Voice, data recorders could shed light on deadly Thomson plane crash

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, April 22, 2013

THOMSON, Ga. (WRDW) -- Until now, those final moments of deadly plane crash in Thomson have remained a mystery, but that could all change. The National Transportation Safety Board recovered two recording devices from the wreckage of the corporate jet, one being the cockpit voice recorder.

Now, investigators are hoping this could be the key to figuring out why it went down.

"The airplane was also equipped with a cockpit voice recorder. The CVR, although it was badly burned, recorded the accident sequence and is being examined by investigators at this time," said NTSB Senior Air Safety Investigator Ralph Hicks.

Investigators recently found a key device found in the wreckage of the plane that may hold the answer to the February crash that killed five people.

"I know the pilot very well, and he and I've flown together. And I flew these doctors several times, so I knew all those, so I was very upset that they got killed," said Chief Pilot for Aiken Air Service Don Barnes.

Barnes has been a pilot for more than 50 years.

"Here's the intercom system," he said as he pointed to a device in his cockpit. "And anything that's said on here will be recorded if you have a voice recorder. A true voice recorder will capture any conversation in the cabin between the co-pilot, the pilot and air traffic control."

That's the very information investigators now have from the final moments before the crash.

"It did provide data in the final phases of the flight until an electrical problem was lost concurrent with the crash," Hicks said.

The pilot and co-pilot may fill in the gaps, too.

"Rick Trammel was an excellent pilot. I don't know what he remembers about the incident. Sometimes your mind blocks things like that out," Barnes said.

That's why recorders are so helpful in situations like this.

"Memories can change, and the pilots could change their story, you know, so it gives an objective evaluation of the situation at the time," Barnes explained.

In the end, technology may have to tell the story.

"I think it would be a very high probability that they'll be able to tell exactly what happened," Barnes said.

Investigators also recovered what's called an Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System that records data like airspeed and altitude.

Until there's a final report, we won't know what was recorded or what the pilots said in those last moments.

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