American Airlines Flight 11

Last updated
American Airlines Flight 11
AA11 path.svg
AAL11 flight path from Boston to New York City
Hijacking
DateTuesday, September 11, 2001 (2001-09-11)
Summary Terrorist suicide hijacking
Site North Tower of the World Trade Center, New York City, U.S.
40°42′43.63″N74°0′47.48″W / 40.7121194°N 74.0131889°W / 40.7121194; -74.0131889 Coordinates: 40°42′43.63″N74°0′47.48″W / 40.7121194°N 74.0131889°W / 40.7121194; -74.0131889
Total fatalities1692 (unconfirmed)
Aircraft
Aircraft type Boeing 767-223ER
Operator American Airlines
IATA flight No.AA11
ICAO flight No.AAL11
Call signAMERICAN 11
Registration N334AA
Flight origin Logan International Airport, Boston
Destination Los Angeles International Airport
Occupants92 (including 5 hijackers)
Passengers81 (including 5 hijackers)
Crew11
Fatalities92 (all; including 5 hijackers)
Survivors0
Ground casualties
Ground fatalities1600 (including emergency workers) at the North Tower of the World Trade Center

American Airlines Flight 11 was a domestic passenger flight that was hijacked by five al-Qaeda members on September 11, 2001, as part of the September 11 attacks. Mohamed Atta deliberately crashed the plane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing all 92 people aboard and an unknown number in the building's impact zone. The aircraft involved, a Boeing 767-223ER, registration N334AA, [1] was flying American Airlines' daily scheduled morning transcontinental service from Logan International Airport in Boston to Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles.

Airline company that provides air transport services for traveling passengers and freight

An airline is a company that provides air transport services for traveling passengers and freight. Airlines utilize aircraft to supply these services, and may form partnerships or alliances with other airlines for codeshare agreements. Generally, airline companies are recognized with an air operating certificate or license issued by a governmental aviation body.

Aircraft hijacking is the unlawful seizure of an aircraft by an individual or a group. Dating from the earliest of hijackings, most cases involve the pilot being forced to fly according to the hijackers demands. However, in rare cases, the hijackers have flown the aircraft themselves and used them in suicide attacks; most notably in the September 11 attacks, and in several cases, planes have been seized by the official pilot or co-pilot.

Al-Qaeda Salafi jihadist organization

Al-Qaeda is a militant Sunni Islamist multi-national organization founded in 1988 by Osama bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam, and several other Arab volunteers during the Soviet–Afghan War.

Contents

Fifteen minutes into the flight, the hijackers injured at least three people (possibly killing one), forcibly breached the cockpit, and overpowered the captain and first officer. Atta, an al-Qaeda member and licensed commercial pilot, took over the controls. Air-traffic controllers noticed the flight was in distress when the crew was no longer responding. They realized the flight had been hijacked when Mohamed Atta's announcements for passengers were transmitted to air traffic control. On board, flight attendants Amy Sweeney and Betty Ong contacted American Airlines, and provided information about the hijackers and injuries to passengers and crew.

Flight attendant member of an aircrew

Flight attendants or cabin crew are members of an aircrew employed by airlines primarily to ensure the safety and comfort of passengers aboard commercial flights, on select business jet aircraft, and on some military aircraft.

Madeline Amy Sweeney American flight attendant

Madeline Amy Sweeney, known as Amy Sweeney, was an American flight attendant killed on board American Airlines Flight 11 during the September 11 attacks.

Betty Ann Ong was an American flight attendant aboard American Airlines Flight 11, the first airplane to become hijacked during the September 11 attacks. Shortly after the hijacking, Ong notified the American Airlines ground crew of the hijacking, staying on the telephone for 25 minutes and relaying vital information that eventually led to the closing of airspace by the FAA for the first time in United States history.

