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    A jetliner en route to the Dominican Republic broke apart minutes after takeoff and crashed in flames in a waterfront neighborhood Monday, destroying houses and sowing initial fears of a new terrorist atrocity. There were no survivors among the 255 people aboard; six others were reported missing on the ground.

    ``It's looking like it's not a terrorist attack,'' said a senior Bush administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity. If there was an explosion on the plane . and many bystanders heard one . it was probably caused by a catastrophic mechanical failure, investigators said.

    Authorities said one of the two black boxes on board the 13-year-old Airbus A300 had been found and would be examined for clues.

    American Airlines Flight 587 left Kennedy Airport at 9:14 a.m., 74 minutes late, lifting off into a clear blue sky. It went down three minutes later in the Rockaway Beach section of Queens . a middle-class neighborhood, 15 miles from Manhattan, that had lost scores of its people, firefighters and financial workers among them, in the World Trade Center catastrophe just two months ago.

    ``I just thought, `Oh, no, not again,''' said Milena Owens, who was putting up Thanksgiving decorations when she heard an explosion.

    Gov. George Pataki said the pilot had dumped fuel in Jamaica Bay before the plane went down . indicating the crew knew the jet was in danger.

    Saud Aziz, 38, said he was raking leaves in front of his home when he looked up, spotted the plane and saw a large chunk of a wing fall off. At that point, he said, the aircraft went into a spiraling dive and set the neighborhood on fire.

    ``We could feel the heat. The flames were intense,'' he said. ``Even though it was burning, it was weird, because it was very quiet.''

    Other witnesses reported hearing an explosion and seeing an engine and other debris falling off the twin-engine jet as it came down. An engine was found intact in a parking lot at a Texaco station, missing the gas pumps by no more than 6 feet; neighbors ran to the scene with garden hoses to put out the fire.

    Part of a wing appeared to be in Jamaica Bay, just offshore, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said.

    ``I don't believe there are any survivors at this point,'' Giuliani said. As of midafternoon, 161 bodies had been recovered, he said.

    Six people were reported missing on the ground, the mayor said.

    Roberto Valentin, a Dominican ambassador at large, spoke through tears when he said he believed 90 percent of the passengers were Dominican; New York has more Dominicans than any other state, with 455,000 in New York City alone.

    Relatives of passengers crowded Santo Domingo's airport, sobbing and grasping each other after hearing about the crash.

    ``Oh my God!'' said Miriam Fajardo, crying after being told that her sister and three nephews were aboard. ``I hadn't seen them in eight years. Now they're gone.''

    The rectory of St. Francis de Sales, one block from the crash site, was used as an emergency command center. Its pastor, Monsignor Martin Geraghty, was called away to bless bodies.

    Firefighter Joe O'Brien accompanied the priest. The monsignor blessed about 20 bodies, which were being laid out on the street right in front of the crash site, O'Brien said.

    ``Right now they're just recovering bodies. The FBI is looking for evidence,'' he said. ``And the priests are down there consoling firemen.''

    Thirty-five people were treated for injuries at the hospital . mostly rescue workers, firefighters and police. All were hurt not in the crash but in the aftermath, with most of them suffering smoke inhalation.

    Four houses were destroyed, four were seriously damaged, and as many as a dozen others sustained lesser damage, the mayor said. Smoke poured from the neighborhood and could be seen from miles away.

    A city that had already suffered a catastrophe in lower Manhattan and anthrax scares reacted immediately by calling a high alert. Fighter planes patrolled the skies over New York; bridges, tunnels and all three major airports were closed for a time; the Empire State Building was evacuated.

    In Washington, President Bush met with advisers, seeking details of the crash. A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said intelligence agencies, the FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration were reviewing recent intelligence for signs that terrorism was involved.

    But White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said there were no ``unusual communications'' from the cockpit. And a senior administration official said that no threats against airplanes had been received.

    The National Transportation Safety Board was designated the lead agency in the investigation, signaling that authorities have no information other than that a mechanical malfunction . and not a terrorist attack . brought down the plane.

    A law enforcement source at the scene told The Associated Press that the likelihood of a mechanical problem stemmed from the fact that flames were seen shooting out of the left engine and that witnesses reported the plane had difficulty climbing and was banking to the left.

    Jet engines have been known to break up catastrophically, throwing shrapnel into a plane. In 1989, for example, United Airlines DC-10 crashed in Sioux City, Iowa, killing 112, after the metal hub that holds the engine's fan blades shattered and ruptured the jet's hydraulic lines.

    Jennifer Rivara said she was looking out a window from her home about five blocks from Monday's crash. ``I saw pieces falling out of the sky,'' she said. ``And then I looked over to my left and I saw this huge fireball, and the next thing I know, I hear this big rumbling sound. I ran to the door and all I saw was big black smoke.''

