Controllers at Norman Manley International airport in Kingston, Jamaica offered the crew of an American Airlines Boeing 737-800 that overran a runway on 23 December a circling approach to the opposite runway end in order to avoid tailwind conditions prevalent at the time, according to a preliminary report released today by the civil aviation authority of Jamaica.
During a landing in heavy rain the aircraft exited the runway, went through a perimeter fence, crossed a road and came to rest 53m (175ft) beyond the end of runway 12, which was 12m (40ft) from the water line.
Officials say the controllers on duty at the time advised the American crew of tailwind conditions on runway 12. The airport has a single runway designated 12/30.
In the report Jamaican authorities explained air traffic control offered the crew a circling approach for landing on runway 30.
"The crew repeated their request for runway 12 and were subsequently cleared to land on that runway, with the controller further advising the crew that the runway was wet," the report states.
The captain was operating the aircraft at the time, and reported he was using the 737's head-up display during approach and landing.
After descending through cloud cover the crew made visual contact with the runway between 305m (1000ft) and 213m (700ft) above ground level. The flight data recorder (FDR) indicates the landing speed was 148kt (268 km/h), with a ground speed of 162kt (300 km/h) and a tailwind component of 14kt (25 km/h). The 737 made initial contact at 1,220m (4,000ft) down the 2,714m (8,900ft) runway.
FDR data show that the aircraft bounced once and settled into the runway. The autobrakes then engaged, and reverse thrust and spoilers were deployed.
Jamaican authorities say the crew reported at that point they felt the aircraft did not decelerate normally, and applied maximum breaking.
During the landing rollout, the FDR shows the aircraft veered to the left of centreline and departed the end of the runway at a groundspeed of 63kt (116 km/h).
The reports states the FDR did not indicate any anomalies or malfunction with the operation of the brakes, spoilers or thrust reversers.
The runway at Kingston was rehabilitated in 1997-1998 with a mixture of asphalt and concrete that meets internationally accepted specifications and standards, said Jamaican officials during a press briefing today.
Those officials also said the fact that many aircraft have landed at the airport for years in heavy rains is "not outside the envelope of normality".