NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


STATEMENT BY NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD CHAIRMAN JIM HALL RELATED TO FLIGHT RECORDERS ABOARD B-737 INVOLVED IN YESTERDAY'S EMERGENCY LANDING

February 24, 1999

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating an in-flight occurrence involving a Metrojet B-737-200 on February 23, 1999. The flight crew declared an emergency after reported flight control anomalies. Safety Board Chairman Jim Hall released the following statement about the flight recorders aboard that aircraft:

"The flight data recorder that was aboard the Metrojet Boeing 737 involved in the emergency landing yesterday was an out-moded, 11-parameter model. Important information relating to the flight control surfaces on the aircraft and control inputs in the cockpit -- which could have assisted us in quickly determining the existence, if any, of a control problem with the aircraft - were not available to NTSB investigators. Once again, an investigation into a reported flight control anomaly is being hampered by the lack of basic aircraft data. This is unacceptable.

"In the wake of two Boeing 737 accidents in the early 1990s, the NTSB urgently recommended 4 years ago this week that the Federal Aviation Administration require all 737s to have upgraded flight recorder capability, so that important data like flight control surface position and crew inputs could be recorded. We do not know if yesterday's incident involves a control problem with the 737, and because the FAA has failed to act on that urgent 1995 recommendation, either it will take us a significantly longer time or we will never have the factual information needed to find out .

"In addition, the in-flight event was not preserved on the aircraft's cockpit voice recorder because the 30-minute continuous loop had recorded over the event. This highlights the need for another Safety Board recommendation - issued more than 2 years ago - to equip aircraft with 2-hour cockpit voice recorders. Our experience is that many in-flight incidents that do not result in accidents but are nevertheless instructive in developing safety improvements are lost on CVRs that record for only 30 minutes.

"I again urge the FAA to move expeditiously on both recommendations so that valuable investigative data can be retrieved during accident and incident investigations."

NTSB Office of Public Affairs: (202) 314-6100

 

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.