National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs
The National Transportation Safety Board tonight launched a Go Team to Oxnard, California, to begin its investigation of the crash of Alaska Airlines flight 261. The McDonnell Douglas MD-80 (N963AS) crashed off the coast of California this evening while en route from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to San Francisco. It is reported that the aircraft carried 83 passengers and 5 crew members.
Preliminary information from air traffic control communications indicates that the aircraft's crew reported no problems when they checked in with Los Angeles Air Traffic Control Center at about 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time. About 10 minutes later they reported that they were descending and experiencing control problems. They were cleared to proceed to Los Angeles International Airport. The last communication from the aircraft was received about 7 minutes after the first report of a problem.
The first elements of the NTSB's team will depart on a government aircraft from Reagan National Airport at about 2:00 a.m., Tuesday. Richard Rodriguez, who has almost 40 years of experience as an air safety investigator, will be the Board's Investigator-in-Charge. NTSB Member John Hammerschmidt will accompany the team as the primary spokesman for the investigation.
Information on where the Board's Command Center will be established will be released when plans are finalized tomorrow.
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NTSB Office of Public Affairs: (202) 314-6100
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.