NEW YORK (AP) -- Crash investigators are analyzing the makeup of the tail of American Airlines Flight 587 and the possibility that turbulence from another jet caused the airliner to break apart moments after takeoff, killing 265 people.
The use of composite materials in the Airbus A300's tail and wake turbulence from a Boeing 747 are considered to be principal factors in the crash, investigators said.
All 260 people on board died Monday when Flight 587 crashed in a Queens neighborhood three minutes after takeoff from Kennedy International. Five people on the ground were killed.
The plane's tail assembly sheared away and its twin engines fell off as the jet went down. The 27-foot tail assembly was pulled out of Jamaica Bay and taken to a nearby collection center for study. Without the tail, the jetliner would have suffered a loss of stability and turning control.
An expert in composite materials from the Federal Aviation Administration was joining investigators to study the plane's tail assembly -- an analysis that could lead to corrective measures or inspections.
Investigators were also considering whether a Japan Air Lines Boeing 747 contributed to the crash by creating wake turbulence, the swirl of air behind a plane that can endanger aircraft flying too close behind or below.
Standard protocol says there should be at least two minutes between takeoffs. However, the NTSB's Marion Blakey said it appeared there was just 1 minute and 45 seconds between Flight 587 and the jumbo jet that left ahead of it from the same runway.
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