By Pat Loeb
WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS) — The National Transportation Safety Board today released some materials it has been using in its investigation of the plane crash last May that killed former Philadelphia Inquirer owner Lewis Katz and six others.
Those documents contain some dramatic moments but few apparent answers.
A transcript of the cockpit voice recorder is incomplete; the NTSB says it was partially damaged. But the final seconds of the abortive flight, planned to go from the Boston area back to Atlantic City, were clearly frantic.
The pilot repeats, eight times, that a lock is stuck, then says, “I can’t stop it!” Then, “Oh no, no…”
There’s no clear indication of what went wrong, and attorney Arthur Wolk, who specializes in aviation accidents and is representing the families of some of the victims, says he is concerned that the documents released today could be misinterpreted.
“They’ve been tailored to blame the pilots,” he charges, “and it troubles me that they haven’t provided us with a full transcript.”
Wolk says the NTSB seems to be shaping the investigation to match its initial finding that the pilots left a control, called a “gust lock,” engaged, which prevented the plane from becoming airborne.
Wolk says there is evidence that the gust locks were not engaged.
“Why is there nothing on the instrument panel, once the engines are started, that says, ‘gust lock engaged’?” he wondered aloud today.
The NTSB is not commenting. It says the documents are statements of fact, not analysis, and the probable cause of the crash will be determined later.