Atlas Air Flight 3591

Atlas Air Flight 3591 was a scheduled domestic cargo flight operating for Amazon Air between Miami International Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. On February 23, 2019, the Boeing 767-375ER(BCF) operating this flight crashed into Trinity Bay during approach into Houston, killing the two crew members and one passenger on board. The accident occurred near Anahuac, Texas, east of Houston, shortly before 12:45 CST (18:45 UTC).[2][3][4] Debris was found in the shallow waters of Trinity Bay, ranging from small articles of clothing to large aircraft parts.

Atlas Air Flight 3591
Prime Air (47137434372)
N1217A, the Boeing 767 involved, seen nine days before the accident
Date23 February 2019
SummaryCrashed during approach; under investigation
SiteTrinity Bay; near Anahuac, Texas
29°45′50″N 94°42′53″W / 29.76389°N 94.71472°WCoordinates: 29°45′50″N 94°42′53″W / 29.76389°N 94.71472°W
Aircraft typeBoeing 767-375(ER)(BCF)
Aircraft nameCustomAir Obsession[1]
OperatorAtlas Air for Amazon Air
IATA flight No.5Y3591
ICAO flight No.GTI3591
Call signGIANT 3591
Flight originMiami International Airport, Miami, Florida
DestinationGeorge Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, Texas


Atlas Air 3591 was on approach towards Houston, when it made a sharp turn south before going into a rapid descent. Witnesses to the crash described the plane entering a nosedive; some also recalled hearing "what sounded like lightning" before the Boeing 767 hit the ground.[5][6]

At 12:36 CST (18:36 UTC) radar and radio contact was lost. There was no distress call.[7] Shortly before 12:45 CST (18:45 UTC), Flight 3591 crashed into the north end of Trinity Bay at Jack's Pocket.[3] The area of water is within Chambers County, Texas and is in proximity to Anahuac.[8]

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an alert after radar and radio contact was lost around 30 miles (50 km) southeast of its destination.[9] Air traffic controllers tried at least twice to contact the flight, with no response. Controllers asked pilots aboard two nearby flights if they saw a crash site, both of whom said they did not.[10]

The United States Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter and several boats to search for survivors. Numerous other agencies responded as well. The largest piece of aircraft debris found was less than 50 ft (15 m) in length. Some of the debris had the Amazon logo visible. The accident site was only accessible via airboat and helicopter.

The water varies in depth from zero to five feet (1.5 m) deep and is partially mud marsh.[11]

[Full screen]
Map of Crash Site


The Boeing 767-375ER (MSN 25865/430) aircraft was registered N1217A and was nearly 27 years old at the time of the accident, having been built in 1992. It was originally ordered by Canadian Airlines, but first placed into service by China Southern Airlines through GPA, an aircraft leasing company.[12] In 1997, it was transferred to LAN Airlines and flown for 19 years before being stored in January 2016. It was converted into a freighter in April 2017, and placed into service for Amazon Prime Air by Atlas Air.[13] In August 2018, Amazon named two aircraft in its fleet, including N1217A as CustomAir Obsession. The name, painted on the aircraft just aft of the cockpit windows,[14] was a near homonym of "customer obsession", an Amazon leadership principle.[15] The aircraft had accumulated more than 91,063 hours over 23,316 flights,[16][17] and was powered by two GE CF6-80 turbofan engines.[18]


There were three people onboard the aircraft.[19] On February 24, Atlas Air confirmed that all three died.[4][20]

Captain Ricky Blakely of Indiana, First Officer Conrad Jules Aska of Antigua, and Mesa Airlines Captain Sean Archuleta of Houston (a jumpseater aboard the flight) were first identified as the three victims on social media by friends and family. Sean Archuleta was in his final week of employment at Mesa Airlines, and was traveling home before beginning new-hire pilot training with United Airlines, scheduled for the following week.[21] By 26 February the bodies of all three had been recovered, and by 4 March all had been positively identified.[22]


NTSB Trinity Bay Debris (32271873437)
NTSB investigators examine debris at the edge of Trinity Bay
Atlas Air Flight Recorders (47218247282)
NTSB investigators recover the flight data recorder from Trinity Bay

Investigators from the FAA, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) were dispatched to the accident site, with the NTSB leading the accident investigation.[23] A dive team from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) was tasked with locating the aircraft's flight recorders, and dive teams from the Houston and Baytown police departments were also on-scene, assisting in the search.[24] The cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder were located and transported to an NTSB lab for analysis.[25][26] It was thought that crews would likely remain at the accident site for weeks for recovery.[27]

As of March 2019, the cause of the accident had not been determined.[28] It was noted that storm cells were nearby at the time of the accident, but this is not unusual for Bush Intercontinental.[29] CCTV cameras at the Chambers County jail show the airplane in a steep, nose-low descent just prior to impact.[30][31]

The FAA, Boeing, Atlas Air, National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), International Brotherhood of Teamsters (the pilots' labor union), Air Line Pilots Association,[32] and engine maker General Electric are assisting or have offered their assistance to the NTSB inquiry.[33]

After listening to the cockpit voice recorder the NTSB stated that "Crew communications consistent with a loss of control of the aircraft began approximately 18 seconds prior to the end of the recording".[28] On March 12 the NTSB stated that the airplane "pitched nose down over the next 18 seconds to about 49° in response to column input." Later that same day the statement was changed to " response to nose-down elevator deflection".[17][34]


On May 20, 2019 the estate of Captain Sean Archuleta filed a suit against Amazon and Atlas Air in federal court. The suit accuses the defendants of failing to operate the aircraft in a safe manner.[35]

On September 9, 2019, the family of first officer Conrad Jules Aska filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Amazon and Atlas Air, citing improper training and negligence.[36]


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Transportation Safety Board.

