View Full Version : United FLT 93 transcript released

12th Apr 2006, 22:45
From the Washington Post - April 12 ,2006

The jury in the death penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui today heard the gruesome sounds of Sept.11 hijackers assaulting the crew of United Airlines Flight 93, followed by a life-or-death revolt by passengers as they attacked the cockpit and tried to wrest control of the plane.

Today's court session marked the first time that the 32-minute recording from the plane's cockpit voice recorder has been played in public. It captured the sounds of the struggle in the minutes before the plane crashed in a field in western Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001, foiling the hijackers' apparent plan to fly it to Washington and crash it into the U.S. Capitol.

This artists rendering shows National Transportation Safety Administration Chief of Recorder Division James Cash, second from left, testifying about the cockpit recording from United Airlines Flight 93. (Dana Verkouteren -- AP)

The recording indicates that passengers got up to or through the cockpit door twice, but that the hijackers managed to repel the attack the first time. Amid sounds of struggle as the plane was descending rapidly, a passenger can be heard shouting, "Turn it up!" Apparently intent on crashing the aircraft rather than let passengers take it over, one of the hijackers shouted in Arabic, "Down, down! Pull it down! Pull it down!"

Shortly after 10 a.m., the plane banked to the right, went upside down and crashed, according to instrument readings displayed for the jury as the voice recording was played.

Jurors and family members of Sept. 11 victims sat transfixed by the presentation in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. Moussaoui appeared bored, evidently not paying much attention to the recording or the visual presentation.

Prosecutors subsequently wrapped up their case for Moussaoui's execution.

The link below is about 9 pages and is from the CVR of United flight 93.
It is not for the faint-hearted.

United 93 Transcript PDF (http://members.cox.net/flyme2thamoon/UTD93transcript.pdf)

13th Apr 2006, 00:24
It's a pity the transcript does not show the microphone sources. According to the news, some exclamations are supposed to be those of passengers in the cabin?? Even with the cockpit door open, the area microphone would not pick up any passenger cabin dialouge.

13th Apr 2006, 00:55
The link below is about 9 pages and is from the CVR of United flight 93.
It is not for the faint-hearted.It appears plausible that the portions represented in boldface are translated (presumably from Arabic, and entirely the hijackers), while the non-boldface italic portions were originally in English: sometimes hijackers, sometimes crew, and sometimes passengers.
Did the source comment on this point?

13th Apr 2006, 02:22
It's a pity the transcript does not show the microphone sources. According to the news, some exclamations are supposed to be those of passengers in the cabin?? Even with the cockpit door open, the area microphone would not pick up any passenger cabin dialouge.

The CAM did pretty well in picking up passengers with the cockpit door both open and closed in VJ592.

13th Apr 2006, 13:17
The next Muppet who wants to turn this into a political rant or diatribe will find that it is a wasted effort. Conspiracy theorists and minutae diggers can go to the Jet Blast forum where a copy of this thread will be merged with the interminable 'Hamster Wheel' thread.

The transcript makes interesting reading for those of us who operate these types of aircraft. That's it. It isn't an excuse for anyone else to debate the politics or for weirdos to conjure up conspiracy theories.


13th Apr 2006, 13:30
Danny this isn't a political/conspiracy rant. I just wanted to add something here.

On September 10th 2002 I was checking in as normal and I got a staff standby infront of me, she was trying to get back to SFO via LHR. She asked could I see the loads on UA flights out of LHR, I had a look at the info that was available to us and said they were pretty heavy and I didn't think she would be lucky today, however the day after, unsurprisingly, was very quiet. At which point she burst into tears. She was UA cabin crew and had lost her best friend on 9/11. For her sake and all those who lost their lives and their families and friends stop coming up with theories and sniping on this thread.

Low Flier
13th Apr 2006, 13:32
Isn't there a Federal law against releasing the soundtrack of CVRs to anyone other than bona fide air accident investigators?

Does the FAR have some kind of getout clause which enables CVR tapes to be played in order to pep up a case against someone who is held liable for a crash?

13th Apr 2006, 14:00
Low Flier's point is important. I had always imagined CVR transcripts to be protected by international agreements and protocols. Release of the data held on them should surely only be in cases pursuant to flight safety, and not even in this particularly unpleasant trial, to facilitate a criminal conviction.

To see, and worse still possibly hear these recordings released into the public domain is vile, and is a gross invasion of the privacy of the individuals concerned.

I am greatly disturbed to think that our fellow airmen and their families, loved ones, and friends, should have their last moments made public, and I reiterate again it should only be to further flight safety, and for no other reason.

Like Low Flier, I would like a clearer understanding of how these devices are protected by law. Flying lawyer, I hope you read this, please help!

In the case of Egyptair 990, the CVR transcripts were made public with indecent haste. In one of GECAT's training centres a year ago, I was appalled to see 2 young guys casually listening to CVR tapes from fatal accidents, playing over a website they had found on the internet. They were not English speakers, and I could not speak their native tongue, but I managed to convey to them how distasteful I thought their actions were.

