NTSB: Records still need investigating, but both pilots killed in crash qualified

RAW: NTSB holds second news conference on deadly Akron plane crash
Akron plane crash scene. (Source: NTSB)
Akron plane crash scene. (Source: NTSB)
Akron plane crash scene. (Source: NTSB)
Akron plane crash scene. (Source: NTSB)
Akron plane crash scene. (Source: NTSB)
Akron plane crash scene. (Source: NTSB)
Akron plane crash scene. (Source: NTSB)
Akron plane crash scene. (Source: NTSB)

AKRON, OH (WOIO) - The NTSB held a second news conference on Thursday offering an update on the investigation into Tuesday's deadly plane crash in Akron. It now has had a full day of investigation on site.

According to NTSB Vice Chair Bella Dinh-Zarr, many groups around the country are assisting in the investigation, from listening to recordings, to examining the aircraft's flight controls, landing gear and maintenance records. Dinh-Zarr says modifications made to aircrafts must be reported to the FAA, so records should be available if something was changed.

Dinh-Zarr says investigation has determined the plane was intact before impact.

"We found no evidence to indicate that the airplane was not intact prior to impact," said Dinh-Zarr. "The landing gear was found in the down position and the flaps were extended. Flight control continuity has been established."

On Wednesday, teams recovered the cockpit voice recorder. It has been sent to labs in Washington, D.C. to be further examined.

"The exterior of the CVR was damaged by fire. The CVR tape itself showed no evidence of damage and contained a 30 minute recording of poor quality," said Dinh-Zarr.

Dinh-Zarr says the crew could be heard discussing weather conditions, including the wind, along with landing. She says the sounds of impact were also recorded.

The data engine recorder and ground proximity warning system still need to be found, according to Dinh-Zarr, as they were some of the only systems available on the plane. Dinh-Zarr says there will be a very detailed examination of these recordings to learn more about what happened.

Dinh-Zarr also says contact with air traffic control in Cleveland will be examined, since it is heard giving pilots a vector to put them on the correct flight path for a localized approach to the runway. The aircraft is heard following instructions and adjusting altitude and air speed, then intercepting the approach. However, the aircraft was later advised to switch to the frequency of the airport, but had no further communication.

Medical and flight records of the two pilots are still being collected from the FAA, according to Dinh-Zarr, but both pilots were very qualified. They each held Air Transport Pilot certificates, the highest level given by the FAA. Additionally, both held first class medical certificates from the FAA. Dinh-Zarr says the pilot had more than 6,000 hours of experience and the co-pilot had 4,500 hours.

It is still a very active scene on Mogadore Road. NTSB crews worked late into the night and returned Thursday to remove the plane that crashed into an apartment building. Teams are also inspecting nearby homes and vehicles for evidence of plane parts.

Mangled metal is all that remains at the scene, and two days later, investigators with the NTSB are in the process of examining an overwhelming amount of evidence. Teams are still examining witness marks, power lines that were struck, trees that may have been hit, as well as surveillance video from the area.

At a news conference, NTSB officials say it's too early to pin down a cause of why the plane crashed, but investigators continue gathering evidence to learn what went wrong so another crash can be prevented. Dinh-Zarr made it clear that the NTSB does not determine probable cause while on scene or speculate.

"We'll be examining the cable continuity for the flight controls, and prepare the engines for shipment to Honeywell. We will also gather information on the flight crew including experience and training, as well as gathering information on the aircraft itself, including maintenance," said Dinh-Zarr.

The NTSB also said no distress calls were heard from the plane.

Eight of the nine people on board have been identified. The co-pilot has yet to be confirmed.

Crews are expected to be at the scene for at least two more days, but Dinh-Zarr says they will stay as long as it takes. Anyone who may have information that could help investigators can e-mail eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov.

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