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American Flight 587 and the Importance of VA

April 4, 2020 @ 12:00 pm

**Due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, this seminar will only be available for online viewing. IN-PERSON ATTENDANCE WILL NOT BE PERMITTED.**

Click here to learn more about online viewing.


Sometimes we think certain things would never happen, until they do. For the majority of us pilots, we try to always prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.

San Carlos Flight Center invites Advanced Ground Instructor Michel Vidal-Naquet to talk about the investigation of American Airlines Flight 587 that crashed into a suburban neighborhood in New York in 2001. The NTSB determined that after encountering the wake turbulence of a preceding 747, the first officer applied a series of full alternating rudder inputs that led to structural failure and the separation of the vertical stabilizer. The aircraft was traveling at approximately 250 knots, that is 20 knots below VA for the Airbus A300 “What? But I thought flying below VA protected against structural damage?” This accident revealed a general misconception of the term VA within the pilot community. Does flying at or below VA always “guarantee” protection?

In this presentation, we will go over the accident and describe different contributing factors to the crash, as identified by the NTSB. We will then examine the concept of maneuvering speed and take a look at how VA is intricately defined by the regulations. Finally, we will review implications for GA pilots. We recommend all pilots to attend as we learn from this seminar and improve our safety in flight in the future.

Michel Vidal-Naquet is an advanced ground instructor and an instrument-rated private pilot with about 680 flight hours. He started flying in 2013 after settling in the Bay area to work as a computer scientist and engineer. His passion for aviation began during his early childhood when his family first took him on international flights. He brings a scientific point of view to his flying, and is always learning.

San Carlos Flight Center (SCFC) is the SF Bay Area’s most dynamic flying club, committed to building general aviation thought safety, community, and adventure. AOPA has consistently recognized SCFC in their Best Flight School survey, most recently in 2019 as a Distinguished Flight School.

SCFC is committed to promoting safety in general aviation through our regular safety seminars and guest speaker programs. Space is often limited so it is important to sign up early. SCFC members may choose to watch the seminar live over the web at home, or recorded at a later date. Click here or contact a SCFC member service rep at (650) 946-1700 for more information about online access.


April 4, 2020
12:00 pm
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San Carlos Flight Center
(650) 946-1700
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