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Commuter Plane Crashes Before Takeoff in North Carolina

Aired January 8, 2003 - 10:14   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Leon, right now, we have with us on the phone Carol Carmody. She is the acting chairman of the NTSB.
Carol, thank you for joining us.

What can you tell us about guessing your investigators to the scene in Charlotte?

CAROL CARMODY, ACTING CHAIRMAN, NTSB: Well, we are assembling a team now. We have about a dozen people, including experts in operations, aircraft systems, airworthiness, weather. They'll be assembling and flying out of Washington at about 12:30 today on a government plane. They will arrive on scene, I hope, within a couple of hours and start organizing into teams, looking for the cockpit voice recorder and doing whatever else they can do on scene the first day.

KAGAN: With this small type of commuter aircraft, do you have the same type of black boxes and voice data recorders that you would on a bigger commercial airline?

CARMODY: On this plane, a cockpit voice recorder is required. A flight data recorder is not required. So I would expect we have a cockpit voice recorder and not an FDR?

KAGAN: How might that hinder you in the investigation?

CARMODY: Just as in a recent accident with Senator Wellstone, there's a wealth of information that's captured on the flight data recorder. If we don't have that, it makes the investigation more difficult and frequently takes a little bit longer?

KAGAN: What kind of early information are you getting on this crash?

CARMODY: Really, probably not much more than you're getting. We're eager to have our team on the ground, and we'll be hearing from them on the ground as soon as they arrive. It's pretty much what we hear on the news.

KAGAN: Understandable. This is the kind of streak you do not want to see broken. Last year, no one died aboard a passenger or cargo airliner in the U.S. That's the kind of safety streak you would rather, I'm sure, you would like to keep going.

CARMODY: Absolutely. This is a sad day, and our hearts are with the families of those who lost people today. KAGAN: Carol Carmody, acting chairman of the NTSB, thank you. We'll check back with you as we get more information and you get your investigators on the ground and find out exactly what went wrong there in Charlotte this morning.

CARMODY: I expect the team will have a press conference this afternoon, probably as soon as they get a few fact together. The board member on board will is Mr. John Golia (ph), and the investigator is Mrs. Render Ward (ph), so those are the two principles.

KAGAN: I can guarantee we'll hold that news conference live right here on CNN. Thank you, ma'am. Appreciate it so much.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: While we wait for that, let's talk with a former board member of the NTSB, Peter Goelz, who has been a frequent guest with us, and unfortunately, to talk about incidents like this.

Peter, thank you for joining us.

What jumps first and foremost to your mind after hearing the reports that you've heard so far about what happened there?

PETER GOELZ, FMR. NTSB BOARD MEMBER: Well, I think first of all, it's very -- all this information is preliminary. But clearly, when the plane gets into difficulty, just after takeoff, it is a very challenging point for the pilot. If he lost an engine, just at V-1, which for this aircraft, is probably about 110 knots, he is really got his hands full right away. And if there were any complicating factors like a crosswind or anything like that, he would clearly have his hands full.

HARRIS: We did hear reports of gusting winds there at the airport.

GOELZ: So it would be a challenging event for who ever was flying the plane at that point if there were some sort of catastrophic engine failure. And as was mentioned earlier, if it was a catastrophic event, one of the engines, and it disturbed the airflow on of the wings of a piece of -- the engine tore up the wing, that would make it even more difficult to control the aircraft.

HARRIS: What do you know about the Beechcraft 1900D, which is what we believe it was. Have you ever investigated a crash in the past with this type of aircraft? We understand there have been six or so in the history have the aircraft.

GOELZ: There have been a few accidents with the Beech 1900. It's a workhorse. It's been around quite a while. I recall an accident in Quincy, Illinois, I think the was 1997, in which there was a runway collision between the Beech 1900, a computer aircraft, that had just landed and a private aircraft, and in that case, the attention really focused on the survival factors within the Beech 1900. I should note that John Golia (ph), who is the board member going down to represent the board at this accident, took an extraordinary amount of interest in the Beech 1900 accident in Quincy. So he is extraordinarily familiar with this type of aircraft and with the operating procedures that go along with it. He's a pro.

HARRIS: You say that incident in Quincy that involved a runway collision, do you know, to your knowledge has there been any other kind of dent that would be in anyway similar to what we've seen here with this aircraft?

GOELZ: I am not familiar with that. You're going to have to check the databases, but certainly not in the last five years.

HARRIS: I understand. What about -- now you say you were looking at the survivability issues after that crash there. Do you know of any changes that were made in the aircraft since then?

GOELZ: Well, there were discussions about how efficiently you could open the hatches of the Beech 1900 after the Quincy accident. And there were recommendations made specifically to fire and rescue folks on how to be trained to get those hatches open. But apparently, those kinds of recommendations apparently were not of any attributes to today's accident.

HARRIS: Unfortunately, that wouldn't have made a different today, seeing as this plane was traveling at takeoff speed and was fully loaded with fuel when it made impact with this building.


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