American Airlines flight AA 331 on December 22, originating out of Washington Ronald Reagan International Airport, stopping in Miami and then heading into Kingston, Jamaica overran the runway at Norman Manley International Airport and broke apart after landing in a heavy rainstorm.
The Boeing 737-800 carrying 148, mostly Jamaican passengers going home for Christmas and 6 crew members reportedly landed on the runway at 22:22 local time after a 90 minute flight from Miami. Then it couldn’t stop and overshot the runway, skidding across the airport’s fences and a rainwater ditch, almost breaking into two parts and after crossing a road, it came to a rest on a beach. The aircraft’s nose only came to a full stop about 3 m’s (10 feet) away from the Caribbean Sea. As you can see on the map below, the plane must have skidded off the runway at the South-Eastern end.
44 people have been hospitalized, mostly with bruises, broken bones and back pains, 42 of whom have been released immediately after the treatments. The first reports claim no deaths nor life threatening injuries. Most witnesses claimed many passengers sustained injuries from hand luggage falling from the overhead compartments – on the head, neck and shoulders. This indicates that the plane must have touched down very hard and may have even bounced on the runway a few times. The plane’s fuselage was cracked at two locations (before and after the wing), both engines broke off and the left landing gear collapsed from the impact. It is not yet known whether the landing gear collapsed during landing, or afterwards when the plane actually overran the runway.
Passengers from the plane have said the flight was very turbulent all the way, with the crew trying to serve drinks three times and finally giving up. The captain also warned before landing that more turbulence is ahead… The crew have directed emergency procedures very effectively and evacuated all passengers onto the beach. Inside the plane passengers claim they smelled smoke and jet fuel, while rain was pouring through the roof where the fuselage was broken.
The plane was delivered to American Airlines in 2001, and had the registration number N977AN. Interestingly, the areas where the plane cracked before and after the wing are almost the same as the Turkish Airlines Boeing 737-800 that crash-landed at Amsterdam airport in February this year.