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Engine Trouble Suspected In Deadly Jet Crash


AMSTERDAM (AP) - Engine trouble may have caused the Turkish
Airlines crash that killed nine people in the Netherlands, the head
of the agency investigating the accident said Thursday. Other
officials identified the dead as five Turks and four Americans.
Flight TK1951 from Istanbul crashed about one mile (1.5
kilometers) short of the runway at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport on
Wednesday morning, smashing into three pieces and spraying luggage
and debris across a field. It was carrying 135 passengers and crew.
Chief investigator Pieter van Vollenhoven said, in remarks
quoted by Dutch state television NOS, that the Boeing 737-800 had
fallen almost directly from the sky, which pointed toward the
plane's engines having stopped. He said a reason for that had not
yet been established.
Spokeswoman Sandra Groenendal of the Dutch Safety Authority
confirmed his remarks and added that engine failure on the was
still only "one of the possible scenarios" for the crash.
Van Vollenhoven said an analysis of the plane's flight data
recorders in Paris could be completed as early as Friday, but his
agency would probably not make a preliminary finding until next
week.
"We hope to have a firmer grip as soon as possible," he said,
adding that the information retrieved from the recorders was of
high quality.
Survivors say engine noise seemed to stop, the plane shuddered
and then simply fell out of the sky tail-first. Witnesses on the
ground said the plane dropped from about 300 feet (90 meters).
Haarlemmermeer mayor Theo Weterings said five Turks and four
Americans were killed in the crash. He said that the names of the
victims would not be released until the bodies have been formally
identified.
Boeing Co. said late Thursday that two of its employees were
killed and third injured in the crash. Boeing previously provided
the names of its four employees who were aboard the plane, but its
latest statement did not specify which were killed or injured.
Haarlemmermeer also said Thursday that investigators now say 135
passengers and crew were on the flight, not 134 as previously
believed, which was one reason it had taken so long to account for
the dead.
At the crash site Thursday, investigators took detailed photos
of the wreckage, trying to piece together why the plane lost speed
and crashed.
One survivor, Henk Heijloo, said the last message he heard from
the captain was for flight crew to take their seats. He said it
took him time to realize the landing had gone wrong.
"We were coming in at an odd angle, and I felt the pilot give
the plane more gas," he said. He thought the pilot might have been
trying to abort the landing, because the nose came up.
Then he realized the landing was too rough to be normal and a
moment later he felt an enormous crash.
He walked away apparently uninjured, but his body began aching
Thursday, he said.
Turkish Airlines chief Temel Kotil said the captain, Hasan
Tahsin Arisan, was an experienced former air force pilot. Turkish
officials said the plane was built in 2002.
Turkish Airlines issued a statement Thursday denying reports
that the plane had had technical problems in the days before the
accident.
It confirmed the plane had undergone routine maintenance on Feb.
19, and that it had to delay a flight Feb. 23 to replace a faulty
caution light.
A retired pilot who listened to a radio exchange between air
traffic controllers and the aircraft shortly before the crash said
he didn't hear anything unusual.
"Everything appeared normal," said Joe Mazzone, a former Delta
Air Lines captain. "They were given clearance to descend to 7,000
feet."
The recording was posted by the Web site LiveATC.net, which
captures air traffic exchanges by monitoring scanners near
airports.
"Turkish 1951 descending from level 7-0," one of the pilots
said as they neared the airport, referring to the plane's altitude
of 7,000 feet.
The controller cleared the plane to descend to an altitude of
4,000 feet, where it would intercept an electronic beam guiding the
plane to the runway.
The controller then read out the proper radio frequency for
requesting clearance to land. "Turkish 1951 contact the tower
11827, bye bye," he said
"Thank you, sir," the pilot said. There was no indication of
trouble in his voice.
Weather at the airport at the time was cloudy with a slight
drizzle.
---
Associated Press Writers Mike Corder in The Hague, Slobodan
Lekic in Brussels, Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, and Airlines
Writer Harry R. Weber in Atlanta contributed to this report.
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