The aircraft crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 08:46:40 local time. Countless people in the streets of New York City witnessed the strike, but few video recordings captured the moment. Documentary film maker Jules Naudet captured the only known footage of the initial impact from start to finish. Before the hijacking was confirmed, news agencies began to report on the incident and speculated that the crash had been an accident. The impact and subsequent fire caused the North Tower to collapse 102 minutes after the crash, resulting in hundreds of additional casualties. During the recovery effort at the World Trade Center site, workers recovered and identified dozens of remains from Flight 11 victims, but many body fragments could not be identified.

World Trade Center site Grounds of the World Trade Center in New York City

The World Trade Center site, formerly referred to as "Ground Zero" or "the Pile" immediately after the September 11 attacks, is a 14.6-acre (5.9 ha) area in Lower Manhattan in New York City. The site is bounded by Vesey Street to the north, the West Side Highway to the west, Liberty Street to the south, and Church Street to the east. The Port Authority owns the site's land. The previous World Trade Center complex stood on the site until it was destroyed in the September 11 attacks.

Flight

N334AA, the aircraft involved, taxiing at Manchester Airport on April 8, 2001, five months before the attacks. N334AA B767-223ER American MAN 08APR01 (6839074488).jpg
N334AA, the aircraft involved, taxiing at Manchester Airport on April 8, 2001, five months before the attacks.

The American Airlines Flight 11 aircraft was a Boeing 767-223ER delivered in 1987, registration number N334AA. [2] The capacity of the aircraft was 158 passengers, but the September 11 flight carried 81 passengers and 11 crew members. This was a light load at 58.2 percent capacity, but higher than the average load factor for Flight 11 on Tuesday mornings of 39 percent in the months preceding September 11. [3] The 11 crew members were Captain John Ogonowski, First Officer Thomas McGuinness, and flight attendants Barbara Arestegui, Jeffrey Collman, Sara Low, Karen Martin, Kathleen Nicosia, Betty Ong, Jean Roger, Dianne Snyder, and Amy Sweeney. [4]

Boeing 767 Large wide-body twin-engine jet airliner family

The Boeing 767 is a mid- to large-size, mid- to long-range, wide-body twin-engine jet airliner developed and manufactured by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. It was Boeing's first wide-body twinjet and its first airliner with a two-crew glass cockpit. The aircraft has two turbofan engines, a conventional tail, and, for reduced aerodynamic drag, a supercritical wing design. Designed as a smaller wide-body airliner than earlier aircraft such as the 747, the 767 has a seating capacity for 181 to 375 people, and a design range of 3,850 to 6,385 nautical miles, depending on variant. Development of the 767 occurred in tandem with a narrow-body twinjet, the 757, resulting in shared design features which allow pilots to obtain a common type rating to operate both aircraft.

Aircraft registration Registration and identification assigned to an individual aircraft by national aviation authorities

An aircraft registration is a code unique to a single aircraft, required by international convention to be marked on the exterior of every civil aircraft. The registration indicates the aircraft's country of registration, and functions much like an automobile license plate. This code must also appear in its Certificate of Registration, issued by the relevant National Aviation Authority (NAA). An aircraft can only have one registration, in one jurisdiction, though it is changeable over the life of the aircraft.

Passenger load factor, or load factor, measures the capacity utilization of public transport services like airlines, passenger railways, and intercity bus services. It is generally used to assess how efficiently a transport provider fills seats and generates fare revenue.

All 92 people on board were killed, [5] including David Angell (the creator and executive producer of the television sitcom Frasier ), his wife Lynn Angell, and actress Berry Berenson, the widow of Anthony Perkins. [6] Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane had been scheduled to be on the flight but arrived at the airport late. [7] Actor Mark Wahlberg was also scheduled to be on the flight but canceled his ticket at the last minute. [8] Actress Leighanne Littrell, wife of Backstreet Boys singer Brian Littrell, had also previously been booked on the flight but, like Wahlberg, changed her plans at the last minute. [9]

David Angell American television producer

David Lawrence Angell was an American television producer and screenwriter. Angell won multiple Emmy Awards as the creator and executive producer, along with Peter Casey and David Lee, of the sitcoms Wings and Frasier. Angell and his wife Lynn both died heading home from their vacation on Cape Cod aboard American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to hit the World Trade Center during the September 11 attacks.

