NTSB investigation into downed cargo plane off Kalaeloa deepens

The NTSB said it is interviewing those involved and is looking for the exact location of the plane on the ocean floor.
Published: Jul. 5, 2021 at 5:05 AM HST|Updated: Jul. 5, 2021 at 4:56 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The National Transportation Safety Board is continuing its investigation into a cargo plane crash off Kalaeloa that injured two pilots.

In an update Monday, the NTSB said it is interviewing those involved and is looking for the exact location of the plane on the ocean floor.

“The plan today was to go out with side scan sonar to begin mapping the debris field and to get a sense of the aircraft, where it is on the ocean floor and what challenges that might present for us moving ahead,” said Chris O’Neil, chief of media relations for the NTSB.

According to the NTSB’s database, the Transair Boeing 737-200 is the largest aircraft to crash in Hawaiian waters.

O’Neil said the information gathered would help determine how and when the cockpit voice and flight data recorders can be recovered and whether the plane can be salvaged.

The recorders could provide clues about what caused the rare double-engine failure.

“We believe it’s in between 150 and 350 feet of water. So certainly the deeper it is, the more challenging it will be to recover the recorders,” O’Neil said.

Complicating the salvage efforts, O’Neil said the plane is near an undersea ledge.

“Certainly a concern is stability. If it’s in a place where it can easily slide off this ledge and drop to a much deeper location, salvage can become very challenging,” he said.

A team of 10 investigators was sent to Hawaii to look into why the aircraft went down Friday morning.

The NTSB conducted an organizational meeting on Saturday with those involved in the investigation, including the Federal Aviation Administration, Boeing, Pratt and Whitney, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and Rhoades Aviation.

The U.S. Coast Guard has already been salvaging items from the crash.

It posted images on Twitter showing stuffed animals among the cargo that was retrieved.

A safety zone remains in place surrounding the salvage operation.

Authorities said the Transair Flight 810 crew reported engine trouble and was attempting to return to Honolulu about 1:30 a.m. Friday when they were forced to ditch the craft in the water.

The pilot who was critically injured has been discharged from the hospital, sources told Hawaii News Now on Monday.

The other pilot was treated for a head injury and lacerations and also appears to be out of the hospital.

O’Neil said the NTSB team will conduct their field investigation over the next 10 to 15 days. He said a preliminary report could be issued within weeks but a more complete final report will take longer.

“Currently at the National Transportation Safety Board, major investigations are taking between 12 and 24 months to complete,” he said.

Transair announced that it is temporarily suspending all operations of its Boeing 737s and is using smaller turboprop aircraft to serve their customers.

This story will be updated.

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