On the 2nd of July we submitted an FOIA request to the NTSB, asking for the document “Flight Path Study - American Airlines Flight 77”, as cited in footnotes to the 9/11 Commission Report. The idea was to get a clearer idea of the final approach trajectory, and we were hopeful of success, as it seemed hard to imagine why this information could possibly be witheld any longer.
We weren’t alone, though, and a few days ago this same report (and plenty more) was released to the National Security Archive. If you’re interested in the details and haven’t grabbed their documents yet, then read those first.
It seemed our application was suddenly irrelevant, then. But maybe not. Soon afterwards a package turned up from the NTSB, and it did have more information than we’d expected.
Here’s what the bundled CD contained: documents 1, 4 and 6 look the most interesting.
Document 1 - NTSB report, "Specialist's Factual Report of Investigation-Digital Flight Data Recorder" for American Airlines Flight 77. This is the equivalent document to the Flight 93 study recently released to the National Security Archive (see above), graphing data from Flight 77’s flight data recorder throughout its final flight. Maybe this is available for download somewhere, but if so we’ve not seen it. If you haven’t either, then grab a copy now. 5MB PDF
Document 2 - NTSB-sourced CSV file containing the raw data used to produce the flight data recorder graphs in Document 1. Only useful if you want to process the data yourself, or perhaps check variables that haven’t been graphed. 829KB ZIP
Document 3 - NTSB report, “Air Traffic Control Recording-American Airlines Flight 77”, Dec. 21, 2001. Appears the same as document 6 in the National Security Archive release, only it’s more than ten times larger for some reason. Probably no point downloading this. 5MB PDF
Document 4 - NTSB Report, “Study of Autopilot, Navigation Equipment, and Fuel Consumption Activity, Based on United Airlines Flight 93 and American Airlines Flight 77 Digital Flight Data Recorder Information”, February 13, 2002. Not seen this before, and it does seem to provide some very useful information -- well worth a look. 396KB PDF
Document 5 - NTSB report, "Flight Path Study-American Airlines Flight 77," Feb. 19, 2002. Appears to be the same as document 2 in the National Security Archive Release, so if you’ve seen that then it’s unlikely to be worth downloading. 7.5MB PDF
Document 6 - NTSB report, “Recorded Radar Data Study”. This shows the ground track of all four 9/11 planes, information that’s basically already been revealed in the National Security Archive documents. It’s presented a little differently, though, showing the ground track over successive 15 minute periods: what was happening to the planes between 8:00 and 8:15am, 8:15 and 8:30am, and so on. There’s some detailed information on radar data sources, too, so on balance this has to be worth the download 8MB PDF