<i>Frasier</i> American comedy television series

Frasier is an American sitcom that was broadcast on NBC for 11 seasons, premiering on September 16, 1993, and concluding on May 13, 2004. The program was created and produced by David Angell, Peter Casey, and David Lee in association with Grammnet (2004) and Paramount Network Television. The series was created as a spin-off of Cheers, continuing the story of psychiatrist Frasier Crane as he returned to his hometown of Seattle and started building a new life as a radio advice show host while reconnecting with his father and brother and making new friends. Frasier stars Kelsey Grammer, Jane Leeves, David Hyde Pierce, Peri Gilpin, and John Mahoney. The show was critically acclaimed, with the show itself and the cast winning thirty-seven Primetime Emmy Awards, a record at the time for a scripted series. It also won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series for five consecutive years. As of 2019, the possibility of a revival was being discussed.

Berinthia "Berry" Berenson-Perkins was an American photographer, actress, and model. Perkins, who was the wife of actor Anthony Perkins, died in the September 11 attacks as a passenger on American Airlines Flight 11.

Boarding

Atta (blue shirt) and Omari at Portland International Jetport, passing through security on the morning of 9/11 Atta in airport.jpg
Atta (blue shirt) and Omari at Portland International Jetport, passing through security on the morning of 9/11

Mohamed Atta, the ringleader of the attacks, and a fellow hijacker, Abdulaziz al-Omari, arrived at Portland International Jetport at 05:41 Eastern Daylight Time on September 11, 2001. They boarded Colgan Air Flight 5930, which was scheduled to depart at 06:00 from Portland, Maine, and fly to Boston. Both hijackers had first class tickets with a connecting flight to Los Angeles; Atta checked in two bags, Omari none. [3] When they checked in, the Computer-Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS) selected Atta for extra luggage scrutiny, but he boarded without incident. [10] The flight from Portland departed on time and arrived in Boston at 06:45. Three other hijackers, Waleed al-Shehri, Wail al-Shehri, and Satam al-Suqami, arrived at Logan Airport at 06:45, having left their rental car in the airport parking facility. At 06:52, Marwan al-Shehhi, the hijacker pilot of United Airlines Flight 175, made a call from a pay phone in Logan Airport to Atta's cell phone. [3] [11]

Mohamed Atta Afghan hijacker and one of the ringleaders of the September 11 attacks

Mohamed Mohamed el-Amir Awad el-Sayed Atta was an Egyptian hijacker and one of the ringleaders of the September 11 attacks in which four United States commercial aircraft were commandeered with the intention of destroying specific civilian targets. He served as the hijacker-pilot of American Airlines Flight 11 and crashed the plane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center as part of the coordinated attacks. At 33 years of age, he was the oldest of the 19 hijackers who took part in the attacks.

Abdulaziz al-Omari 9/11 hijacker

Abdulaziz al-Omari was a Saudi airport security guard and imam who was one of five hijackers of American Airlines Flight 11 as part of the September 11 attacks.

Portland International Jetport Airport in Portland, Maine, USA

Portland International Jetport is a public airport two miles (3 km) west of downtown Portland, in Cumberland County, Maine. It is owned and operated by the City of Portland. A portion of the Jetport's property, including the main runway, is in the neighboring city of South Portland. PWM covers 726 acres of land.

