Pilots wanted to abort landing
National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Deborha Hersman said that there was not one, but two calls for a go-around, or aborted landing, just prior to the crash. They came seconds after the voice recorder shows the pilots first noticed their speed had fallen far below the target approach speed.
Hersman clarified earlier comments about the pilot reporting seeing a bright light on approach. She says it did not affect his ability to fly. The other pilots made no mention of a light, she said.
A firefighter who scrambled aboard the jet looking for victims as fire was breaking out told inspectors the seats in that section of the aircraft were almost pristine. "He said it looked like you just fluff the pillows and turn the airplane around it can go out for its next flight" said Hersman. But that section soon erupted in flames caused by oil spilling on hot engines, although she said the fuel tanks did not rupture.
Hersman says the group studying the flight data recorder has now covered 220 of 1,400 pieces of data, and so far there is no sign of any problems with the plane itself, including the engines, the autopilot and the autothrottles.
Hersman warns there are still mountains of data and evidence to work through. What they have released and done so far is just the tip of the iceberg.
Normally NTSB investigations take a minimum of one year to complete.
SFO working to clear runway
Runway 28 left has been shut down since the deadly crash. Now that the NTSB is nearly finished with its investigation at the crash site, crews started removing a large section of the fuselage. Removing the debris and the fuselage is only part of what needs to happen before that runway reopens, but airport officials are hopeful they can have it back open in a matter of days.
A picture released by the NTSB shows the extensive debris field near the wreckage. It includes not only parts of the plane, but also boulders from seawall that were thrown hundreds of feet.
The work of cleaning all the debris off the runway went on overnight with heavy equipment and into Thursday, as a hazmat team appeared to be working inside the plane.
"The structure will be removed to a secure location and as I've mentioned, we're already taking some of the parts that we're interested in back to our facilities in Washington D.C," NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said.
ABC7 News has learned that discussions are underway to move the fuselage to one of two giant hangers -- the "superbay" at SFO or to a similar facility across the bay at the Oakland International Airport.
Once all the debris is gone, airport officials will begin the process of restoring Runway 28 Left to a useable condition.
"We expect that there's going to be a lot of hazardous materials, jet fuel, hydraulic fluid that needs to be cleaned up in that area; we also expect that we're going to have to repave," SFO spokesperson Doug Yakel said.
Speier, Pelosi visit crash site
Thursday night Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, and San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White visited the crash site.
Speier and Pelosi were at SFO after they returned from Washington D.C. and they wanted to take a look at the wreckage. They wanted to thank the first responders, the airport, and the city so they paid tribute to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White and NTSB Chair Deborah Hersman. Speier said seeing the wreckage Thursday night was jarring.
"You see how much destruction there is and to think that 302 passengers got out and the staff and the flight attendants, it's really… it's a miracle," said Speier.
"The miracle was served by science and technology, that was what enabled many lives to be saved. What public policy can accompany that to save lives in the future," said Pelosi.
Pelosi really wants to find out what lawmakers can do in cooperation with federal and local authorities to make sure that something like this doesn't happen in the future.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.