An American Airlines Airbus A321 experienced what a pilot called an “un-commanded” roll and struck runway equipment during takeoff on 10 April from New York John F Kennedy.
The aircraft took off from the airport at about 20:40 local time, bound for Los Angeles as American flight 300.
“When we departed… strong roll to the left… as we climbed out,” the pilot told air traffic controllers shortly after takeoff, according to an audio recording from LiveATC.net. “We were banking… Uncontrolled bank 45° to the left.”
“Turbulence from another aircraft?” the pilot adds. “I don’t think so. There’s a good crosswind, but we had an un-commanded roll to the left as we rotated.”
The pilot also tells controllers that the aircraft was at that point “flying great”, and he requests clearance to return to JFK, where the A321 landed without incident at 21:09.
The US Federal Aviation Administration is investigating, it says.
“The pilot reported that the Airbus A321 may have collided with an object during departure earlier in the evening,” the FAA tells FlightGlobal. “After the aircraft landed, workers discovered damage to the left wing, possibly caused by striking a runway sign and airport light.”
American confirms in a statement to FlightGlobal that the aircraft “struck an object upon departure”, adding it is investigating the incident in coordination with federal officials.
The National Transportation Safety Board confirms the A321 "experienced a roll during takeoff and hit a runway distance market with the left wingtip". The NTSB is investigating the incident in cooperation with the FAA, American Airlines and the Allied Pilots Association, which represents American's pilots. French aviation investigatory body BEA will assist also, with Airbus serving as BEA's "technical advisor", the NTSB says.
Story updated on 17 April to include comments from the NTSB.