Since they were not given boarding passes for Flight 11 in Portland, Atta and Omari checked in and went through security in Boston. [12] In the rushed check-in after the flight from Portland, airline officials did not load Atta's bags on Flight 11. [13] [14] Suqami, Wail al-Shehri, and Waleed al-Shehri also checked in for the flight in Boston. Wail al-Shehri and Suqami each checked one bag; Waleed al-Shehri did not check any bags. [3] CAPPS selected all three for a detailed luggage check. [15] As the CAPPS' screening was only for luggage, the three hijackers did not undergo any extra scrutiny at the passenger security checkpoint. [16]

By 07:40, all five hijackers were aboard the flight, scheduled to depart at 07:45. [11] [17] Mohamed Atta sat in business class seat 8D with Abdulaziz al-Omari in 8G and Suqami in 10B. Waleed al-Shehri and Wail al-Shehri sat in first class seats 2B and 2A. [15] At 07:46, one minute behind schedule, the aircraft received clearance to push back from Gate B32, [18] and was cleared to taxi to the runway at 07:50. The aircraft began its takeoff run from Logan International Airport at 07:59 from runway 4R. [19] [20]

Hijacking

"Okay, my name is Betty Ong. I'm [Flight Attendant] Number 3 on Flight 11. Our Number 1 got stabbed. Our purser is stabbed. Nobody knows who stabbed who and we can't even get up to business class right now because nobody can breathe. And we can't get to the cockpit, the door won't open."
- Flight attendant Betty Ong to the American Airlines emergency line. [21]

The 9/11 Commission estimated that the hijacking began at 08:14, when the pilots stopped responding to requests from the Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center (Boston ARTCC). [11] Waleed al-Shehri made the first move. At 08:13:29, as the aircraft was passing over central Massachusetts at 26,000 feet (7,900 m), the pilots responded to a request from Boston ARTCC to make a 20-degree turn to the right. At 08:13:47, Boston ARTCC told the pilots to ascend to a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet (11,000 m) but received no response. [20] It is believed that Captain Ogonowski was stabbed to death in order for the hijacker pilot Mohamed Atta to take control of the plane and crash it into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Before dying, Ogonowski keyed the cockpit microphone; "pushing its button intermittently to signal that something was wrong and at one point allowing them to hear the voice of the hijacker." [22] [23] At 08:16, the aircraft leveled off at 29,000 feet (8,800 m) [20] and shortly thereafter deviated from its scheduled path. Boston ARTCC made multiple attempts to talk to Flight 11 without reply, [11] and at 08:21, the flight stopped transmitting its Mode-C transponder signal. [20]

According to flight attendants Amy Sweeney and Betty Ong, who contacted American Airlines during the hijacking, the hijackers had stabbed flight attendants Karen Martin and Barbara Arestegui and slashed the throat of passenger Daniel Lewin. [24] [25] [26] Lewin, an American-Israeli Internet entrepreneur who understood Arabic, had served as an officer in the elite Sayeret Matkal special operations unit of the Israel Defense Forces. [27] [28] Lewin was seated in 9B, and Suqami was directly behind him in 10B. [29] The 9/11 Commission suggested that Suqami may have stabbed and killed Lewin after he attempted to stop the hijacking. [11] Lewin is believed to be the first fatality in the 9/11 attacks. [28] [30] During a four-minute call to the American Airlines operations center, Ong provided information about lack of communication with the cockpit, lack of access to the cockpit, and passenger injuries. [31] She provided the seat locations of the hijackers, which later helped investigators to determine their identities. [31]

At 08:24:38, Atta tried to make an announcement to the passengers, but pressed the wrong button and sent the message to Boston ARTCC. [32] Air traffic controllers heard Atta announce, "We have some planes. Just stay quiet and you'll be O.K. We are returning to the airport." At 08:24:56, he announced "Nobody move. Everything will be okay. If you try to make any moves, you'll endanger yourself and the airplane. Just stay quiet." [20] As before, Atta thought he was speaking to only the passengers, but his voice was picked up and recorded by air traffic controllers. After the transmissions by Atta and the inability to contact the airliner, air traffic controllers at Boston ARTCC realized the flight had been hijacked. [33] At 08:26, the plane turned south. [20] At 08:32, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Command Center in Herndon, Virginia, notified FAA headquarters. [11]

