Investigators of the
Montrose tragedy that killed three will examine a 2002 crash by
a similar jet.
of the plane’s flight crew visit the crash scene
Tuesday as investigators look on. Pilot Luis
Polanco died in the crash. His co-pilot, Eric
Wicksell, was reportedly in critical condition
at Denver Health Medical Center.
Montrose - Air safety investigators said they are
interested in looking at the similarities between Sunday's crash
of a Challenger 601 and a similar accident in England in 2002,
which British officials blamed on ice on a Challenger's wings.
In addition, they will explore the snowy conditions and the
length of the runway, officials said.
"Nothing is being ruled out right now," said Arnold Scott,
who is heading the National Transportation Safety Board
investigation of the crash that killed three people, including
Teddy Ebersol, the 14-year-old son of NBC Sports chairman Dick
Ebersol. "This airplane was designed to fly in icy conditions. I
don't know if it had ice on it or not or if that was a factor."
Also on Tuesday, the Ebersol family released a statement
saying: "In the wake of this tragedy, we are touched by the
overwhelming outpouring of love from people all over the world.
We will miss Teddy, our sweet boy, forever."
The family was making arrangements to fly Teddy's body to the
East Coast for a funeral.
In the statement, the family said
they were proud of Charlie Ebersol, another son who was on
board, "who pulled his father from the flames. That anyone was
able to survive this horrible accident is a miracle, and all of
us will forever be inspired by Charlie's courage and bravery."
Also killed in the crash were pilot Luis Alberto Polanco, 50,
and steward Warren T. Richardson III, 36.
Birmingham Crash Challenger
At noon Tuesday, a dark van carrying families of crew members
visited the crash scene.
The plane's co-pilot, Eric S. Wicksell, was still in critical
condition at Denver Health Medical Center, Montrose County
Coroner Mark Young said.
Dick and Charlie Ebersol were still hospitalized in Grand
In Montrose, investigators began in earnest to comb through
the wreckage of the jet to learn why the chartered plane
NTSB officials said they have a good recording from the
plane's cockpit voice recorder and are looking at a variety of
causes, including the fact the plane wasn't de-iced, other
problems caused by snowy weather, and the shortness of the
runway used by the flight crew.
Runway 13-31 is 1,603 feet shorter than the airport's other
The pilot on Sunday chose to land on the longer runway and
wanted to use it again for takeoff but was told he would have to
wait because it was being plowed at the time.
Video and graphic
Click here for a 9NEWS video report
on Sunday's fatal crash.
Click here for an illustration of the
"The captain said, 'Can you get the equipment off the
runway?"' said Scott. The snowplow operator said he could.
The pilot asked how long it would take, Scott said, and got
the response that the snowplow would be off the runway
The pilot didn't wait.
"There was no more communication with the pilot. The airplane
came onto the short runway and went on his takeoff roll. The
airplane was capable of taking off on that runway. But it was a
short runway versus a long runway. That is something we are
The plane apparently had dropped off Dick Ebersol's wife,
actress Susan Saint James, at the airport after a holiday in
California. The next stop for the chartered jet was South Bend,
Ind., where Charlie is a senior at Notre Dame.
Officials on Tuesday flew the cockpit voice recording from
Denver to Washington, D.C., where investigators first listened
to the 31-minute conversation between the pilot and co-pilot.
The recording begins when the plane lands at Montrose airport
and ends with the crash. It includes routine discussion about
the plane's safety checklist and flight planning.
Scott said the same type of plane has been involved in five
crashes over the years, including the one in England.
"We are aware of that accident, and we are going to try to
determine whether there were any similarities," he said.
Following the 2002 crash, British investigators recommended
"that Bombardier Aerospace (maker of Challenger jets) include
the following specific limitation within appropriate aircraft
manuals: 'Wings and tail surfaces must be completely clear of
snow, ice and frost prior to takeoff."'
Scott said it appears from the marks on the Montrose runway
that the plane briefly got airborne.
"I walked and rewalked it," he said. "I can see marks coming
off the runway. I have to describe it as skipping marks. If he
did become airborne, it wasn't for a long period of time."
Ground scar marks off to the runway's side indicate the left
wingtip hit the ground, the plane skewed to the left and slid on
its belly, he said.
"We don't see any evidence of cartwheeling or the airplane
going inverted," he said.
The plow operator said he had made two swipes of the short
runway before the plane began its roll, leaving a roughly
40-foot-wide path for the plane's wheels.
"This would accommodate the airplane's landing gear," Scott
The slush on the side of the plowed area was about a
quarter-inch deep, said Scott. He refused to say whether he
believed the plane's wheels had difficulty in the snow.
The investigation also includes routine inspections of the
plane's systems. Scott said there are no indications the engines
were working improperly at the time of the crash.
Investigators will research the history of the flight crew and
airplane operator as well as the plane itself. Records of the jet's
maintenance are being shipped to Colorado.
link to the rest of