Aviation Accident Report: American Airlines Flight 9/Conduct of Investigation

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An accident involving aircraft NC 16015, while operating in scheduled air carrier service as Trip 9 of American Airlines, Inc., between Chicago, Illinois, and St. Louis, Missouri, occurred near the Lambert-St. Louis Airport, St. Louis, Missouri, on December 11, 1940, about 2:47 p.m. (CST). The accident resulted in major damage to the airplane and injuries to two passengers and two members of the crew. The two remaining passengers and the stewardess were not injured. The accident was reported to the Chicago office of the Civil Aeronautics Board about 3:45 p.m. by a representative of American Airlines.


Inspection and Preservation of Wreckage

Immediately after receiving this notification the Board initiated an investigation of the accident in accordance with the provisions of Section 702 (a)(2) of the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938, as amended. An accident investigator of the Board arrived at St. Louis, Missouri, at 9:50 p.m., December 11, 1940, and after interviewing the Captain and First Officer on the flight involved, proceeded to the scene of the accident. In accordance with instructions of the Board the damaged airplane had been placed under guard and the airplane had not been disturbed except for the damage necessarily incurred in removing the Captain and First Officer from the pilot's compartment.

After a preliminary examination of the damaged parts, it was decided to remove the airplane to a hangar on the Lambert-St. Louis Municipal Airport where a more complete examination could be made. The examination was completed on December 13, 1940, and the airplane was released to American Airlines.


Public Hearing

In connection with the investigation of the accident a public hearing was held in St. Louis, Missouri, on December 18 and 19, 1940. G. Grant Mason, Jr., Member of the Board, acted as Presiding Examiner, assisted by Robert W. Chrisp, Attorney of the Board, as Associate Examiner. The following personnel of the Safety Bureau of the Board participated in the hearing: Jerome Lederer, Director; Frank E. Caldwell, Chief, Investigation Division; Paul Garman, Air Safety Specialist in Meteorology; and Raymond P. Parshell, Air Safety Investigator.

At the hearing all of the evidence available to the Board was presented, forty-nine exhibits were introduced, and thirty-one witnesses testified, including witnesses from the vicinity of the accident and experts in various technical subjects involved in the investigation.

While the examiners and the representatives of the Safety Bureau were the only ones designated to ask questions directly of any witness, the Presiding Examiner, acting under instruction of the Board, announced at the opening of the hearing that any person who had any evidence, questions, or suggestions to present for consideration in the proceeding might submit them to the Examiners. Seventy-eight questions were submitted and at the close of the hearing the Presiding Examiner announced that every question submitted had been asked unless the subject matter of the question had previously been covered by the testimony.

Upon the basis of all the evidence accumulated in the investigation and hearing, the Board now makes its report in accordance with the provisions of the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938, as amended.