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Final 18 seconds of Amazon flight indicate plane lost control, NTSB experts say

The cockpit voice recorder recovered from the cargo plane crash site in Trinity Bay has already provided key information.

HOUSTON — NTSB experts have released new details about the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder recovered from last month’s Amazon plane crash in the Trinity Bay.

Searchers recovered the cockpit recorder Friday and have been listening to it to try and learn why the plane went down. 

They say crew communications 18 seconds before the recording ended are consistent with a loss of control of the aircraft.

Here’s what else they’ve learned from the CVR:

  • The length of the recording is approximately two hours and was obtained from a download of a solid-state type cockpit voice recorder.
  • The recording included the final portion of the flight; however, the quality of the audio is poor.
  • There are times during the recording when the content of crew discussion is difficult to determine, at other times the content can be determined using advanced audio filtering.
  • The crew was in communication with air traffic control and were being provided radar vectors for the runway 26L approach into George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

NTSB investigators are also going through the flight data recorder, which was recovered Sunday. The memory module was taken apart, cleaned and dried, and they were able to download the data Monday afternoon.

Here’s what they’ve learned so far:

  • It contained a total of 54 hours of data from 17 flights, including the final Atlas Air flight. 
  • There were approximately 350 parameters recorded by the FDR (flight data recorder) detailing the motion of the aircraft and operation of its engines, flight controls and other systems.

NTSB recorder investigators are currently verifying and validating the FDR data, and the NTSB plans to provide a summary in an investigative update in a few days.

Technical experts will convene in the coming week to review the entire recording and produce a transcript of the accident recording. It will be a time-consuming process to complete the transcript.

Three people died when Atlas Air Flight 3591, a Boeing 767-300 cargo jet, crashed on Feb. 23 in the muddy marshland of Trinity Bay in Chambers County.

The airplane was destroyed on impact. The condition of the accident site made locating the recorders challenging.

The airplane was carrying cargo for Amazon.com Inc., and the US Postal Service from Miami to Houston.

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