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NTSB Spokesman Gives Update On North Carolina Plane Crash

Aired January 8, 2003 - 00:00   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: right now we take you live to Charlotte, North Carolina, where the director of operations at the Charlotte-Douglas international airport is talking to reporters about today's crash.
JOHN GOGLIA, NTSB: Our team members have all arrived and we have now taken control of the site that was mentioned, and our work has already commenced. The medical examiner is in the process of recovering the remains of all of the victims of this accident. And before I even proceed I'd like to extend my deepest condolences to the NTSB and the rest of the staff and the city folks as well, to the families and friends of people that perished in this accident.

We are working as we speak to remove the wreckage to find the, what we think is the voice recorder. I just moments ago walked by. We have what we believe to be the flight data recorder. And we have an airplane standing by to take those To Washington as soon as we get the other box, or no later than 6:30 when we take the box we do have to Washington, to give us some initial indications of what may have happened.

We have some eyewitnesses. We have interviewed a number of the people who worked the flight before it left, and that work will continue through the night. We will have another briefing later this evening, at a real location out here in the field. We're searching the site as we speak. And the point of contact for the press will be Keith Hollaway (ph). Most of you know who Keith is. And other than that, any questions -- we don't have any facts, but whatever we have we'll give you. One at a time.


GOGLIA: One at a time.

QUESTION: I know you're supposed to get down to the scene today.

GOGLIA: Five minutes after we arrived.

QUESTION: How long have investigators actually been down there and what are they doing right now?

GOGLAI: Our investigators have been here since about 2:00 I would say, and we're documenting where the wreckage is. The path that the airplane took and documenting things like where the flight data recorder was found. Where the victims are found. Some of the pieces were thrown away from the site. And we're documenting where those pieces were found as well. QUESTIONS: What did you tell us about the communication between the tower and the crew?

GOGLAI: I have been told, I haven't heard a tape, but I have been told that one of the crew members declared an emergency. Said, we have an emergency. That's the extent of our knowledge of that right now. We do -- as you all know, the tapes have all been sequester and we will get to that, probably by tomorrow.

QUESTION: How wide is the area of damage? How wide is the area of damage?

GOGLAI: The crash site itself is very contained. Very, very contained. So -- and there's not much that has escaped that area. It's very compact.

QUESTION: If you send recorders to Washington tonight, when would you get some information would be available?

GOGLAI: We will work on those immediately when they land. They're waiting for them.

Nice and loud.


GOGLIA: I do know -- I heard it. The captain had -- don't hold me to these numbers exactly, but something over 2500 hours total time. 1800 hours (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and that's the important number. So that's a significant time flying the airplane. And the first officer, I believe was 700-some-odd hours in type so that's -- we don't know which was the pilot in command at this time yet.

QUESTION: Just to clarify, you got the flight data recorder?

GOGLAI: We think it's the flight data recorder.

QUESTION: What's the status of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

GOGLAI: They're looking for it. And the flight data recorder, and I'm the one saying that the flight data recorder, because I sort of recognize it, given my past. The voice recorder is in the same area, but it wasn't obvious in the pile of wreckage right there. They brought in a listening device, a forklift, to pick up that wreckage and look for the box.

QUESTION: Is there indication from any report where the malfunction was?

GOGLAI: Nothing that I know.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) do you have any witnesses?

GOGLAI: Witnesses have said the propellers were turning. We have no way of verifying that. But the witnesses said they were turning. QUESTION: What part of the plane -- what part of the plane hit the building it self?

GOGLAI: The wing

QUESTION: What do you know about the planes maintenance record and when was it last seen.

GOGLAI: We haven't got any of that yet. Rest assured we'll be going after it.

QUESTION: Is it the same plane that had trouble with its landing gear Monday morning?

GOGLIA: Don't know yet.


GOGLIA: As the plane originated -- yes. I knew were you going ask that, Lynchburg, Virginia.


GOGLIA: We -- I don't know that yet. That's on our list.

QUESTION: Were any of the victims thrown from the plane?



QUESTION: Do you know if -- sorry if this was already asked. Do you know if there was any recent maintenance done on this plane.

GOGLIA: We don't know yet.

QUESTION: John, how long did the crew (OFF-MIKE).

GOGLIA: No. I have to assume they got on duty the first thing this morning in Virginia. So that's only an hour flight. Not even.

QUESTION: The plane took off, flew about 1800 feet, got to an altitude of what, maybe 100 feet, do you know?

GOGLIA: Conflicting witness reports. Anywhere from 100 feet to much more. We'll have to wait and see what the recorders tell us. To much more. Depends who you ask. Pick a number.

QUESTION are not a point where we are building (OFF-MIKE)



GOGLIA: Obviously. QUESTION: John, we know you're dealing with facts and don't like to say anything on speculation. Anything right now out of the ordinary that you see about this crash?

