11-14-2001, 03:46 AM
Join Date: Sep 2001
Theories on crash eliminated
Federal investigators said yesterday the co-pilot of doomed American Airlines Flight 587 called for "max power" four seconds after the frame of his A300 Airbus was rattled twice, possibly by the wake of a larger plane.
Nineteen seconds later, both engines and the tail inexplicably began tearing free of the plane, which had just taken off for Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, from John F. Kennedy International Airport. The pieces and the rest of the aircraft began falling in a straight line down into the ground. All 260 persons aboard were killed, as apparently were five persons missing from homes that the plane hit.
National Transportation Safety Board officials all but ruled out bird strikes or spontaneous disintegration of engine parts as causes of Monday's crash during a dramatic news conference where NTSB Chairman Marion C. Blakey said the probe was "coming to a head."
Her unusual optimism about the search for an answer so soon, and elimination of several important theories so early in an investigation of a major airline disaster, were extraordinary.
Mrs. Blakey said the Airbus' rudder was pulled yesterday from Jamaica Bay, where the tailfin was found Monday. The find increased the riddle of why tail sections would fall first, even before the denser engine that apparently broke loose in flight.
"The most perplexing issue is what the vertical stabilizer was doing in the water, virtually untouched. They've got to figure out why that happened," said Peter Goelz, former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board. He said that if the tail had been knocked off by an engine tearing from its wing mounts, the engine also would be in the water, closer to Kennedy Airport than the large white tailfin.
Daniel A. Baker -- firstname.lastname@example.org
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