NTSB to begin efforts to remove sunken cargo plane that crashed in waters off Oahu
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The National Transportation Safety Board held a briefing on Saturday, detailing its plans to recover a Boeing 737 cargo jet that crashed into waters off Oahu.
The incident, which happened on July 2, left two pilots aboard Transair Flight 810 injured ― one critically and the other in serious condition. Both of them survived.
Officials said the cargo plane was ditched in Mamala Bay shortly after takeoff from Honolulu International Airport. The aircraft was scheduled to fly to Kahului when both engines failed.
Following the crash, the plane sank to the bottom of the ocean about two miles off Ewa Beach.
Authorities said the scattered wreckage is at a depth of 350 to 450 feet. Major components of the airplane have been found, including the fuselage, wings and both engines.
As the NTSB enters its third phase of investigation, officials said two main vessels will be involved in the recovery. Aboard one of the ships will a primary remote operating vehicle, which will conduct most of the heavy lifting.
“Since there are no divers for this operation due to the depth, the ROV will be our work horse and it will be rigging the pieces of wreckage to prepare for its vertical lift for recovery,” said Lorenda Ward, a NTSB Senior Air Safety investigator.
“What is unique about this recovery is that we essentially have two pieces of the airplane. When the airplane landed on the water, it broke into two very large pieces, so instead of a fragmented airplane we are going to be lifting two pieces, with the heaviest being about 97,000 pounds.”
Ward explained that majority of the recoveries she has worked on have involved more fragments, and crews had much smaller pieces to work with.
During the operation, recorders will also be retrieved. Officials said the flight data recorder will provide information about the performance of the airplane while the cockpit voice recorder will provide insight on the challenges the crew experienced and how they handled it.
NTSB said it expects to have the engines on shore within a few days and the rest of the wreckage within a week if weather and ocean conditions permit operation.
Following the recovery of the aircraft, NTSB said it will take another week to document and photograph the wreckage. Some parts will also be sent to their Washington D.C. office for further analysis.
NTSB is working with the FAA and the US Coast Guard in the efforts to create a safety zone around the area.
Officials said they are aware of the environmental impact of their operation and will be conscious of sea turtles, whales and other endangered animals in the area during the recovery.
Transair’s insurance company is covering the cost of the recovery effort.
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This story will be updated.
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