After 5 long years of investigation, the Jamaican Civil Aviation Authority concluded that it was due to pilot error.
On December 22, 2009, American Airlines Flight AA331 left for Kingston, Jamaica carrying 148 passengers, including 6 crew members.
When it approached the Norman Manley International Airport, the Boeing 737-823 touched down at 4,100 feet on the 8,911 foot-long runway 12. Under heavy rain and with a 14-knot left quartering tailwind, the aircraft continued running at 62 knots ground speed.
It overran the runway, broke through a fence, and crossed a road. Thankfully, the sand and rocks of the Caribbean Sea stopped the airplane.
But it was too late. The aircraft had been split into three sections and its fuselage was broken. Its landing gear collapsed, the right engine torn off, and jet fuel leaked into the beach from the plane's right wing fuel tanks.
According to a report, 134 passengers suffered minor injuries. It took five years to find the culprit.
On Wednesday this week, Jamaica's Civil Aviation Authority released a final report on the investigation. It found the pilots made landing errors and failed to follow procedures. The report reveals that the Boeing's touchdown was beyond the landing zone.
The crew's decision to land on a wet runway with a strong tailwind also contributed to the accident.
Furthermore, the crew was found to be fatigued, after being on duty for almost 12 hours without rest. The controller at the airport tower also violated procedure when he failed to inform the pilots that there was heavy rain.
The controller could have assigned a better runway, the report said.