TransAir 737 Wreckage Salvage Effort Successful, NTSB Says
A multi-part salvage operation has recovered the flight and cockpit voice recorder, engines, and major fuselage sections of the TransAir Boeing 737-200 freighter that ditched offshore near Honolulu in July, the NTSB said Nov. 2.
The recovery effort began Oct. 12, when the Bold Horizon, a San Diego-based research vessel equipped with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and other underwater retrieval equipment, set off for the wreckage site. The vessel, hired by TransAir’s insurance provider to recover wreckage and cargo, had two NTSB investigators, two Boeing engineers, and a team of recovery specialists.
Using the ROV to rig components with cables, the Bold Horizon pulled both engines and nose landing gear to shore on Oct. 17. Three days later, a 37-ft. section of forward fuselage was pulled to the surface and brought to shore.
That left a 63-ft. section of rear fuselage, wings, and empennage that contained the two recorders and four cargo pallets. The Bold Horizon crew pulled the structure up on Oct. 30 and got it to shore a day later, the NTSB said.
Investigators will now analyze the wreckage and recorders as part of their probe.
“The recovery of the recorders and virtually the entire airplane represents a major step forward in the investigation,” NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said. “We are so appreciative of the collaborative efforts of the federal and state agencies, parties and contractors that contributed to this successful outcome.”
TransAir Flight 810, bound for Kahului, Hawaii, reported anomalies in both engines and subsequently ditched into Mamala Bay shortly after takeoff from Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport on July 2. The two pilots escaped from the wreckage and were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Honolulu Airport Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting Unit.
The 737-200’s fuselage broke into two pieces and came to rest on an ocean shelf 350-450 ft below the surface, about 2 mi. from Honolulu’s Ewa Beach.
Investigators have released few details on the accident flight or the aircraft’s history beyond confirmation of the crew reporting engine trouble. The FAA on July 16 said it suspended the maintenance inspection authority of Honolulu-based TransAir parent Rhoades Aviation, based on investigators’ initial findings.