- An aviation expert said Wednesday that an in-flight bomb
explosion could explain why Flight 587's vertical stabilizer sheared off
intact and fell into New York City's Jamaica Bay, a half mile from where
the rest of the plane crashed in the Belle Harbor section of Rockaway.
- "That tail coming off is very puzzling," the
expert, speaking on condition of anonymity, told New York's Newsday.
- "There are only a handful of ways it can come off,"
he explained, saying that there was either a structural problem with the
tail, or something else broke away from the plane and sheared it off, "or
- Beginning Monday afternoon, when investigators said that
catastrophic engine failure likely brought Flight 587 down, NTSB officials
have repeatedly insisted there was "no evidence" that Flight
587's crash was anything but an accident.
- But the tail section became the focus of new scrutiny
late Tuesday when investigators said an inspection of the Airbus-300's
two engines showed no evidence of engine failure or burnout.
- "When they pulled the tail section from the water,
I have to say that was quite a shock," said former Transportation
Department Inspector General Mary Schiavo late Tuesday in an interview
with Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes."
- The tail fin was pulled from the water showing no damage
except for the smooth seam where it had previously been attached to the
- "The tail section, to me, points to even greater
problems and other problems for this aircraft," said Schiavo, who
had been a leading proponent of the catastrophic engine failure theory
only a day before. (See <http://www.newsmax.com/showinsidecover.shtml?a=2001/11/12/155003Schiavo:
Mechanical Failure Likely Caused Crash.)
- "When you think back to other accidents of this
magnitude, if indeed this is an in-flight structural breakup of this aircraft,
you don't have just a problem with the engine," Schiavo said. "You
have a major problem with the airframe on this plane because the pilot
trying to save the plane should not have torn the plane apart."
- "I think terrorism is a possibility," the former
DOT official said.
- In accounts that have apparently been dismissed by NTSB
investigators, witness after witness described seeing a midair explosion.
- "I saw an enormous flash where the wing meets the
plane," eyewitness Jackie Powers told WABC Radio Monday morning.
"I don't know if it was fire or an explosion. It appeared that debris
fell from the left side [of the plane]."
- Another eyewitness who called into the radio station
said, "The right wing seemed to catch fire and explode. The wing was
on fire with a trail of smoke behind it."
- "I saw the plane going across Jamaica Bay,"
a third witness told WABC. "It was trying to ascend and then it just
- "The combination of a rattle back in the airplane
[as heard on the plane's cockpit voice recorder] and the fact of an in-flight
breakup indicates there was some sort of event which occurred that caused
the breakup," said John Hansman, professor of aeronautics at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, in an interview with Newsday.
- "We still have no idea as to exactly what that was."
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