The captain of Salt Lake City-bound Delta Flight 1141, which crashed in Dallas Aug. 31, said he hesitated to call for full power for his troubled plane until it was too late.
According to reports released by the National Transportation Safety Board, Capt. Larry Davis said "in retrospect, I should have pushed up full power immediately" when the plane got into trouble.Instead, he waited 23 seconds to call for it as he fought to correct the jet's severe pitching from side to side. The plane crashed less than a second after he finally called for full power.
Witnesses on the ground said the right wing and tail apparently struck the ground almost simultaneously, with the plane skidding and bursting into flame.
Also of interest in the reports is the fact that Davis said he cannot remember specifically checking whether the flaps on the plane were in the correct position before takeoff. Other crew members, however, apparently did make the checks, reports said.
Speculation in the press was that the crash may have been caused by flaps set in the wrong position, or not set at all.
Davis told a NTSB review board that it was the responsibility of his first officer, Cary W. Kirkland, to lower the flaps. He said Delta's procedures do not require the captain to verify the flap setting, but he normally does - but cannot specifically recall whether he checked them on Aug. 31.
Kirkland said he only remembers arriving at the plane and doing preflight checks. His next memory is waking up the next day in the hospital.
But Second Officer Steven Judd and cockpit recordings said when Judd went through a checklist and called out "flaps," Kirkland responded "15, 15 green light." So Judd believes the flap handle was properly set to 15 degrees, but he does not remember looking at the flap indicator himself.
Witnesses on the ground told the board that the wings looked "normal." A transcript of the cockpit recorder showed the airplane made a routine roll down the runway and reached proper takeoff speed.
Two seconds after the plane lifted off, a snap was heard and the pilot's control column began to shake _ warning of an impending stall.
"Something's wrong, ooh," Davis said. The plane began to sway violently, at first rolling to the right.
One passenger reported that on the second roll to the right, the right wing tip hit the ground and flames erupted.
Two seconds after the shaking began, the first of five engine compressor stalls was recorded by the flight recorder, indicating a disruption of air-flow into the engines.