Not Much Room For Error
The report says that radar data showed the Cirrus’ track up the east side of Roosevelt Island, roughly the middle of the river. From that point, the plane had about 1,700 feet of clearance to the west in which to complete the turn. However, the wind would have pushed the plane 400 feet during the turn, making the available radius just 1,300 feet. At the aircraft’s speed of 97 knots, that would have required a constant bank angle of 53 degrees. “If the initial portion of the turn was not this aggressive,” the report says, “a sufficiently greater bank angle would have been needed as the turn progressed, which would have placed the airplane dangerously close to an aerodynamic stall.” Ground stations pegged the wind at 7 knots but an aircraft landing at nearby Newark Liberty International Airport was equipped with weather sensors and it recorded wind at 700 feet as 095 degrees at 13 knots. Technology will play an increasing role in the investigation. The memory chips from the airplane’s glass displays are being analyzed as are two handheld GPSs that were on board. There was also a laptop recovered from the wreckage that might contain flight information. The various manufacturers are now working to extract data from damaged equipment.