  1. ^ "Taking flight". August 21, 2018.
  2. ^ "Cargo jet with three reported aboard crashes in water near Houston". NBC News.
  3. ^ a b Josephs, Leslie (February 23, 2019). "Atlas Air Flight 3591: Cargo jet crashes near Houston with 3 aboard".
  4. ^ a b "Atlas Air Confirms Family Assistance Established in Flight 3591 Accident". Atlas Air Worldwide. February 24, 2019. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  5. ^ Kennedy, Megan; Taylor, Brittany; Aufdenspring, Matt (February 23, 2019). "3 presumed dead after cargo jet nose-dived into Trinity Bay, sheriff says". KPRC.
  6. ^ Wrigley, Deborah (February 24, 2019). "Witnesses recall moments before Atlas Air cargo plane crash in Chambers Co". ABC13 Houston. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  7. ^ "One victim identified in deadly cargo jet crash in Chambers County". Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  8. ^ "Human remains found after Atlas Air cargo plane crashes in Chambers Co". KTRK-TV. February 23, 2019. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  9. ^ Law, Tara. "Cargo Boeing 767 Plane, Carrying 3, Crashes Into Texas Bay". Time. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  10. ^ Warren, David; Bleiberg, Jake (February 24, 2019). "Sheriff: No likely survivors in jetliner crash near Houston". Associated Press. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  11. ^ "Human remains found cargo plane crash in Chambers Co". ABC13 Houston. February 23, 2019. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  12. ^ "Amazon Cargo Aircraft Crashes on Flight 3591". February 25, 2019. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  13. ^ Mollenhauer, Alec (October 21, 2017). "Tracking Amazon Prime Air's fleet: aircraft from six continents and 35 airlines". Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  14. ^ Sales, Luis (November 22, 2018). "Optimus' cousin, N1217A, CustomAir Obsession". Retrieved February 26, 2019 – via Facebook.
  15. ^ "Leadership Principles". Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  16. ^ "[UPDATE 8] Atlas Air Boeing 767 Operating for Amazon Prime Air Crashes". Aviation Tribune. February 24, 2019. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  17. ^ a b "Atlas Air #3591 crashed into Trinity Bay DCA19MA086". National Transportation Safety Board. DCA19MA086. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
  18. ^ "FAA Registry, N1217A". Federal Aviation Administration. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  19. ^ Collman, Ashley. "Breaking news: Boeing 767 cargo plane crashes in Texas, reportedly killing all three on board". INSIDER.
  20. ^ Hughes, Trevor. "Three confirmed dead after Amazon Prime Air cargo plane crash in Texas". USA Today. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  21. ^ Schuetz, R. A. (February 24, 2019). "3 confirmed dead after Boeing 767 cargo plane's nose dive into Trinity Bay". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  22. ^ Jordan, Jay R. (March 4, 2019). "Pilot's remains positively identified in deadly Atlas Air cargo plane crash". CBS News. Houston Chronicle. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  23. ^ CNN, Steve Almasy and Hollie Silverman. "Cargo jet with 3 aboard crashes in Texas". CNN.
  24. ^ "Two bodies recovered after a cargo plane crashes in water near Houston". CNN. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  25. ^ "Black box recovered at Amazon plane crash site in Anahuac". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  26. ^ CNN, Amir Vera. "NTSB recovers flight data recorder from cargo plane crash near Houston". CNN. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  27. ^ "Sheriff: No likely survivors in jetliner crash near Houston". WHEC News10NBC. February 23, 2019. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  28. ^ a b "NTSB Laboratory Completes Initial Review of Cockpit Voice Recorder, Recovers Flight Data Recorder". National Transportation Safety Board. March 5, 2019. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  29. ^ Scherer, Jasper; Despart, Zach (February 23, 2019). "Sheriff: 'I don't believe anyone could survive' cargo plane's nose dive into Trinity Bay". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  30. ^ Josephs, Leslie (February 24, 2019). "Atlas Air Flight 3591: NTSB starts investigation into cargo jet crash". CNBC.
  31. ^ "Air disaster Boeing 767-375ER crash in Trinity Bay, near Anahuac, USA". YouTube. February 27, 2019.
  32. ^ "ALPA Statement on Atlas Air Flight 3591 Accident". ALPA. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  33. ^ Hemmerdinger, Jon. "Video shows Atlas 767F in 'steep' dive prior to crash: NTSB". Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  34. ^ "NTSB update on Atlas Air B767 crash: nose pitched down to about 49° 'in response to elevator deflection'". ASN News. March 12, 2019. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  35. ^ Yates, David. "Amazon, Atlas Air sued for fatal aircraft crash in Trinity Bay". SE Texas Record. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  36. ^ Premack, Rachel. "The family of a pilot who died in this year's Amazon Air fatal crash is suing Amazon and cargo contractors claiming poor safety standards". Business Insider. Retrieved October 8, 2019.

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