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Tapes Only One Element of Timeline of Crash

May 29, 1996

MIAMI (AP) _ The newly recovered cockpit voice recorder and other data from ValuJet Flight 592 will be used to construct a timeline of the doomed flight’s final minutes, investigators said Tuesday.

The cockpit tape, radar readings, flight data recorder and air traffic control conversations all will be used to piece together the DC-9′s 10- to 12-minute flight before it crashed nose-first into the Florida Everglades, killing all 110 people aboard.

It will be at least weeks before the recordings are fully analyzed and months before the timeline is ready, said Michael Benson, spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board.

``It takes so much time and analysis, we need experts to sit down and decipher what a noise could be,″ said NTSB spokesman Patrick Cariseo. ``Any sound the tape records, noise of machinery, a human voice, is so valuable.″

Meanwhile, four more victims of Flight 592 were identified Tuesday by the medical examiner’s office, bringing the total to 12, spokesman Charles Nicolas said. The names were not released.

The jet slammed into the swampy Everglades May 11 shortly after takeoff from Miami International Airport.

Preliminary analysis of the voice recorder, found Sunday, indicates that moments before the jet crashed, the cockpit door opened and someone reported fire in the cabin. There also was word that passengers were having problems getting oxygen.

Air traffic control conversations showed the pilot also reported smoke in the cockpit and was unable to locate the nearest airport.

The data recorder, recovered May 13, showed a sudden decline in altitude and air speed that ground radar didn’t register.

Representatives from the plane manufacturer, McDonnell Douglas, the engine maker, Pratt & Whitney, ValuJet, the NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration were studying the voice recorder, which tapes cockpit conversations, mechanical and other background sounds.

Meanwhile, salvage workers are building a pontoon platform bridge to the crash crater so that heavy equipment can dredge for heavy pieces of wreckage.

Investigators still are searching for evidence to support the theory that a fire was ignited or fueled by hazardous oxygen canisters in the front cargo hold. The partly melted and scorched aluminum frame of a passenger seat has been recovered along with heat-damaged parts of the canisters.

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