How do you remove a Boeing 737 from river?

NTSB must move wreckage while preserving evidence for investigation

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Over the coming days and weeks, the National Transportation Safety Board will determine how to remove a Boeing 737 jet that skidded off a runway at Naval Air Station Jacksonville and into the St. Johns River.

"We are going to be very careful in preserving the evidence because it doesn’t make any sense to tear the aircraft apart and lose any evidence you refer to as perishable data," NTSB Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg said.

Landsberg and NTSB lead investigator told media at an initial briefing Saturday that they have not determined an extrication strategy yet for the plane, but one idea is to use flotation devices to raise the plane.

"There are some ideas being floated in terms of putting some sort of cushioning below it, having that inflated and then being able to pull it off, moving it on to its cushion," Lovell said. "That is just one idea that is being looked at right now. That is being examined in detail. The resources are being assembled and the plan is being looked at.  That really is all I can say at this point."

NTSB is also looking talking to companies that specialize in this type of removal.  

"Currently we are speaking with the insurer and the salvage company under the direction of one of our NTSB specialists that specializes in looking at examining the aircraft structure in detail and how to remove the aircraft as stated," Lovell said.

Another concern while the plane is in the water is fuel leaking into the St. Johns River

"There’s different types of dangers," St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman said. "One, there’s the immediate danger with toxicity, and so if you have acute toxicity issues with marine life, that may come into contact with the oil that’s out there. And then you also have secondary impacts of damage to habitat. So once we know more about the volume, we’ll know more about the risk."

While the investigation and recovery process is underway, runway No. 10 at NAS Jacksonville will remain closed.


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