Investigators say that preliminary evidence gathered from the various crash sites of American Airlines Flight 587 in Queens, N.Y., did not indicate engine failure or evidence of a criminal act.
"Initial inspection shows no evidence of any sort of internal failure of engines," said George Black, an investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). He added that there was no evidence that birds had been sucked into the engines, another possible cause for the crash that has been suggested by some experts. The engines will be sent to the American Airlines maintenance facility in Tulsa, Okla., for a thorough examination.
The plane''s rudder and vertical tail were found floating in Jamaica Bay, about a half a mile from the impact site in the Rockaway section of Queens. Black said investigators are "looking at them more carefully."
Jim Hall, former NTSB chairman, said he''s never seen a tail section that was sheared off a plane so cleanly, though what that means in terms of the crash or its causes is still unknown.
The black boxes were retrieved from the crash sites. Investigators say that sounds recorded by the cockpit voice recorder indicates the plane rattled violently twice before the crash occurred and the pilot was heard mentioning "weight turbulence". The NTSB said that only the voices of the pilot and copilot are on the tape.
After the sound of the second rattling on board the plan, Black said the copilot asks for maximum power. Then there were "several comments suggesting loss of control," added Black. The tape ended 17 seconds after those comments.
Black noted that the rattling or shuddering of the plane was violent enough for the crew to make note of it. "Sounds are important," he added. "All sorts of clunks and clinks can be identified."
The cockpit data recorder was so badly damaged that it had to be cut open to retrieve the data. Experts are analyzing the data and will eventually try to match up data retrieved from that recorder with sounds and comments heard on the voice recorder.
Flight 587 carried 251 passengers and a crew of nine. Five people are still missing on the ground. The plane crashed into a largely residential area.
On Monday, Don Carty, chairman, president and CEO of American Airlines admitted, "It is a sad day... Our primary concern will be to provide support to the families of our passengers and employees lost [in the crash], to all of our employees and to the people on the ground in NY."
Continued Carty, "As you would imagine, [this] news comes at a difficult time for the nation, for the airline industry and for American Airlines. Given the changed world we live in today, it will be as important as it has ever been to quickly and accurately determine the cause of this accident."
by Sandy Smith