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Crash data from Amazon cargo plane expected within days

SOME of the initial answers to the question of why a cargo jet abruptly plummeted into shallow water off the Texas coast last week could be days away, according to New York's FreightWaves

Crash data from Amazon cargo plane expected within days

SOME of the initial answers to the question of why a cargo jet abruptly plummeted into shallow water off the Texas coast last week could be days away, according to New York's FreightWaves

05 March 2019 - 19:00

SOME of the initial answers to the question of why a cargo jet abruptly plummeted into shallow water off the Texas coast last week could be days away, according to New York's FreightWaves.

Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings' flight 3591 was en route to Houston from Miami on February 23 when it crashed into Trinity Bay in Anahuac, Texas. All three crewmembers were killed.



Over the past weekend, investigators with the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recovered the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder from the wreckage. 'Both have been transported to our labs here in Washington, DC and are currently being looked at,' NTSB spokesman Kenneth Holloway told FreightWaves.



Mr Holloway said that an initial review of the data from the two devices could be made public 'any day now', but that a full transcript of the voice recorder data could take several months.



The Atlas Air jet was one of 20 Boeing 767-300s the company leased out to Seattle-based e-tailer Amazon.com through a contract whereby Atlas provides aircraft, crew, maintenance, and insurance services to Amazon.



The crash raised new concerns about cargo airline safety, with news reports quoting statistics indicating all-cargo airlines lagging behind the passenger airlines.



President of the Cargo Airline Association, Steve Alterman, of which Atlas Air is a member, said that 'it would be irresponsible for me or anyone else to speculate on what might have caused' the Atlas Air crash. 'We fly millions of flights and we're incredibly safe, and there's no evidence showing that there are systemic problems.'



NTSB will be looking closely at the type of cargo on board to determine if hazardous materials, such as lithium ion batteries, may have contributed to the accident.



The crash occurred four days prior to an interim final rule that was issued by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Association (PHMSA), an agency within the US Department of Transportation, regarding lithium batteries transported by air. The new rules, which are meant to harmonise with international regulations that went into effect in 2016, requires lithium ion cells and batteries 'to be shipped at not more than a 30 per cent state of charge aboard cargo-only aircraft when not packed with or contained in equipment'.



However, the rules fall short of recommendations made by the NTSB in February 2016, urging PHMSA to adopt regulations that limit the density of lithium batteries loaded in one place on an aircraft, and also segregating them from flammable liquids to reduce the severity of a potential cargo fire.


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