An American Airlines Boeing MD-82 landing at night in a violent thunderstorm skidded off runway 04R at Little Rock Airport, USA, killing the captain and several passengers.

The flight (AA1420) was due to arrive at 21.40 local time on 1 June, but was delayed 2h by the weather. The crew had been on duty for 13.5h, which is exceptional for a short-haul duty period.

The flight left Dallas/Fort Worth for Little Rock carrying 139 passengers and a crew of six. The National Weather Service says winds in the Little Rock area were gusting to 88mph. The aircraft (N215AA) ran off the end of the runway, hit a lighting tower, broke up and burst into flames, coming to rest 300m beyond the runway. According to early reports, up to nine people on board were killed and several injured.

With a fleet of 260, American is the world's largest operator of the MD-80. Capt Richard Buschmann, the airline's chief pilot in Chicago, was flying the aircraft. He had logged 9,600 flight hours, including 5,500h in MD-80s.

This was the first fatal accident involving a scheduled US passenger airline since December 1997. American's last major accident was in 1995, when a Boeing 757 crashed into mountains near Cali, Colombia, killing 160 people.

Source: Flight International