CNN BREAKING NEWS
Interview with John Wylie
Aired January 8, 2003 - 11:01 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's bring in, as a matter of fact, our aviation consultant, John Wylie, to talk a little bit about that.
And we should caution our viewers, and John knows this, and our faithful viewers know this that these early witness reports are frequently found to be slightly inaccurate, even expert witnesses, if you will, are tainted by the adrenaline of the moment, but John, if in fact we're talking about a situation where very nose high attitude, run us through a couple of scenarios.
JOHN WYLIE, AVIATION EXPERT: Well, the likelihood that an airplane is actually vertical is extremely remote. You just don't have the performance on takeoff to get the airplane into the vertical. We're talking about fighter-like performance, and as you mentioned with the airplane possibly being close to gross weight, we're just not going to see that. So not to diminish the eyewitness report, but when people see airplanes in extremely unusual attitudes, it tends to bias what they see or what they think they see. You don't normally see the top of an airplane on takeoff, and so again, not to diminish the eyewitness report, but the likelihood that the airplane went vertical, I would say, was extremely remote.
O'BRIEN: OK. Let's talk about one thing that came up. We've sort of added to the confusion here, and I apologize for that, because this is an area of law that is changing. This aircraft was built in 1996. Given its classification, its size, the use that it is used for, John, is it likely there is a flight data recorder on it?
WYLIE: I wouldn't know, Miles. I have checked "Janes'," which is the definitive source of information on the airplane, and I don't have access to the handbook on the airplane, so between the FARs, the Federal Aviation Regulations, and the lack of information on that, I would not know if it had a flight data recorder.
O'BRIEN: Well, and it is accurate to point out, if you could put that aircraft there in the telestrator for me, we can point out a couple things. First of all, the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder are stowed in the tail section of the airplane?
WYLIE: They're stored in different places on airplanes, but yes, most likely it would be in the aft section of the airplane.
O'BRIEN: OK. Now, we talked a little bit earlier, John, about that door. There is a passenger door in the front left.
O'BRIEN: And that door has been problematic in the past, has it not?
WYLIE: I don't have information on that, Miles, but the likelihood that a door opening, unless it separates and goes into the engine, the likelihood of that being a factor in this crash, again, I would have to place that as possibly remote.
O'BRIEN: OK. All right. So once again, you have not heard anything -- of course, we heard it was a little different runway than we thought, but have you heard anything that has changed your, at least initial theory that the thing to look at right now is that left engine, and by looking at the crash, the wreckage, by examining the cockpit voice recorder, certainly if there is a flight data recorder, it would be definitive. The question whether that propeller blade was spinning and that engine was performing as it should will be key.
WYLIE: I think most of the investigation is going to focus on an engine failure, primarily focusing on the left engine failure, the No. 1 engine failing on takeoff.
O'BRIEN: This aircraft has a fairly good safety record, I'm told. It's kind of an extended and increased in size in every direction of the King Air, which people became familiar with during the death of Senator Paul Wellstone.
O'BRIEN: And it's made by the Beechcraft division of Raytheon. Generally speaking, that's a very reliable, safe aircraft, is it not?
WYLIE: Well, to get an airplane certified and to get an airplane ops, it has to go through extensive reviews by the FAA. There are extensive flight test programs. So yes, by the time it's certified to put anyone's seat in the fanny -- I mean, fanny in the seat, you just don't put unsafe airplanes out there because a number of years ago, one of the manufacturers did a study, and there were some comments earlier from some people about with the airlines being in down times that they may scrimp on safety which is an absurd proposition, an air crash is an extremely expensive proposition, and so people don't cut back on safety.
O'BRIEN: All right. John Wylie, we're going to leave it at that.
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