    The plane was lying on top of about 12 homes, said Ed Williams, community liaison for Rep. Gregory Meeks.

    Giuliani said his first thought upon hearing about the crash was ```Oh, my God.' I just passed the church in which I've been to, I think, 10 funerals here. Rockaway was particularly hard hit'' in the Trade Center disaster, he said.

    The mayor went to an airport hotel where 600 family members of those on board the plane had assembled; he led them in a moment of silent prayer.

    ``This is a horrible, horrible day,'' the governor told them.

    The Trade Center was destroyed by two Boeing 767s hijacked out of Boston's Logan Airport. One of the planes was operated by American, the other by United.

    Jackie Weiss, 50, a secretary at Rockaway High School, said: ``I'm really devastated. My own son was telling me, when I was upset by the World Trade Center, `But you didn't lose any family members.' But seeing something like this ... I feel the world is coming to an end.''
    Be Safe Wear Your Vest

  • #2
    How truly devestating.. I really do hope that it was not an act of terrorism.. I dont think we could stomache knowing that this was intentional...
    No partner is worth your tears -
    the one that is won't make you cry. - Anonymous

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    • #3
      Some people are questioning the way the aircraft came apart. They are saying they don't really know what could have happened to make it come apart that way.

      I think this is bad for the airlines, either way.


      • #4
        Moving to General Topics.


        • #5
          Sounds like an engine failure, possibly the turbine wheel failed which could cause a compressor stall that would sound like an explosion. When the engine came off the aircraft, pieces and parts would come with it.

          I don't know much about airplanes and engines, but this sounds logical to me.

          [ 11-13-2001: Message edited by: Pnutt ]
          Illegitimus non carborundus!


          • #6
            The fact that wing detached from the plane itself is somewhat strange. Normally, when an engine detaches from an airplane, the wing usually is not also removed. It takes literally millions of pounds of pressure to snap a wing off. I recall when Boeing was testing the 777 wings. The wings were bent 22 feet up from the horizontal resting height before the structure finally gave way.

            No, this is not another conspiracy theory, but just a possibility. Someone may have tampered with the engine considering the plane had been overhauled during the 24 hours prior to the incident. Talking to a friend of mine who is a captain for United, I was informed that several hundred unsupervised people came in contact with the plane during that time period.

            Am I suggesting that we all instill panic and shut down everything and go on and on and on and on frightening every child and adult homosapean here in the grand o'l U.S. of A.? Of course not!

            One thing to note is that the NTSB (National Traffic Safety Board for the Florida Supreme Court) announced this morning that they didn't have any evidence that terrorists were involved. That is very true. As of right now, they don't have any evidence. They have not yet ruled it out as a possibility. Most planes that experience engine failure, or even a complete engine jettison, do not completely lose control instantly. When they crash, they usually do not kill every person on board, as it is usually a controlled crash landing.

            The only true non-sabotaged mechanical failure that I can think of would be if the thrust reverser safety systems failed. There are several safety systems on all commercial aircraft (No, we don't need a recount to prove to the Florida Supreme Court that it really is on all commercial aircraft! ) that prevents the thrust reversers from activating when the aircraft is in flight. There have been several incidents in which the system failed and a reverser was activated in flight. I believe that one incident happened in 1979 involving a Japan Airline 747. The result of the failure caused a whole chain of events that resulted in the uncontrollable collision between the ground and the aircraft. When the reverser activated itself, it supposedly ripped off the vertical stabilizer. This meant that the aircraft became uncontrollable and eventually crashed.

            The wing DID NOT COME OFF!!! This is where I believe sabotage may have occurred. Someone may have tampered with the safety system so that it would fail. They also may have placed a small charge to complete the destruction of the aircraft by removing the wing.

            This is just a theory. Does anyone out there really know what happened? NO, unless it was sabotage and you are the saboteur. There are other



            • #7
              Let's clear a couple things up. First, a compressor stall is not any type of mechanical failure or explosion. It is a condition when airflow to the compressor is disrupted, causing the engine to stop producing power. Second, if an engine explodes, it can blow the wing right off the plane.

              This type of thing has happened before. Everyone has seen the TV shows about the DC-10 which crashed at Sioux City, Iowa after the tail engine exploded. That was caused by a microscopic crack in part of the compressor, which led to sudden failure. The parts mounted on the engine's shafts are spinning at tremendous RPM's, developing extreme amounts of pressure inside the engine casing. When a compressor or turbine blade launches itself through the casing, the whole thing blows apart almost instantly. The jet fuel continues to flow and burn, which will quickly dismantle whatever of the structure remains after the explosion.

