SAN FRANCISCO -- Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board are wrapping up the on-scene work in their inquiry into the Saturday’s Asiana Airlines crash, officials said.
Board Chairwoman Deborah A.P. Hersman said Thursday that although the investigation into the incident will take months to complete, teams are expected to finish “the perishable things” -- such as documenting the aircraft, gathering analytics and interviewing witnesses -- in the coming days.
Other work will continue at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “There’s a lot more that we have to review before we get to the end of this process.”
Two people were killed and 182 injured when the Boeing 777’s landing gear and tail struck a seawall and slammed into a runway at San Francisco International Airport.
Although the jet remained in a grassy field off Runway 28L, the runway itself was turned over to the airport Wednesday night so workers could begin to clear the debris. Three buses of crash survivors and their families surveyed the site Wednesday night, Hersman added.
“An awful lot” of plane parts were scattered across the area, with pieces large enough they will be moved by cranes and small enough to be picked up by hand, Hersman said. Some has already been removed.
The NTSB has taken some items, such as the evacuation slides, and are still combing through the jet itself, Hersman said. The team documenting the interior of the cabin -- and each of its 300-plus seats -- expected to complete their work by Thursday evening.
A contractor is also searching the plane for personal effects left behind by passengers in an attempt to clean and return the items to their owners, she said.
Then, Hersman said, the plane will be cut apart and moved section by section to a local hangar.
“It’s a big structure,” she said. “It’s going to be removed very carefully.”
The NTSB typically takes between 12 and 18 months to complete its reports, though Hersman said the agency hoped the Asiana crash review would “get close to or under that 12-month mark.”
“It’s going to be a high priority for our agency,” she said.