NTSB Still Analyzing Recorders from Houston Cargo Plane Crash

The agency reported the airplane's crew were in communication with air traffic control and were being provided radar vectors for the runway 26L approach into George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Crew communications consistent with a loss of control of the aircraft began approximately 18 seconds prior to the end of the recording.

The National Transportation Safety Board provided an update March 5 on its investigation of the Feb. 23 crash of a Boeing 767-300 cargo jet into the marshland of Trinity Bay, about 40 miles from the aircraft's destination of Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Engineers at the agency's Office of Research and Engineering Vehicle Recorder Division completed an initial review of the Atlas Air Flight 3591 cockpit voice recorder (CVR) Saturday evening and recovered the plane's flight data recorder (FDR) Sunday.

The impact killed the three people aboard the aircraft -- two pilots for the flight and a non-revenue jump-seat pilot -- and destroyed the airplane, which was carrying cargo for Amazon and the U.S. Postal Service from Miami to Houston.

The CVR initial review revealed information that is preliminary and subject to change as the investigation continues, according to NTSB. The length of the recording is approximately two hours and was obtained from a download of a solid-state type cockpit voice recorder. While the recording includes the final portion of the flight, the quality of the audio is poor.

The agency's news release said the airplane's crew were in communication with air traffic control and were being provided radar vectors for the runway 26L approach into George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Crew communications consistent with a loss of control of the aircraft began approximately 18 seconds prior to the end of the recording.

The March 5 release said NTSB recorder investigators were verifying and validating the FDR data, and NTSB plans to provide a summary in an investigative update in a few days. Technical experts in the CVR group will convene in the coming week to review the entire recording and produce a transcript of the accident recording; according to the release, "it will be a time-consuming process to complete the transcript."

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