2002-06-08 / Front Page

Wave To Host Flight 587 Witness Meeting NTSB Will Hear Eyewitness Accounts

By Howard Schwach

Wave To Host Flight 587 Witness Meeting
NTSB Will Hear Eyewitness Accounts
By Howard Schwach


It was not clear at press time whether the information to be released at that time includes the transcript from the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), at critical piece of information that many locals believe is the key to solving the mystery of why flight 587 crashed.It was not clear at press time whether the information to be released at that time includes the transcript from the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), at critical piece of information that many locals believe is the key to solving the mystery of why flight 587 crashed.

After more than six months of investigating the cause of the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in Belle Harbor on November 12, 2001, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has finally addressed the question of the hundreds of eyewitness statements received from residents of Rockaway, Brooklyn and other parts of Queens.

In order to provide those same eyewitnesses with a forum that will allow them to tell what they saw as well as a chance to speak with each other, The Wave is hosting a public meeting on the subject at the Beach Club (Beach 116 Street and the Boardwalk) on Wednesday evening, July 10 at 7:30 p.m.

Congressman Anthony Weiner, who has been invited to the meeting, has said that he will attempt to insure that an NTSB spokesperson will attend the meeting. In addition, a number of experts, including an A300-600 pilot and Vic Trombettas, the host of usread.com have been invited.

According to an NTSB spokesperson, the agency has received 349 accounts from eyewitnesses, "either through direct interviews or through written statements."

Those statements often provide conflicting information.

For example, 52 percent specifically reported seeing a fire while the plane was in the air. Eight percent reported seeing an explosion while the plane was still airborne. Twenty-two percent reported smoke coming from the plane prior to the crash.

On the other hand, 20 percent reported specifically seeing no smoke at all while the plane was in the air. Another 20 percent specifically said that there was no fire.

About the same number of eyewitnesses reported the plane in a left turn (18 percent) as reported that the plane was in a right turn (19 percent).

Of those who reported that they saw a fire on the plane, 22 percent said that the fire was on the fuselage. Others reported the fire in one engine or another or on one wing or another.

Thirteen percent reported that the plane was "wobbling" or "spinning" when it crashed.

More than half (57 percent) said that they saw pieces of the plane come off prior to the crash.

Of those who filed reports, three-quarters (74 percent) said that they saw the plane while it was airborne and then watched as it descended into Belle Harbor.

Tom Lynch, a retired firefighter who saw the plane in flight, is one of the leaders of the movement to find out what happened to the aircraft.

"I saw the plane," Lynch told reporters. "It has a small contained explosion in the fuselage. The explosion was probably the size of a small automobile. The tail was still on the plane at the time and it continued to fly towards Rockaway."

Lynch says that he provided a statement to the NTSB, but that no attempt was made to interview him in person about what he saw.

Marion Blakey, the chairperson for the NTSB said that the reports "differ dramatically in terms of what people say that they saw."

In October, the NTSB will hold a public hearing, one they call a "Docket Meeting," on the crash. The meeting will be held in Washington. D.C.

When a Wave editor questioned an NTSB spokesperson earlier in the year as to why the meeting was to be held so far from the crash site, he was told that "We have all of our facilities in Washington, and anybody who is interested can come there."

While that hearing will probably not provide a definitive answer to the question of why the plane crashed, it is expected that it will make public reams of documents relating to the flight, including data gathered from the tests on the composite material in the tail section and witness statements.

It was not clear at press time whether the information to be released at that time includes the transcript from the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), at critical piece of information that many locals believe is the key to solving the mystery of why flight 587 crashed.

According to NTSB sources, portions of the transcript may be released, but that federal law does not allow full disclosure of what is on the CVR nor is the NTSB allowed to play the tape for the public.

For the entire NTSB update, see Page 14.


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