- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 24, 2009

TOKYO (AP) - Investigators hauled away charred wreckage and planes began to land again Tuesday morning on the main runway of Japan’s largest international airport, where a day earlier a FedEx cargo flight crashed and exploded, killing its two pilots.

About 170 workers labored Monday night under giant construction lights to clean up the scene and remove the remnants of the MD-11 cargo plane, pieces of which were put onto large flatbed trucks and moved to a spot about 1,000 feet (300 meters) away for investigation.

The runway was declared fit for use by airport officials and officially reopened at 9:10 a.m. Tuesday.

The plane’s black box data recorder and cockpit voice recorders have been recovered and the data seems to be usable, according to Transport Ministry spokesman Michinobu Osuka. Officials from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board were expected to arrive in Tokyo on Tuesday afternoon to assist in the investigation, he said.

A team of officials from FedEx Corp. landed in Tokyo on Tuesday morning to take part in the investigation. William Margaritis, senior vice president of communications, told reporters at the airport it was too early to speculate on what caused the accident.

“We have a team of experts here to work closely with our folks here in Japan, and with the government authorities, to get all the necessary information about the incident, and we’re going to spend as much time as necessary until we get to all the issues and the facts and the information that we need,” he said.

The first fatal crash at Tokyo’s Narita airport left a scorched, debris-strewn trail down the longer of its two landing strips, which remained closed for about 27 hours after the crash. The American pilot and co-pilot _ Kevin Kyle Mosley, 54, and Anthony Stephen Pino, 49 _ were killed.

Dozens of flights were canceled or rerouted, and at least 10,000 passengers were affected. About 500 spent the night at the airport, according to spokeswoman Misuho Fukuda.

In video footage, the plane appeared to bounce on its landing, slamming down, veering sharply to the left and then exploding into a fireball as it flipped and skidded to a halt in a grassy strip next to the runway. It was arriving from Guangzhou, China, where last month FedEx opened a new $150 million operations hub for the Asia-Pacific region.

It was the first fatal crash in the company’s 37-year history, according to U.S. FedEx spokesman Maury Lane.

Investigators have said the accident may have been caused by low-level turbulence or wind shear _ sudden gusts that can lift or smash an aircraft into the ground during landing.

Some pilots have also said the MD-11 can be difficult to handle. The plane, which has been largely retired from passenger service because of the introduction of more economical planes, has been involved in previous accidents in which it flipped while landing.

The plane has had no fatal crashes since 1999.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide