Federal officials say it is irrelevant that the pilots of a Continental Airlines jet laughed about the dating habits of a stewardess but never discussed the blizzard outside moments before the plane crashed.
Continental's Flight 1713 flipped over on takeoff at Stapleton International Airport on Nov. 15, 1987, killing both pilots and 26 other people. The National Transportation Safety Board plans to announce its decision on the cause of the crash next month.A two-minute, 45-second part of the cockpit conversation had been deleted from transcripts issued by the NTSB last January. The board said at the time that portion was not pertinent to the investigation.
The Denver Post, in a copyright story Tuesday, said it obtained the missing section in which the pilots were engaged in a lighthearted discussion about the dating habits of a flight attendant and did not discuss the blizzard.
"`She said she doesn't date pilots. She doesn't go for one-night stands,"' the newspaper quoted pilot Frank Zvonek, 43, as saying.
"`How come she doesn't date pilots?"' co-pilot Lee Edward Bruecher responded. "Is it the same reason why I don't date flight attendants?" (Laughter.)
NTSB spokesman Ted Lopat-kiewicz said Tuesday that segment of the tape would not be considered in the board's decision on the cause of the crash.
"The fact is that (the missing portion) is not important," he said. "Whether it was talking about baseball or home mortgages or whatever is not important."
The NTSB has determined that Breucher, 26, was at the controls when the DC-9 crashed. The investigation showed a flight attendant who survived expressed concern before takeoff that Breucher, with only 361/2 hours in that type of aircraft, had enough experience to be flying in a snowstorm.