NTSB Says Final Cause Of Miami Air Plane Accident In Jacksonville Could Take 18 Months

May 6, 2019

National Transportation Safety Board's investigation into why a Miami Air Boeing 737-800 slid into the St. Johns River could take up to 18 months to complete.

The removal of the aircraft was delayed by at least a day because of rain and stormy weather conditions.

NTSB investigators updated their investigation Sunday at 4:30 p.m. with the following information.

Related: Boeing 737 Plane With 143 On Board Skids Into St. Johns River In Jacksonville

  • Left-hand thrust reverser on the plane was inoperable on 737-800 at the time of the accident. NTSB is looking thoroughly into thrust reversers.
  • Navy arranging for divers to remove pets from plane's cargo hold
  • The original plan was for pilots to land on a different runway in another direction by pilots requested to land on runway 10 which reduced the length of the runway to 7,800 feet.
  • Aircraft normally would land to the west but pilots requested a change in direction as well as runway.
  • Investigators are looking at the pilot's training, experience, fatigue and flight history.
  • NTSB is looking for any witness video of the 737 skidding off the runway to help in its probe.
  • Removal of the plane from the river was delayed by weather complications
  • The plane could be moved onto Navy property or a different facility. If they move plane far, they will likely use a barge and take extra care not to damage evidence.
  • Crews will have to empty out the fuel from the plane before it can be moved and they have begun the process.
  • Navy will allow some military jets to take off Monday but no planes will land at NAS Jax until wreckage is removed.
  • NTSB investigators don't know how much fuel has leaked into the river but booms are doing good job at containing fuel. 

So many questions remain about why the plane coming into Naval Air Station Jacksonville skidded into the St. Johns River but those questions may not be answered for quite some time.

The military-chartered jet with 143 people on board landed hard, then bounced and swerved as the pilot struggled to control it amid thunder and lightning, ultimately skidding off the runway and coming to a crashing halt in a river at Naval Air Station Jacksonville.

It meant chaos and terror for passengers in the Boeing 737 as the plane jolted back and forth and oxygen masks deployed, then overhead bins opened, sending contents spilling out.

But authorities said all the people onboard emerged without critical injuries Friday night, lining up on the wings as they waited to be rescued. Only a 3-month-old baby was hospitalized, and that was done out of an abundance of caution, officials said.

"I think it is a miracle," said Capt. Michael Connor, the base's commanding officer, hours after the plane landed. "We could be talking about a different story," he said.

An expanded version of this story that includes an interview with NTSB Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg is at News4Jax.