Source Pravda.Ru

NTSB keeps up investigation as damaged airliner is moved off Chicago street

A damaged airliner was hauled off a city street on Saturday as federal aviation officials tried to determine why it slid off a Midway Airport runway and crashed into traffic, where it killed a 6-year-old boy.

Representatives of the National Transportation Safety Board also arranged to interview the pilots of the &to=http://english.pravda.ru/accidents/21/97/384/15988_.html' target=_blank>Southwest Airlines Boeing 737.

"We're just going to ask them if they know what happened from their point of view," said Keith Holloway, an NTSB spokesman.

Southwest said the captain piloting Thursday's flight has been with the airline for more than 10 years, and the first officer has flown with Southwest for 2 1/2 years. It was the first fatal crash in the airline's 35-year history.

Workers used a crane with a sling to lift the airplane, which had been sitting in the middle of the street since Thursday, and move it onto airport property, Holloway said.

The street, just beyond the end of a runway, remained closed.

The plane had been landing in a snowstorm when it slid off the end of the 6,500-foot (1950-meter) runway, plowed through a fence and struck two cars. Ten people, most of them on the ground, were injured and the boy was killed in a car driven by his father.

The plane's voice and data recorders were sent to Washington for analysis, NTSB member Ellen Engleman Conners said.

Though the airport had about 7 inches (17.8 centimeters) of snow at the time, aviation officials said conditions were acceptable. Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly said the plane showed no signs of maintenance problems.

Midway _ built in 1923 and surrounded by houses and businesses _ is among nearly 300 U.S. commercial airports without 1,000-foot (300-meter) buffer zones at the ends of runways.

Safety experts suggest the airports guard against accidents by using beds of crushable concrete that can slow an aircraft if it slides off the runway's end.

The crushable concrete beds _ called Engineered Material Arresting Systems _ are installed at 18 runways at 14 airports. They have stopped dangerous overruns three times since May 1999 at Kennedy Airport in New York.

Chicago Department of Aviation spokeswoman Wendy Abrams could not immediately say whether an arresting system had been considered at Midway.

Some pilots say relatively short runways like Midway's pose a challenge in icy or snowy weather, forcing them to touch down as close as possible to the beginning of the runway to allow more braking time.

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