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Wed, Feb 25, 2009

Turkish B737-800 Down At Schiphol, At Least Nine Fatalities Reported

Witness Says Plane's Nose Rose Sharply Before Crash, Plane Hit Tail First

The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a team of investigators to Amsterdam's Schiphol International Airport, to assist in the investigation of a B737-800 (T-CJGE) Turkish Airlines flight 1951, inbound from Istanbul, that crashed short of the runway on approach at approximately 10:40 am local time. At least 9 fatalities have been reported among the 134 passengers and crew believed onboard.

CNN reports the aircraft impacted a field just short of the runway. The plane appears to have struck the ground tail first, with the fuselage cracked open just forward stabilizer; a second, smaller crack is visible forward of the wing. There was no post-impact fire.

RTL journalist Greg Crouch told CNN he saw the plane's nose pitch sharply up just before impact. Weather conditions were initially reported as calm and largely clear, but subsequent reports state mist was present, with temperatures of 39 degrees Fahrenheit and winds from the SSW at 12 mph.

One passenger on the plane told NTV there was no warning of any onboard emergency, with the routine announcement for passengers to fasten their seatbelts and prepare for landing the last comments made before the accident. The passenger added he felt the pilots throttle up the plane's engines just before feeling "turbulence," then a sudden drop.

Turkish Airlines has 52 737-800s in its fleet. The accident is the first fatal crash at Schiphol since 1994.

NTSB Acting Chairman Mark V. Rosenker has designated senior air safety investigator Joe Sedor as the US Accredited Representative. He will be joined by three other NTSB investigators. The US team will also include technical advisors from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Boeing and General Electric.

Information on the progress of the investigation will be released by the Dutch Safety Board.

FMI: www.safetyboard.nl, www.ntsb.gov, www.thy.com

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