June 6, 1996 in Nation/World

Feds May End Search For Pieces Of Jet

Knight-Ridder
 

Saying they have recovered thousands of pieces that add up to about 70 percent of ValuJet’s doomed DC-9, federal investigators said Wednesday they soon will decide whether to continue raking the Everglades muck for more debris or call it quits.

National Transportation Safety Board officials stressed a decision has not been made but said one could come by Friday.

Though board spokesman Michael Benson declined to elaborate, federal officials have said their goal is to recover enough evidence to determine the crash’s probable cause.

Several parts recovered this week could help confirm or rule out some of the main possibilities.

Small portions of the main circuit-breaker panel from the plane’s cockpit which were recovered Tuesday show no evidence of having been in a fire, board officials said.

The pieces, which account for about 10 percent of the whole, came from a panel that had been worked on just before the aircraft took off.

The parts could help rule out an electrical malfunction as the cause of an intense blaze that broke out on board shortly before the plane crashed May 11, killing all 110 people aboard.

Investigators believe volatile oxygen-generating canisters being transported in the cargo hold might have sparked or fed a fire which spread to the passenger cabin directly above.

More canisters have been recovered, bringing the total found to 16 out of a total of as many as 144. Several show evidence of fire damage, and on several, the hammer is down on the percussion cap, indicating they might have been set off.

xxxx NO CRATER The NTSB also discounted reports by salvage crews of having found a “second crater” filled with material from the crash within the main impact crater. Describing it instead as a “deep impression,” the NTSB said it has failed to yield large or numerous parts.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email