GOGLIA: It's too early to say that. Too early to say anything. I mean, we have a pretty compact debris field. Many pieces are not recognizable to most. So we need a little time.

QUESTON: Is it a possibility the plane was overloaded?

GOGLIA: That's always a possibility. We'll check that. One of the things we normally do check passenger weight, check the load. We already have the load sheet from the folks. We're going to interview the people who loaded the airplane. I mean, that's all standard procedure for us to go through. That's always a concern on every airplane, big or small.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) and how much was it carrying at the time.

GOGLIA: All of that. We'll know.

QUESTION: Do you know anything...

GOGLIA: We have that documentation. I don't know it off the top of my head.


GOGLIA: It's way too early.

QUESTION: People were talking about a steep incline of the plane? have witnesses told you anything about that?

GOGLIA: Yes. We have heard it came down at a steep angle. I have to remind everybody that witness statements are not always the most reliable source of information. So we will take what witnesses tell us, and compare that against the recorders and any other information we have before we say what it was doing.



GOGLIA: No. I don't know how many [ inaudible ] --.

QUESTION: What will the wreckage already tell you? from what you've seen, what will it ultimately tell you?

GOGLIA: Wreckages, they tell the story. If you watch a crime scene, we all do it. They tell a story. That's how we make our living, going through and looking at these -- looking at the wreckage and looking at things on the ground other things and put the puzzle back together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (OFF-MIKE) right now because we don't have a lot of information, more information, we'll be back up here to let everyone know as far as when the next briefing will be held? I will also let you knee as well.

How many were on here, had just gotten on here and many were (OFF-MIKE)

GOGLIA: I -- he asked the question, how many passengers originated in Charlotte and how many came from elsewhere. And it's my understanding, although i don't -- this is not hard information. It's my understanding that everybody came from somewhere else.

QUESTION: Including the crew?

GOGLIA: No. I don't know if they're based here. Well, they got on in Charlotte. But they may -- that may not have been their first flight of the day. They may have come from Pittsburgh, and sort of -- who knows where. But there was no solid patterns on getting on.

QUESTION: Do you have any other indication about where the passengers came from?

GOGLIA: No. And I only heard that in passing. We'll have to confirm that. But somebody did say that to me.

QUESTION: How many adults and how many children?

GOGLIA: I understand only one child. An 11-year-old.

QUESTION: A boy or girl?

GOGLIA: I think was a boy. Memory, you know, may not be accurate.

QUESTION: Was he traveling with his parents?

GOGLIA: I don't know the answer to that, either.

QUESTION: Have you ruled out there was either any jump seat passengers or infants who not on the manifest?

GOGLIA: Have not.

QUESTION: So, that's still a possibility?

GOGLIA: The manifest didn't have them on there. You know how sometimes people carry a baby in their arms.


GOGLIA: Excuse me?

QUESTION: There were no flight atttendants?

GOGLIA: I don't -- I don't know the answer to that.

QUESTION: Any concern for other planes of this same model?

GOGLIA: Excuse me? QUESTION: Any concern for other planes of this same model?

GOGLIA: We've had a number of previous accidents with commuter airlines so we always are concerned with commuter airplanes. But there's no indication that this airplane or any of the others having any systemic or long-term problems. We -- don't forget, it's kind of our normal operating procedure. We will ask all of those questions, look at all of the data.

QUESTION: How long will it take?

GOGLIA: As long as it takes. Remember, Alaska Airlines took three years. We just finished that one. It was a previous 737 accident that we spent five years on. However long it takes to get done, that's how long we're going to be here.

QUESTION: Did the left wing hit the building? Did the left wing sheared off? Was it left wing, right wing?

GOGLIA: I can't -- it looks like it was the left wing, but, again, that's my own personal opinion from what I see. We'll have to wait and...

QUESTION: Was the airplane upside down at that point?

GOGLIA: Some people have said that. I don't know that to be true.

QUESTION: Was it a glancing blow or was it...

GOGLIA: No. A solid hit.

QUESTION: What about reports of a steep incline?

GOGLIA: OK. It's all unclear. Remember what I said about witness statements. People get excited and things happen. It's not that they're not telling us the truth. They're telling us what they saw, and sometimes we don't see things exactly the way they happened. There's also -- the eyewitness statements are all over the map.

QUESTION: What about the pilots planning -- reporting an in- flight emergency? The pilot reporting an in-flight emergency?

GOGLIA: There was a radio transmission that I think said we have an emergency. Don't quote that, I'm not clear that's what it is. But there was a transmission said something about an emergency.


GOGLIA: What? I have not heard a tape of that.

QUESTION: Witnesses said they saw both props turning?


QUESTION: Counter rotating props or is that a critical engine? GOGLIA: No. You mean left and right? No, they rotate at the same direction. Whatever I have tonight, I promise you, I'll give it to you.


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