I don't believe the authorities across the globe apply the rules adequately to these devices. Heaven help us if the FAA/NTSB gets its way and flight deck DVD recorders are installed. Protecting video footage would be a nightmare.

In summary, we should fight to protect the privacy of our colleagues in the event of disaster. We should ensure their loved ones are not subjected to further grief and indignation as a result of this information being relaesed publicly and lastly, it is time we moved the issue of flight safety forward into a proactive phase. Waiting for an accident to happen is not as effective as using QAR data in a properly managed flight safety program to highlight problems before they cause loss of life.

13th Apr 2006, 14:45
US law forbids the public release of any CVR audio from crashes in the US, although they can be used in litigation, and if used in legal proceedings are still banned from publication. The last one that went public was the Palm 90 B737 from 1982. There are other recordings out there, but they are not American, or if they are American, the accident was not in the US, or they are ATC tapes, whose recordings cannot be kept secret in the US. The transcripts, however, are routinely published in full by the NTSB.

The FBI investigates crimes in the air, not the NTSB. This explains the unclear format of the UA93 transcript. If it had been a “normal” crash, the NTSB CVR transcript would assign the speech to all individuals they could identify, including the terrorists. But as in other FBI transcripts of CVR tapes (the attack on the FedEx crew by a disgruntled f/e, for example), which they do themselves instead of getting the more practised NTSB folk to do it, the assignment of names or roles to each of the speakers is not well done. As a result, we have a transcript which is much less intelligible than it could be. The fact they didn't assign names or roles to the speakers also tends to support the argument that it was produced in court not to aid understanding, but for shock value. Prosecutors are trying to grant Moussaoui's desire to be executed, after all, and this is great ammunition. (If you are worried about the sensitivities of the friends and relatives of those on board, remember that they have already heard the CVR audio in private).

If correlated with the DFDR, we could also know exactly what the terrorists did with the controls to try and knock the revolting passengers off their feet, and where the final comments come in relation to the final dive. The NTSB would also have correlated the phone calls from the plane with the CVR and DFDR timelines. I think this is pretty shameful. The prosecutors and the FBI want us to know enough about what happened to be shocked, but not enough to be able to do a precise, second by second, reconstruction based on the known data, which would be valuable to airlines and security experts in general.

The international practice regarding CVRs and CVR transcripts varies widely. In the UK and most of Europe the full transcript is not published, only what the investigators think is relevant. IMHO publishing transcripts is vital for an understanding of what went on in an accident and the Europeans are wrong to withold them.

I agree that using QARs is better than using CVRs and DFDRs, but publishing the transcripts is a vital aid to others attempting to understand what went wrong in accidents. Simply to have the investigation report is not enough. So many lessons can be learned from a useful CVR transcript: how does normality transition to emergency? Only looking at the real thing will tell you.

14th Apr 2006, 11:50
Isn't there a Federal law against releasing the soundtrack of CVRs to anyone other than bona fide air accident investigators?
In what format?

If that is true, I've got some very illegal material on my book shelves, plus can point to some equally illegal material online.


14th Apr 2006, 15:19

I'm not sure that there really is a US law covering the release of CVR recordings. If there was it would equally apply to all citizens and to my knowlege nobody has been arrested nor prosecuted.

I do, however believe that the NTSB is bound under its operating rules not to release its own copies publically.

Stubenfliege 2
14th Apr 2006, 23:20
Hi ya EAL401,

I would gues, there is a difference between the "written transcript" and the "audio copies". Written transcript is OK (with exclamations for private details or censored stuff, like maledictions or other things), audio copies not in the USA.

This might alter from country to country. Here in Germany, we were treated on and on on with the audio copie of the CVR from the Birgenair crash back in 1996. They have a TV documentation on the private SAT 1 where they hired a commercial pilot, who commented and criticed every single word of the doomed turkish crew. It was real frightning.

With regards,


18th Apr 2006, 11:59
Pardon my imprecision. US Federal law only prevents the NTSB from publishing any CVR audio, and it looks like they have never leaked any. But lawyers can get them during the litigation, so they could, theoretically, leak them to the press, but there was a very strong reaction in the US to the release of CVR audio of AA965, the 757 that hit the mountain near Cali in 95, and that is probably what has prevented them doing it again.

18th Apr 2006, 18:12
while I agree with the release of the cvr transcript...the new movie coming out "United 93" seems a bit premature, i found out about the attacks during physics class at college and subsequently watched on the most of it unfold on live tv.
while I'm not a direct victim, nor do i know any direct victims or families, but needless to say, it was a devastating attack i can't beleive it will now be capitalized upon with thousands of families still dealing with that event..ironically that's the price of freedom.

20th Apr 2006, 12:08
... is here.

http://www.airdisaster.com/cvr/atcwav.shtml :sad: