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Tuesday, 13 November, 2001, 23:02 GMT
Crash jet's data recorder found
Part of the plane's fin landed near a parked car
The pilot's nosedive averted a worse disaster
Air accident investigators in the United States have found the second black box - the flight data recorder - from the airliner that crashed in New York on Monday.

The recorder, found in the main wreckage, could provide vital information about the causes of the crash, in which more than 260 people died.


It [the recorder] was located with the main wreckage - they are working to return it to Washington to be analysed

NTSB spokeswoman
Meanwhile, the first black box, the cockpit voice recorder, revealed that there were problems on the aircraft less than two minutes after the beginning of the take-off procedure.

National Transportation Safety Board officials said that rattling noises could be heard shortly before it crashed.

The tape from the voice recorder will be transcribed on Wednesday morning and compared with data from the flight recorder.

This should determine whether the cause of the disaster was mechanical failure - as preliminary results have indicated - rather than a terrorist attack.

The discovery of the second black box came as it emerged that US aviation officials had issued a safety notice a month ago for the type of engine that powered the Airbus A300.

In its warning the Federal Aviation Authority called for more frequent inspections because it said an "unsafe condition" had been identified in the engine, but the order had not come into force by the time of the crash.

Relatives of the American Airlines flight at Santo Domingo's international airport
About 150 of the passengers were from the Dominican Republic
Flight 587 was bound for the Dominican Republic when it lost an engine and nosedived into the Rockaway Beach residential area of the borough of Queens four minutes after taking off from John F Kennedy airport at 0913 local time (1413 GMT).

The crash has shocked New Yorkers, who are still trying to recover from the 11 September attacks, when two commercial airplanes were crashed into the World Trade Center in suicide hijackings, killing more than 4,300 people.

The flight data recorder contains information on aircraft flight controls, engine performance and other mechanical systems.

It was found in the main wreckage of the aircraft, and was being sent for urgent analysis in Washington, the NTSB said.

New York's grief

About 500 dazed, grieving relatives of the crash victims gathered at the Ramada Plaza Hotel at the edge of JFK Airport on Tuesday.

One of the plane's engines
The engine landed four blocks away from the plane

"Today is worse than the 11th," the manager of an airport cafe, Leonidas Araujo Quesada, told AP news agency.

"On the 11th, there were people crying, but it was for everybody. Today it is for Dominicans," he said.

Grieving relatives also gathered in Santo Domingo's airport, the doomed flight's destination.

About 150 of the passengers on the plane were Dominican citizens. The country's president has expressed his deep sorrow and announced three days of national mourning.

Click here for a map of the crash site

The plane's other data recorder - the cockpit voice recorder - was found shortly after the crash.



Flight 587 disaster
  • Emergency hotline: 1-800-245-0999
  • Departed: JFK Airport 0913 EST (1413 GMT)
  • Destination: Dominican Republic
  • Airbus A-300
  • 251 passengers
  • Nine crew

  • Officials said the cockpit voice recordings, which yielded good quality data, indicated that the co-pilot had been at the controls.

    NTSB investigator George Black said that "airframe rattling noise" had been heard in the cockpit on two occasions in the two minutes 24 seconds between take-off and the end of the tape.

    He said that shortly before the recording stopped comments were made suggesting that the pilots were losing control of the aircraft.

    Emergency workers in New York have so far recovered 262 bodies from where the suburban residential area where the jet crashed. Up to nine people are still missing on the ground.

    Call for checks

    The General Electric CF6-80C2 engine that powered the plane has been under close scrutiny since the spring of 2000, when failures in it were reported.

    Firefighters clearing smouldering pieces of American Airlines Flight 587
    A dozen Rockaway homes were consumed by flames
    Last month's FAA warning called for tougher, mandatory inspections of possibly worn parts of the engine.

    The US National Transportation Safety Board had also warned that failure of these engines during flight could send hot metal fragments tearing through important control systems or fuel lines, and could cause a plane to crash.

    The American Airlines plane had gone through routine maintenance tests overnight on Sunday, and investigators were checking who had access to it during those hours.

    According to US law, the FAA must give a 60-day period for public and industry feedback before ordering more extensive and frequent inspections.

    The 60-day period set by the FAA was to end on 4 December.

    The engine is used on more than 1,000 aircraft worldwide, including the plane of the US president, Air Force One.

    General Electric says it believes the engine is "phenomenally reliable."

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     WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Gavin Hewitt
    "Residents are exchanging stories of survival"
    Flight International magazine's David Learmount
    "America has been careful to improve safety and reliability"
    Residents of Queens
    recall the moment flight 587 crashed

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    See also:

    13 Nov 01 | Americas
    Tragedy of New Yorkers hit twice
    13 Nov 01 | Americas
    Life must go on
    14 Nov 01 | Americas
    New York children's crash trauma
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