1. Archive

Plane's final throes detailed

The crew of an international cargo jet had only half a minute to react before the plane crashed in an airport warehouse district in August, killing all four aboard and a motorist.

The transcript of the cockpit voice recorder, along with investigative material on the Aug. 7 crash of the Fine Air jet, was released Thursday by the National Transportation Safety Board. The airline was Miami's largest all-cargo carrier serving Latin America and the Caribbean.

The transcript shows the crew's futile efforts to control the DC-8 as it began to stall after takeoff. The report also includes numerous interviews, including one with a Fine Air pilot who said he had similar trouble with a takeoff less than a month before the crash.

The information _ released as the investigation enters the public docket phase _ shows investigators continuing to focus on how the cargo was stored.

As soon as the plane took off at 12:35.52 p.m., captain Dale Patrick Thompson had trouble with the jet. He is recorded saying, "Easy, easy, easy." One second later, first officer Steven Petrosky asked, "What's going on?"

A cockpit warning indicated the plane was about to stall. The recorder caught the crew frantically trying to right the aircraft, most likely through the horizontal stabilizer and engine thrust.

"Oh no, (expletive), no!" Thompson said. "Hold on. Hold on. Keep it light, easy, (expletive)!"

The plane crashed at 12:36.25 just outside the airport, killing three crew members and a security guard on board. A motorist also lost his life.

Fine Air stopped flying between Sept. 4 and Oct. 27 when inspections found problems with cargo handling. The airline paid $1.5-million for the cost of the Federal Aviation Administration inspections.

The plane carried 45 tons of material for pants to be assembled in the Dominican Republic. Investigators found that only two of the 50 to 55 cargo pallet locks were in closed positions, indicating that the load may have shifted during takeoff.

The NTSB has said the aircraft was not overloaded, but Thursday's report included information about 1,000 pounds of cargo being removed from the flight because of a late plane change.

The cargo had been handled by Aeromar Airlines workers without supervision by Fine Air.