Monday, December 22, 2008

Update on the Continental Flight 1404 accident at Denver

About 36 hours have passed since Continental Flight 1404 veered off runway 34R during its takeoff roll at Denver International Airport. The Boeing 737-500 (registration N18611), which was departing for Houston, came to a rest in a ravine alongside the runway and caught fire. The accident occurred at 6:18 PM local time on December 20, 2008. All on board were evacuated using emergency slides. There were no fatalities, although 38 people were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

Damage to the aircraft was extensive. In addition to fire damage, the wings and fuselage cracked, the number one engine separated from the wing, and the landing gear sheared off. The fire appeared to have originated on the right side of the aircraft, and quickly spread to the interior of the passenger cabin.

First reports said that the plane had 112 people on board. That number has been raised to 115, counting lap children. The working crew was composed of two pilots and three flight attendants. Two deadheading crew members were said to be among the passengers.

This morning, runway 34R at Denver International Airport (DIA) remains closed while officials continue their on-scene investigation. Otherwise, all airport operations at DIA are described as "normal."

You may have seen news reports about a Twitter user who was on board Flight 1404 who sent live 'tweets' from the scene as events were unfolding. If you are interested, you can read the tweets posted by Twitter user 2drinksbehind, here.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board announced that both the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) have been recovered from the accident aircraft, and have been sent to NTSB headquarters in Washington, DC for analysis. The NTSB is planning to hold a press conference about the accident later today. If there is any significant news, I will post an update here.

There is a collection of photos of the Continental Flight 1404 crash scene on Rocky Mountain News.

[Photo Source]

UPDATE Jan. 4, 2009: The Denver Post reports that the wreckage of the Continental B737-500 has been removed from the crash scene at Denver International Airport and taken to a ramp area at DIA near Continental's hangar for further examination.

The website also has an incredible collection of close-up photos of the accident aircraft after it as moved to the ramp. Caution: Not for the faint of heart.

UPDATE Jan. 7, 2009: The U.S. National Transportation Board (NTSB) has issued a factual update on this accident.

RELATED: Click here to view all posts about Continental Flt 1404 on Aircrew Buzz.