NTSB Prepares to Recover 50-Ton Section of Crashed Jet

Forward section of TransAir Flight 810's fuselage (NTSB)

Published Oct 11, 2021 12:31 AM by The Maritime Executive

The NTSB is getting ready to recover the submerged wreck of a jetliner from the ocean floor off Honolulu, Hawaii, including one very large fuselage segment.

The aircraft is a Boeing 737-200 freighter, TransAir Flight 810, which ditched in Mamala Bay shortly after takeoff from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu on July 2. The aircrew reported that both engines failed shortly after takeoff, and they crash-landed after about 11 minutes of flight. 

Both pilots - the only two occupants onboard - were injured but survived the water landing. The wreckage came to rest on an ocean shelf at a depth ranging from about 350-450 feet, according to NTSB. 

The Eclipse Group-operated research ship Bold Horizon and a Curtin Maritime-owned crane barge will deploy to the site to conduct the recovery. According to Eclipse's vessel specifications, Bold Horizon has a six-ton A-frame on the stern for lifting, a deck crane and a 15-ton trawl winch. She also carries a work-class ROV for deep-water submerged operations, and this will be essential for rigging up wreckage for lifting.

The mission's targets include the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, which should be located within a quarter-mile-long linear debris field.  The salvors will also recover the aircraft's engines, which weigh about 3,000 pounds each, and two segments of the fuselage. A crane mounted on the barge will handle the heavier fuselage sections, and the heaviest segment weighs nearly 100,000 pounds, NTSB Senior Air Safety Investigator Lorenda Ward said in a briefing Saturday. 

Sea state allowing, the operation to bring in the engines should take several days, and the fuselage sections should take another week, Ward said. About 40 people will be involved in supporting the operation. 

Rhoades Aviation Inc., a division of Hawaiian freight line Transair, was the operator of Flight 810. It has ceased operating its remaining Boeing 737-200 aircraft because the Federal Aviation Administration revoked its license for aircraft inspection, citing maintenance deficiencies. The company's turboprop aircraft operations, which are housed under a separate division, have continued unaffected.