National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs
The following statement was issued by National Transportation Safety Board Jim Hall this afternoon:
The National Transportation Safety Board's investigation of the crash of Alaska Airlines flight 261 continues. I wanted to update you on the developments over the last 24 hours.
After the jackscrew of the accident aircraft (N963AS, manufactured May 1992) was found with some damage noted, some airlines began inspecting their aircraft for any signs of similar damage. Alaska Airlines has reported to us that it has inspected 31 of its 34 MD-80 series aircraft. The other 3 aircraft are out of service undergoing maintenance. During these inspections, the airline found metal filings or shavings in or around the horizontal stabilizer jackscrews of two aircraft. Those aircraft are:
Safety Board investigators, as well as those from the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing Aircraft Company, are arriving this afternoon at both Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington, the locations of the two aircraft, to conduct very thorough inspections of the horizontal stabilizer components while they are on the aircraft and then remove them for further examination. The aircraft will be withheld from service until released by investigators.
A Safety Board metallurgist has been examining the jackscrew recovered from the accident aircraft. The shreds of metal seen attached to that jackscrew are of the same material as the threads of the gimbel nut that would normally be attached to that jackscrew. That nut has not been recovered. There is no determination at this point when those metal transfers occurred.
The U.S. Navy continues to map the accident site and has retrieved some more pieces of the tail section of flight 261, notably a 12 foot by 7 foot section of the vertical stabilizer, and the top half of the upper vertical fin fairing.
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.