NTSB Sends Go Team To Investigate
ANN REALTIME UPDATE
12.21.08 1041 EST: The National Transportation Safety
Board has dispatched a Go Team to Denver, CO to investigate the
crash of a Continental Airlines Boeing 737-500 on takeoff
NTSB Senior Air Safety Investigator Bill English is the
Investigator-in-Charge for the team of approximately a dozen
investigators. NTSB Member Robert Sumwalt is accompanying the team
and will serve as principal spokesman for the on-scene
investigation. The Go Team is expected to arrive in Denver late
As noted in ANN's earlier story, Flight 1404 to Houston exited
the side of runway 34R on takeoff at approximately 6:20 pm MST
Passengers onboard the aircraft told The Associated Press the
aircraft's nose raised into the air, then dropped suddenly back
down before the aircraft exited the runway, its right wing on
"Everybody was yelling, 'The plane's going to blow up, the
plane's going to blow up!' The plane was on fire -- the engine was,
anyway," Gabriel Trejos told KUSA-9 in Denver.
Alex Zamora described a chaotic scene as people struggled to
exit the airplane. "There was already smoke in the cabin and people
were jumping over seats," he recounted to KMGH-7. "Everyone was
pushing and shoving and everyone was falling a little because the
wing was smashed on the side, so people were slipping, but most of
us got out OK."
Images of the wreckage show the 737 sitting at the bottom of a
wide, shallow ravine, the top of its fuselage cracked aft of the
wing box. The right wing is bent sharply upward inboard of the
engine pylon, with the right engine nacelle still
The plane's left nacelle was sheared off, as was the plane's
Local media reports as many as 58 injuries among the 110
passengers (revised from 107 -- Ed.) and
five crewmembers onboard the airliner, with two in critical
condition. The accident closed the west portion of DEN's sprawling
airfield for several hours.
At this writing, runway 16L/34R remains closed. Runway 7/25,
which lies south of the accident site, reopened about two hours
after the accident, and officials in DEN expect to reopen runway
16R/34L later Sunday.
The accident aircraft, N18611, was built in 1994.
(Screengrab image from KUSA-9)
0001 EST: A Continental Airlines Boeing 737-500
went off the runway on takeoff from Denver International Airport
Saturday night, injuring at least 38 of the 112 passengers and crew
Flight 1404 to Houston impacted a ravine off the side of the
runway at approximately 6:20 pm MST. News reports from local and
national media state the aircraft ran off the runway and into a
ditch due to "unknown circumstances," according to the FAA.
As is to be expected at this stage, there are conflicting
reports about what transpired. A reliable source tells ANN
preliminary information indicates the aircraft drifted left of
centerline approximately 2,000 feet into its takeoff run down
Runway 34R, with the plane's right engine nacelle and wing bearing
the brunt of the impact as the plane ran off the pavement.
Other reports state the airliner did briefly become airborne,
but impacted the ground soon thereafter. Winds at the time were
reportedly blowing from the west, and had increased from 11 knots
at 6 pm to 24 knots within minutes after the accident.
DEN spokesman Jeff Green told KCNC-4 the plane caught fire, but
airport fire crews responded quickly. Six fire trucks and
approximately 20 ambulances were at the scene within minutes.
Passengers exited the plane via the slides, and it appears most
of the injuries occurred during evacuation. None of the injuries
are reported to be life-threatening, though several passengers have
been treated at area hospitals for broken bones.