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American Airlines Crew Involved In Landing Mishap Grounded

February 14, 1986

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The pilots and flight engineer of an American Airlines jetliner that struck landing lights at a Texas airfield last week will not be permitted to fly for at least a year, the Federal Aviation Administration says.

The FAA said Thursday that it had revoked the operating certificates of the two pilots and the flight engineer, saying they had acted ″in a careless manner″ and that they had failed to officially report the mishap.

The aircraft was flown three more times before damage to the Boeing 727 was noticed.

FAA spokesman Fred Farrar said the three men may request reinstatement of their licenses in a year, but would be prohibited from operating an aircraft as of Thursday.

The incident involved American Flight 844, which had 125 passengers and seven crew members aboard when it tried to land at Harlingen, Texas, in poor weather last Friday night, according to officials. The flight began in Dallas, 500 miles away.

After two attempts, the pilot tried a third approach and struck a stanchion of approach lights 450 feet from the beginning of the runway and another set of lights 200 feet closer to the runway before again becoming airborne.

The plane then flew to San Antonio, where it landed without incident and the passengers were put on buses. The plane was then flown without passengers to Dallas-Fort Worth.

The next day, with another crew, the aircraft resumed its normal flights, carrying passengers from Dallas to San Antonio, back to Dallas and on to Denver, according to FAA officials.

In Denver, minor damage to the outside skin of the aircraft was noticed by the cockpit crew, officials said.

No one was injured in the incident, although officials said the impact with the break-away airport lights was severe enough to cause the oxygen masks in the cabin to dislodge and several ceiling tiles to break away.

American Airlines spokesman John Hotard said the company would have no comment pending completion of its investigation into the incident except to confirm the FAA’s action.

Federal regulations require that flight crews make a ″walk-around″ inspection of an aircraft before it departs on a flight. It is not known why such an inspection did not uncover the damage Saturday before the plane resumed normal operations.

The three employees were identified as Capt. John Dowds, a 20-year veteran at American; First Officer Stephen Gall, the co-pilot who has worked at American since 1979; and John Bonewitz, the flight engineer who was hired last October.

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