2002-05-11 / Front Page

NTSB Rules Out Sabotage On 587

By Howard Schwach

By Howard Schwach


A recent news conference gave reporters an opportunity to see part of the wreckage of American Airlines Flight 587. The photo shows a number of them looking at portions of the plane's tail section.A recent news conference gave reporters an opportunity to see part of the wreckage of American Airlines Flight 587. The photo shows a number of them looking at portions of the plane's tail section.

After an intensive investigation of the fuselage and tail of the Airbus A300 that crashed in Belle Harbor in November of 2001, no evidence has been found that the crash was anything but an accident involving the tail section of the aircraft, according to Marion Blakely, the Chairperson for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

"There was no evidence of engine failure, no contact with birds, no fire and no bomb," Blakely told reporters at a press conference held at a NASA facility in Hampton, Virginia.

Blakely said that the NTSB is now looking at two possibilities: Either the tail was not designed to handle the stresses it encountered or the tail was weakened by a previously unseen flaw, either undetected damage or a tail section that was not built to specification.

"I believe that we are making good progress in understanding the sequence of the breakup and separation of the rudder," Blakely added. "But we won’t have any conclusive results for some time."

"I wish we had the answers," she concluded "We are really trying to go down every path."

Despite Blakely’s claims, however, a number of Rockaway residents continue to argue that they saw smoke and flame coming from the fuselage of the plane prior to its crash.

"It is hard to understand how NTSB officials can say that they are sure that there was no fire and no explosion, when neither the NTSB nor the FBI have interviewed any of the eyewitnesses," one such eyewitness to the crash, who asked not to be identified, told The Wave. "There are firefighters, police officers, construction workers and many others who saw the flames and the smoke. They are credible witnesses, but nobody wants to hear what they have to say."

Reporters who attended the Virginia news conference were given a chance to view the tail from Flight 587 and to see some of the testing.

"This is going to be a long process," Blakely told reporters. "This is the first time that we have an accident involving not metal, but composite material. "We do not think that the composite material degrades with time, but we are doing the testing that you see here to make sure."

NTSB officials say that there will most likely be a public "Docket Meeting" to provide a final report that will be held in Washington, D.C. sometime late in the summer or early in the fall.


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