Emergency controls were activated in commuter crashJanuary 13, 1997
Web posted at: 11:30 a.m. EST
RAISINVILLE TOWNSHIP, Michigan (CNN) -- Three controls intended to shut down the right engine and activate a fire extinguisher were found in the "on" position on a commuter plane that crashed last week, federal investigators said Sunday. However, the investigators examining the Delta Comair's engine wreckage don't know if the controls were turned on by the crew or by the force of the impact.
Investigators said they had found no indication there was a fire on the plane when it slammed into a snowy field in rural south-east Michigan late Thursday afternoon.
"There is no indication of an in-flight fire," National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) official John Hammerschmidt told reporters at a briefing.
Comair Flight 3272, en route from Cincinnati to Detroit, crashed Thursday, killing all 29 aboard.
Hammerschmidt said the cockpit voice recorder showed the pilot began a 30-degree banking turn to the left and then the angle increased after three seconds of a stable turn.
"Over the next eight-second period of time, the angle of bank increased to approximately 40 degrees. At that point the aircraft departed controlled flight. All data ended approximately 17 seconds after it departed controlled flight," he said.
Hammerschmidt and the lead NTSB investigator on the scene, Richard Rodriguez, did not offer an explanation for the plane's left turn or possible right engine problems.
Hammerschmidt said that on Monday investigators would begin decontaminating the wreckage and moving it to a building at the local fairgrounds where it would be subject to further examination. NTSB officials said they expected to wrap up most on-site work by the end of the week.
Also on Monday investigators in Washington will resume their study of the "black box" cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder that were recovered from the wreckage of the Brasilia aircraft.
Searchers brave bitter cold
Braving bitter cold, workers Sunday continued to recover pieces of the plane and body parts of victims.
"The identification process is proceeding at a rather good pace," said Dr. David Lieberman, medical examiner for Monroe County, site of the crash.
"We're getting a lot of information that we're able to match either by fingerprints, dental or other information that the families themselves have supplied to us."
As a dozen or so relatives of the crash victims looked on, about 30 people searched the site Sunday afternoon, working 15-minute shifts in nine degrees weather and 20 mile-an-hour winds. They carried plastic bags and small rakes, sifting through the grass and kneeling occasionally to put a small piece in a bag.
The community erected a small memorial next to bales of hay stacked about 150 yards from the wreckage.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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