              This was almost certainly an unintended event, tragic as it is. Unfortunately, the tinfoil hat crowd and the Nervous Nells around the Internet are having a field day with it, refusing to accept any reason from those who know about such things and insisting on the least likely explanation. Always follow Occam's Razor.
              Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

              I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq


              • #8
                If you will recall the testing phases for both the GE engines used on the Airbus and the 777, the cowling was designed not to break open and explode even if a fan blade broke loose. I have seen dramatic video of the testing phases for both of these engines. To imitate a fan blade breaking loose in flight, a small charge was placed at the anchor point of one of the blades. The engine was then powered up to 110% thrust. Then a very lucky engineer received the honor of pushing the button that detonated the charge, in turn releasing the fan blade from its anchor point. The cowling bulged out as the blade went around, but no explosion happened.

                Once again, I am not ruling out an accident. It is too early to say either way. We need to let the NTSB (once again National Traffic Safety Board for the Florida Supreme Court) do their job and not panic into a mass hysteria. At the same time, we need to be vigilant and not let down our guard.

                One story that nobody seemed to cover much was about the three ("3" once again for the Florida Supreme Court. After Fox News reviewed the eyewitness reports again, it was determined that it was indeed 3. This means that no recount will be issued!) small airplanes that released some sort of chemical today (11/12/01) over several tugboats in the Mississippi River. The boat operators alegedly called the police, who in turn contacted the FBI. They determined that it was a harmless chemical. Witnesses described it as something looking like brown smoke that was dumped into the Mississippi. Was this some sort of practice run for something bigger in the future?

                Why didn't the media cover this story?

                Just a few more comments to let everyone ponder on.



                • #9
                  This story about planes flying over the Mississippi releasing chemicals has been circulating for a couple weeks now. The only place I have seen it is the Internet, never in any sort of conventional media. I'm thinking urban legend.
                  Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

                  I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq


                  • #10

                    I'm not sure what your big gripe is with the Florida Supreme Court, but it appears that you are 1) a Gore supporter and 2) still pretty obsessed with something that happened a year ago.


                    Must be the Colorado spelling. Here in Florida, all us dumb rednecks spell it homo sapien


                    Yes, it is pretty much urban legend.

                    "Two seemingly related instances supposedly involving crop dusters in Mississippi were of this shadow-jumping variety.

                    On October 19, 2001, the crew of a towboat plying the Mississippi River near Rosedale reported being sprayed by a low-flying plane with a light white substance or mist. Both the FBI and the Mississippi Department of Health were called in to investigate -- the FBI to determine the origin and intent of the plane, the Department of Health to ascertain the nature of the substance. As a precaution, the crew was treated with Cipro, an antibiotic effective against anthrax, and quarantined for sixty hours.

                    On October 22, a tiny Coast Guard post in Natchez, Mississippi (170 miles south of Rosedale), was reportedly dusted with fine white granules from a small plane. Two mysterious dustings within the space of days fueled concerns that yet another terrorist attack was underway.

                    Both incidents turned out to be mundane and ill intent absent. The towboat that had reported being deliberately sprayed down the length of the seventeen barges it had been pulling had actually been the recipient of a salutation from a passing plane. Investigators believe they have located the pilot of that aircraft and have determined that the substance emitted was only smoke. Crop dusters, which use smoke as navigation tools, sometimes spray smoke as a greeting to those below.

                    As for the Coast Guard post in Natchez, investigators found that the substance apparently was in the air before the plane flew over the area and was consistent with material often emitted by a nearby paper processing plant. The pilot of that plane -- which was not a crop duster -- just happened to be flying overhead and contacted authorities himself the next day."


                    [ 11-13-2001: Message edited by: Niteshift ]


                    • #11
                      Not intentionally adding 'fuel' to any conspiracy theories, but....

                      IF the plane had taken off ON TIME, its flight path would have had it over D.C. at the time of any 'planned' explosion.
                      "When you guys get home and face an anti-war protester, look him in the eyes and shake his hand. Then, wink at his girlfriend, because she knows she's dating a *****."
                      -Commanding General, 1st Marine Division


                      • #12
                        I just heard on FoxNews...BOTH engines found INTACT. ZERO evidence of bird stikes.
                        "When you guys get home and face an anti-war protester, look him in the eyes and shake his hand. Then, wink at his girlfriend, because she knows she's dating a *****."
                        -Commanding General, 1st Marine Division


                        • #13
                          The Airbus is a very dependable aircraft. Since it came into use in 1976, there have only been a small handful of crashes, with a smaller amount attributed to mechanical failure. The last one to crash was, I think 1998 and the reason was improper bolts used on the engine.


                          • #14
                            I heard there have been 17 crashes since 88.


                            • #15
                              I just heard it may have been wake turbulence from a heavy that preceded it on departure. Haven't yet confirmed it.
                              Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

                              I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq


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