reaching an airspeed of about 430 knots. A security camera video (figure 4) captured the airplane in a steep, generally wings-level attitude until impact with the swamp. FDR data indicated that the airplane gradually pitched up to about 20 degrees nose down during the descent.

— NTSB investigative update

Update 3 March 2019 — The NTSB has recovered the Flight Data Recorder. It is currently being sent from Houston to the NTSB’s laboratory for analysis.

Update 1 March 2019 — The NTSB has recovered the Cockpit Voice Recorder. The search for the Flight Data Recorder continues. The two recorders are often colloquially known as the Black boxes.

5Y3591 flight track

The flight departed Miami at 16:33UTC (11:33 ET). Last data received from the aircraft was at 18:39 UTC (12:39 CT). The flight was operated by an Atlas Air Boeing 767-375(ER)(BCF) registered N1217A. This aircraft first flew in was converted from a passenger aircraft to cargo and entered service with Atlas in April 2017.

N1217A in Miami
N1217A in Miami

Flightradar24 Data

We have downloaded granular ADS-B data from Flightradar24 receivers that tracked 5Y3591. Over 18,000 rows of data were received from the flight from the activation of its transponder in Miami to the loss of signal near Houston.

Altitude data

Granular altitude data for the last minute of flight

Vertical speed data

Vertical speed for the last minute of flight
Vertical speed for the last minute of flight

Downloadable data

Featured image © Jorge Saenz

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