The pilot of the commuter jet involved in the deadly crash that killed him and six others on board, including Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz, may have tried to slow the plane down moments before the accident.
Katz’s Gulfstream jet crashed during takeoff at Hanscom Field in Bedford, Massachusetts Saturday night. The plane had burst through a chain-link fence and toppled part of a runway lighting system.
The National Transportation Safety Board says data from flight recorders indicate the jet reached a speed of 165 knots (190 mph) and never lifted off from the runway.
NTSB investigator Luke Schiada said Tuesday one of the recovered black boxes also recorded conversations inside the cockpit, but they will be analyzed further before a transcript is released.Schiada said data from the black boxes indicated a rise in brake pressure and the application of thrust reversers before the crash. Tire marks on the runway also suggest the pilot may have been trying to stop the plane.
The briefing came nearly 24 hours after federal investigators located the plane's cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder. The devices had been missing in the wreckage for several days.
Fifteen investigators, including Rolls Royce engine manufacturers, are at Hanscom Field where they continue to investigate how the Gulfstream IV, owned by Katz, crashed Saturday night.
The latest information revealed during Tuesday's news conference is based on preliminary reports, according to the NTSB spokesman.
During 911 calls obtained by NBC10, witnesses who live nearby say they heard the crash and saw a towering ball of fire.
"It looks like an atomic bomb, a mushroom cloud," the caller said.
Investigators have not yet determined the cause of the crash.
There are other key pieces needed in order to piece the plane's final moments together, officials say.
"We have found the aircraft maintenance records. We will be retrieving those and reviewing those documents within the next few days. We have some information about the flight crew, we've located their training records," said NTSB senior air safety investigator Luke Schiada.
And all three had extensive flying experience. They've been identified as pilot James McDowell, co-pilot Bauke "Mike" de Vries, and flight attendant Teresa Ann Benhoff. Relatives say all had worked for Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz for at least 10 years.
Katz was a passenger on the plane hosting three friends, all from South Jersey, as they returned to Atlantic City at the time of the crash.
The Bedford airport is running as normally as could be expected with an investigation of this magnitude, with flights coming and going throughout the day.
There is surveillance video from this airport, but it has not yet been reviewed, according to investigators.