American Airlines Airbus A321 Suffers A 45 Degree Roll After Takeoff

An American Airlines A321 suffered an uncontrolled 45° roll departing from New York’s John F Kennedy airport last week. The aircraft hit a sign as a result, however, landed safely after returning to JFK. The incident is now being investigated by the NTSB.

American A321
An American Airlines Airbus A321 collided with a sign during takeoff last week. Photo: Glenn Beltz via Wikimedia

While the incident itself was resolved safely, the cause of the incident is still unknown. As damage occurred to the aircraft in flight, the National Transport Safety Board of the United States is looking into the matter. The roll occurred towards the left.


The incident in question affected American Airlines flight 300. AA300 was supposed to fly to Los Angeles from New York. However, due to the incident, the flight returned to its departure airport after takeoff.

AA300 departed from JFK at 2040 local time on April 10th. It flew for around 30 minutes before landing at 2109. This tells us that the incident did not adversely affect the handling of the aircraft. Had the incident had more pressing consequences, the Airbus A321 would likely have landed a lot sooner. It has been reported that passengers were told the return to JFK was due to a computer malfunction.

American A321
The aircraft safely landed back at JFK Airport after the incident. Photo: Venkat Mangudi via Wikimedia

Flight records show that the aircraft climbed to 20,000ft after departure before turning back towards New York. After reaching this height, it made a U-turn and began descending at an orderly pace. Flight AA300 is scheduled to depart New York at 2030 EDT, and arrive in Los Angeles at 0303 EDT.

“Flying Great”

According to ATC records held by LiveATC, the pilot reported: “When we departed [there was a] strong roll to the left as we climbed out”. Before going on to add “We were banking, uncontrolled bank 45 degrees to the left”.

When asked whether he experienced turbulence from another aircraft, the pilot responded: “I don’t think so”. American Airlines told Flight Global that the aircraft “struck an object upon departure”.

American A321
Both the FAA and the NTSB are investigating the incident. Photo: Eric Salard via Wikimedia


Both the FAA and the NTSB are investigating the incident. As the aircraft is manufactured by Airbus, the French BEA is also investigating the unusual occurrence. Runway signs are typically no taller than a foot off of the ground. Given this information, the incident will likely have occurred almost immediately after takeoff.

In a tweet by CBS Transport correspondent Kris Van Cleave, the extent of the damage becomes visible:

Unfortunately, collisions during takeoff do occur occasionally. In October, an Air India Boeing 737 collided with a wall during takeoff. This incident was only noticed after ground crew communicated the wall damage to the aircraft. This could in part explain why the pilot didn’t immediately return to the airport, he could’ve been unaware of the damage?

Were you on the aircraft? What are your thoughts on the incident? Let us know in the comments down below!