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Denver Plane Crash Investigators Say "Odd Noise" Heard Before Accident

Dec 23, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP A Continental Airlines jet that careened off a runway in Denver on Saturday made "an odd noise" just before the accident, investigators said yesterday.  According to a report in the Associated Press, the "rattling and bumping noise" could be heard on the flight's data records about 41 seconds after the Boeing 737 started its trip down the runway at Denver International Airport.

The Denver plane crash occurred at around 6:18 p.m. on Saturday evening, when Continental flight 1404 to Houston was attempting to take off from Denver International Airport. According to USA Today, a spokesperson for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the aircraft had traveled about one third of the length of the runway when it veered to the left and skidded into a ravine.  The aircraft broke apart upon impact and burst into flames. The plane’s left engine was ripped away along with all the landing gear, the Associated Press said. According to airport officials, the runway was free of snow and dry at the time of the crash.

Thirty-eight people, including the captain, were hurt in the accident. At least two were critically injured, and as of last evening, five people remained hospitalized.  According to, most of the injuries were bone fractures and bruises.

NTSB investigators have theorized that the noises heard on the data recorder indicate that aircraft may have been experiencing a problem with landing  gear, tires or brakes when it crashed.  Such a problem could have caused the plane's wheels to lock up, CNN said.

According to a report in The New York Times, investigators said the flight's voice and data recorders, which were recovered over the weekend, contained "good data."  Conversations between the plane's captain and the first officer could be heard, the Times said.  

The NTSB still has to interview the captain - who is hospitalize and in serious condition - as well as the first officer.  Investigators began interviewing other crew members yesterday.

According to CNN, the NTSB could have a preliminary report on the Denver plane crash ready in about a week, but  final draft could take a year.

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