At 08:33:59, Atta announced, "Nobody move, please. We are going back to the airport. Don't try to make any stupid moves." [20] At 08:37:08, the pilots of United Airlines Flight 175 verified Flight 11's location and heading to flight control. [34] Boston ARTCC bypassed standard protocols and directly contacted the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) in Rome, New York. [11] NEADS called on two F-15 fighter jets at Otis Air National Guard Base in Mashpee, Massachusetts, to intercept. Officials at Otis spent a few minutes getting authorization for the fighters to take off. [11] Atta completed the final turn towards Manhattan at 08:43. [20] The order to dispatch the fighters at Otis was given at 08:46, and the F-15s took off at 08:53, [11] [33] roughly seven minutes after American Airlines Flight 11 had already crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Of the four hijacked aircraft on 9/11, the nine minutes of advance notification about the hijacking of Flight 11 was the most time that NORAD had to respond before the aircraft crashed into its target. [35]

Crash

At 08:46:30, [37] Mohamed Atta intentionally crashed American Airlines Flight 11 into the northern façade of the North Tower (Tower 1) of the World Trade Center. [20] The aircraft, traveling at about 404 knots (465 mph; 748 km/h) and carrying about 10,000 U.S. gallons (38,000 L) of jet fuel, hit between the 93rd and 99th floors of the North Tower. [38]

Jules Naudet filmed the impact of Flight 11 as it crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Firstplane.jpg
Jules Naudet filmed the impact of Flight 11 as it crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

Witnesses saw the plane flying at low altitude over Manhattan and thought the aircraft was in distress. Lieutenant William Walsh of the FDNY (who appears in the documentary film 9/11 ) witnessed the aircraft:

We were under the impression – he looked like he was going down, but we didn't hear any mechanical difficulty. We couldn't figure out why an American Airlines plane would be so low in downtown Manhattan. We sort of expected him to veer off and go into the Hudson. But he just rose a little bit, his altitude, leveled off, and he was headed straight for the Trade Center. So just before he got to the Trade Center, it seemed as though he gained power. We were just watching this airplane on target for the World Trade Center. All of a sudden, boom! He disappears into the Trade Center. [39]

The damage caused to the North Tower destroyed any means of escape at the impact zone or above it. All stairwells and elevators from the 92nd floor up were rendered impassable, [40] trapping 1,344 people. [40] According to the Commission Report, hundreds were killed instantly by the impact; the rest were trapped and died from the subsequent fire and smoke, the eventual collapse, or (in some cases) after jumping or falling from the building. [41] Elevator shafts channeled burning jet fuel through the building. [42] At least one elevator shaft carried burning fuel downward, exploding on the 77th floor, the 22nd floor, and at street level on the West Side Lobby. [43]

Landing gear from Flight 11 found at West and Rector streets Landing gear aa11.jpg
Landing gear from Flight 11 found at West and Rector streets

Jules Naudet, a French cameraman, and Pavel Hlava, a Czech immigrant, videotaped the crash. [45] [46] A webcam set up by Wolfgang Staehle at an art exhibit in Brooklyn to take images of Lower Manhattan every four seconds also captured images of Flight 11 crashing into the North Tower. [47] A WNYW newscamera left rolling on the ground also captured audio of the crash and video of the immediate aftermath.

News organizations at first reported an explosion or incident at the World Trade Center. CNN broke into a commercial at 08:49 with the headline that read "World Trade Center Disaster". Carol Lin, who was the first anchor to break the news of the attacks, said:

Yeah. This just in: you are looking at, obviously, a very disturbing live shot there. That is the World Trade Center, and we have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. CNN Center right now is just beginning to work on this story, obviously calling our sources and trying to figure out exactly what happened, but clearly something relatively devastating happening this morning there on the south end of the island of Manhattan. That is once again, a picture of one of the towers of the World Trade Center. [48]

Later, in an on-air phone call from his office at the CNN New York bureau, CNN vice-president of finance Sean Murtagh reported that a large passenger commercial jet had hit the World Trade Center. [48] Eventually, other television networks interrupted regular broadcasting with news of the crash. President George W. Bush was arriving at Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida. Initial news reports speculated that the crash had been an accident until United Airlines Flight 175 was flown into the South Tower 17 minutes after Flight 11 made impact.

Aftermath

Wreckage at museum Wrackteil vom 9.11.2001.jpg
Wreckage at museum
The names of Flight 11's crew are located on Panel N-74 of the National September 11 Memorial's North Pool. The passenger names are inscribed on that panel and four other adjacent ones. 4.28.12Flight11PanelN-74ByLuigiNovi2.jpg
The names of Flight 11's crew are located on Panel N-74 of the National September 11 Memorial's North Pool. The passenger names are inscribed on that panel and four other adjacent ones.

After the crash, the North Tower burned for 102 minutes before collapsing at 10:28 A.M. Although the impact itself caused extensive structural damage, the long-lasting fire ignited by jet fuel was blamed for the structural failure of the tower. [50] [51] [52] In addition to the aircraft passengers and building occupants, hundreds of rescue workers also died when the tower collapsed. [53] Cantor Fitzgerald L.P., an investment bank on floors 101–105 of the World Trade Center One, lost 658 employees, considerably more than any other employer. [54]

Rescue workers at the World Trade Center site began to discover body fragments from Flight 11 victims within days of the attack. Some workers found bodies strapped to airplane seats and discovered the body of a flight attendant with her hands bound, suggesting the hijackers might have used plastic handcuffs. [55] [56] Within a year, medical examiners had identified the remains of 33 victims who had been on board Flight 11. [57] They identified two other Flight 11 victims, including purser Karen Martin, in 2006, while other unrelated body fragments were discovered near Ground Zero around the same time. [58] [59] In April 2007, examiners using newer DNA technology identified another Flight 11 victim. [60] The remains of two hijackers, potentially from Flight 11, were also identified and removed from Memorial Park in Manhattan. [61] The remains of the other hijackers have not been identified and are buried with other unidentified remains at this park. [62]

Suqami's passport survived the crash and landed in the street below. Soaked in jet fuel, it was picked up by a passerby who gave it to a New York City Police Department (NYPD) detective shortly before the South Tower collapsed. [63] [64] Investigators retrieved Mohamed Atta's luggage, which had not been loaded onto the flight. In it they found Omari's passport and driver's license, a videocassette for a Boeing 757 flight simulator, a folding knife, and pepper spray. [14] In a recording, a few months later in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda's leader, Osama bin Laden, took responsibility for the attack. The attack on the World Trade Center exceeded even bin Laden's expectations: he had expected only the floors above the plane strikes to collapse. [65] The flight recorders for Flight 11 and Flight 175 were never found. [66]

After the attacks, the flight number for flights on the same route with the same takeoff time was changed to American Airlines Flight 25. These flights now use a Boeing 737-800 instead of a Boeing 767. An American flag is flown on the jet bridge of gate B32 from which Flight 11 departed Logan Airport. [67]

On April 26, 2013, a piece of the wing flap mechanism from a Boeing 767 was discovered wedged between two buildings at Park Place, near where other landing gear parts were found. [68] [69]

At the National September 11 Memorial, the names of the 87 victims of Flight 11 are inscribed on the North Pool, on Panels N-1 and N-2, and Panels N-74 – N-76. [70]

Nationalities of people on the aircraft

Note: This list does not include the nationalities of the five hijackers.

NationalityPassengersCrewTotal
United States671178
Colombia and United States202
Canada and United States101
India and United States101
Ireland and United States101
Israel and United States101
Japan and United States101
Lebanon and United Kingdom101
Uruguay and Australia101
Total761187

See also

Related Research Articles

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External image
Searchtool.svg Picture of aircraft Pre 9/11