The pilot of Delta Air Lines Flight 1141 told a National Transportation Safety Board hearing Tuesday that the plane's trip down the runway was normal for liftoff just before the crash that killed 14 people.

Several crew members and survivors of the Aug. 31 crash of the flight bound for Salt Lake City were among the 31 witnesses scheduled to testify during the four-day hearing at a hotel near Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport."The accident is one of the more baffling and potentially more important accidents the board has investigated in recent years," said Jim Burnett, a member of the NTSB board and head of the panel investigating the crash.

"It is perplexing because of factual inconsistencies found thus far and the importance in the critical need to resolve such very basic differences in the name of safety.

"Adding to our difficulties is the fact that flight 1141 had an antiquated flight data recorder, one found on most planes certified before September 30, 1969," he said.

The so-called foil recorder has only a small number of built-in sensors to record aircraft performance. More advanced units will be required by next May.

The NTSB has investigated the crash of the Boeing 727 for nearly three months but has not revealed the cause of the accident.