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Voice recorder located in Illinois plane collision


Communication breakdown suspected in crash that killed 14

November 20, 1996
Web posted at: 12:30 p.m. EST

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QUINCY, Illinois (CNN) -- Investigators trying to find out what caused a fiery runway collision between two planes said Wednesday they had located, but not yet retrieved, the cockpit voice recorder from one of them. All 14 people aboard both planes died in the accident Tuesday near Quincy, Illinois. icon (244K/22 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

A commuter plane, United Express flight 5925, was carrying two crew members and 10 passengers and had just landed at Baldwin Municipal Airport about 5 p.m. when it collided with a private plane taking off with two people, officials said.

If the cockpit voice recorder from the United Express Beech 1900 aircraft survived the crash, it would provide investigators with a record of radio traffic between the pilots and other aircraft in the area as well as conversations inside the plane, George Black Jr. of the National Transportation Safety Board told reporters at an outdoor briefing carried live on CNN.

No control tower

Black said a recording of radio traffic is believed to have been made by the regional air traffic control center in the area.

He said no recordings were believed to have been made at the airport, which has no tower or air traffic controllers. Arriving and departing flights are expected to announce their location and intentions on a common radio channel.

Crash scene

Observers at Baldwin Municipal Airport, located about eight miles from Quincy, said the commuter flight was following procedures, even calling the smaller King Air turbo prop at one point to ask if it was going to continue holding.

The smaller plane, however, apparently was transmitting a radio message at the same time and did not hear the call.

"Vigilance is required on the part of all aircraft," said Black, noting that many airports without towers efficiently handle flights every day.

Bodies remain at crash site

The 14 charred bodies remained in the wreckage Wednesday as investigators arrived to determined what caused the crash. The bodies will be brought to a morgue after NTSB officials inspect the scene, local authorities said.

"This is a fact-finding activity," said Tom Haueter, who will be leading the NTSB's investigation. He said no attempt had been made yet to analyze why the accident occurred. icon (162K/14 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

Black said that there was "very little left" of the two planes. The tail section of the United Express plane was the largest piece of either aircraft to remain intact. icon (159KK/14 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

Some victims unidentified

George Rasmusson, executive vice president of United Express, said Flight 5925 originated in Chicago and had stopped in Burlington, Iowa, before proceeding to Quincy, Illinois. It was to return to Chicago.

The private plane was believed to have been operated by a man and woman from St. Louis, Missouri, who have not yet been identified. It was not immediately known where they were headed.


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