National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs
National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Jim Hall tonight issued the following statement concerning the Board's investigation of the crash of Alaska Airlines flight 261: The United States Navy late today located and retrieved a part of the tail section of Alaska Airlines flight 261 that contains the gimbal nut associated with the aircraft's horizontal stabilizer system. The jackscrew upon which the gimbal nut was installed was recovered Tuesday.
A Safety Board investigator examining the nut reports that the threads are heavily damaged. I reported earlier today that the shreds of metal attached to the jackscrew are of the same material as the threads of that gimbal nut. There is no determination when those metal transfers occurred; that is, we do not know if the damage occurred before the aircraft's impact with water or was the result of that impact.
I also reported earlier today that two other Alaska Airlines MD-80 series aircraft, which were inspected by the airline, were found to have metal filings or shavings in or around their horizontal stabilizer jackscrews.
I have directed our investigating team in Port Hueneme, California, to send the recovered jackscrew and gimbal nut from the accident aircraft, as well as the horizontal stabilizer assemblies from those two other Alaska Airlines aircraft, to our laboratories in Washington, D.C. for extensive examination.
I want to again thank the United Stattes Navy for its excellent work in recovering these vital pieces of wreakage from flight 261 from about 700 feet below the ocean's surface. Navy vessels continue to search for more pieces of the aircraft's tail assembly, both at the main wreckage site and at a site about 4 miles away where pieces that might have separated from the aircraft in flight could have landed.
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.