Recorder Captured 'Sounds of Impact' in Fatal Akron, Ohio, Plane Crash

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By Alex Johnson

Federal investigators are reviewing 30 minutes of cockpit audio recorded just before the fatal crash of a small business jet into an Ohio apartment building this week.

All nine people on board, including seven employees of a Florida real estate firm, died in the crash Tuesday afternoon in Akron.

The Hawker 125 7A twin-engine jet was making an initial approach to Akron Fulton Airport when it clipped power lines, veered left and plunged into the four-unit apartment structure Tuesday afternoon.

Bella Dinh-Zarr, vice chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, told reporters Thursday that the plane's cockpit recorder was damaged in the crash — but the tape inside it wasn't. She said investigators recovered 30 minutes of "poor quality" audio, including "the sounds of impact."

But she refused repeated requests to say whether the tape recorded whether the pilot and the co-pilot — both of whom had thousands of hours of flight experience and the Federal Aviation Administration's highest certification — could be heard talking about the impending crash.

"The quality is quite poor," she repeated.

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Dinh-Zarr did, however, talk at length about radio traffic between the plane and the larger Cleveland air traffic control system before the pilots switched to the channel for the Akron airport.

She said the plane was on the correct flight path, and she indicated that nothing unusual was discussed before the switch over — just weather conditions and the approach pattern.

The investigation is still early, Dinh-Zarr stressed in explaining why she wasn't giving much information. Both of the plane's turbine engines have been recovered and are being examined, and investigators are checking for any modifications, she said.