(NBC News) Investigators recovered both black boxes from Asiana Airlines Flight 214 on Sunday, NTSB officials told NBC News, as the airline’s president said that engine failure was likely not the cause of the crash that killed two and injured scores more on the runway at San Francisco International Airport.
The black boxes from the aircraft, which record critical in-flight data, were recovered from the wreckage and were transported for examination on Sunday, the officials from the National Transportation Safety Board said. Investigators from the NTSB will analyze both the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder for clues as to what went wrong. The black boxes from the relatively new plane could potentially contain thousands of data points about the plane's behavior before the crash.
The two deceased passengers were identified as Chinese women in their teens, airline president Yoon Young-doo said at a press conference in Seoul, South Korea, on Sunday. The official Weibo microblog account for Asiana identified the victims as Ye Mengtuan and Wang Linjia, both 16 years old. The two were students at Jiangshan Middle School, according to the airline.
“We think there was no engine defect,” Yoon said.
A team of NTSB investigators will have its first full day on the ground Sunday, and will collect evidence and document the site of the crash that “could have been much worse,” board Chairman Debbie Hersman told Meet the Press. The recovered black boxes could yield important insights within the next 24 hours at the board’s lab in Washington, D.C., she said, where they were transported on a late-night flight under federal guard.
A photograph published on the NTSB’s official Twitter account showed Hersman and Bill English, the investigator-in-charge, looking at the charred interior of the aircraft where collapsed luggage containers and other equipment hung from the ceiling.
“We have a lot of information to go through, and I think at this point everything is still on the table for us,” Hersman said. “We have to not only identify what we’re focused on, but also to rule things out, and to do that we need good evidence.”
While the NTSB was working in conjunction with the FBI, Hersman said that there was still “no indication” that any criminal activity was involved in the crash.
More than 180 people were transported to area hospitals after the crash landing that left debris strewn across the runway and ripped open the plane’s tail.
Of the 291 passengers and 16 crew members on board at the time of the crash, 49 incurred serious injuries including fractures and burns and were taken to one of nine Bay Area hospitals. The injured ranged in age from 20 to 76 years old.
“We are very sorry for the pain to the families and passengers,” Asiana chief executive Yoon said on Sunday.