Computer failure puzzling in Peruvian crash
More bodies recovered from Pacific
October 3, 1996
Web posted at: 10:00 p.m. EDT (0200 GMT)
LIMA, Peru (CNN) -- Peruvian investigators began the
painstaking task Thursday of trying to determine "why the
computers went crazy" on Aeroperu Flight 603, which plunged
into the icy waters of the Pacific.
As they worked, fierce currents swept away the fuselage of
the Boeing 757-200 that crashed Wednesday, killing all 70
"It moves with the current and is no longer where it was
yesterday," coast guard Capt. Augusto Zegarra said.
Using helicopters, navy frigates and private boats, rescuers
recovered three more bodies Thursday, bringing the total to
13. They also fished out passengers' clothes, shoes and
personal papers along with seats and fragments of wing and
fuselage. Officials blamed the crash on a computer glitch.
"It is not the first time that one of these planes has had
this kind of fault," Transport Minister Elsa Carrera de
Escalante told a news conference. "We have to find out why
the computers went crazy."
About 12 investigators from Boeing, engine-maker Pratt &
Whitney, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and
the National Transportation Safety Board met with
representatives from Aeroperu, the airplane's owner.
A source close to the team of U.S. investigators said it was
"very premature" to speculate about the cause of the crash
and possible technical failures aboard the plane, which was
in service for just three months.
The plane, built in November 1992, had undergone a major,
FAA-approved routine overhaul in Mexico three months ago,
Carrera said. It was registered in the United States and
therefore met the FAA's standards for flight readiness, she
Carrera said the pilot's comments indicated that his entire
navigational system had failed.
But Boeing spokeswoman Susan Bradley said Thursday that the
system could not completely fail without "something
catastrophic" -- like a bomb. She said backup systems would
have kicked in, and that "in any event, the bottom line is
the pilot could still fly the plane manually."
At this point, the inquiry is focused on computer failures
aboard the jet, evident in a dramatic 29-minute dialogue
between pilot Eric Schreiber and Lima air traffic
Pilot's plea offers clues
"Where am I? Over land or sea?" asked Schreiber as he tried
to steer his plane through dense fog back to Lima after
setting off for Santiago, Chile.
Carrera said the government had requested help from the
United States to recover the aircraft's cockpit voice
recorder and flight data recorder, which were believed
trapped inside the underwater wreckage.
"The problem is that the central part of the fuselage is
too deep," said navy Capt. Augusto Zegarra.
Relatives of the victims, who came from 11 countries, arrived
Thursday to identify the bodies recovered and visit the crash
site. There were condolences from around the world, including
Pope John Paul II, French President Jacques Chirac and the
government of Chile. Thirty of the victims were Chileans.
The crash was the third involving a 757, which had a perfect
safety record from the time it entered commercial service in
1983 until last year, when an American Airlines 757 slammed
into a mountain in Colombia, killing 159 people.
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