Evidence of fraud regarding flight UA93’s Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR)
by Elias Davidsson
Each commercial aircraft carries two “black boxes”, a Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and a Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR). The CVR is an extremely sturdy device that stores the last 30 minutes of sounds (including conversation) from the cockpit. An aircraft’s “black boxes” are only analyzed in the case of aircraft crashes. The only CVR found and deemed usable from 9/11 was that from flight UA93.
On 18 April 2002, the FBI invited victims’ families to listen to the CVR from Flight UA93. Department of Justice prosecutors “exhorted families not to describe the tapes’ contents because they will be played as evidence in the terrorism conspiracy trial of Zacarias Moussaoui.”1 FBI agents “asked the relatives to surrender all cell phones, palm pilots and pagers to prevent the recording of any of the day’s proceedings.”2 After the session, the family members left “under the escort of New Jersey state troopers and federal agents, who walked them to their cars and shielded them from reporters.”3 The CVR recording was played during the Moussaoui trial at the specific request of the prosecution in order to impress the jury.4 The trial judge decided, upon the request of an unidentified family member, to reseal the recording after it was played.5.
What secrets did the CVR recording hold that the FBI did not want to be widely known.
Here is what Philadelphia Daily News reported on 16 September 2002 about the contents of the CVR:
The final three minutes of hijacked United Flight 93 are still a mystery more than a year after it crashed in western Pennsylvania – even to grieving relatives who sought comfort in listening to its cockpit tapes in April. (…)
Several leading seismologists agree that Flight 93 crashed last Sept. 11 at 10:06:05 a.m., give or take a couple of seconds. Family members allowed to hear the cockpit voice recorder in Princeton, N.J., last spring were told it stopped just after 10:03. The FBI and other agencies refused repeated requests to explain the discrepancy.
But the relatives of Flight 93 passengers who heard the cockpit tape April 18 at a Princeton hotel said government officials laid out a timetable for the crash in a briefing and in a transcript that accompanied the recording. Relatives later reported they heard sounds of an on-board struggle beginning at 9:58 a.m., but there was a final “rushing sound” at 10:03, and the tape fell silent.
Vaughn Hoglan, the uncle of passenger Mark Bingham, said by phone from California that near the end there are shouts of “pull up, pull up,” but the end of the tape “is inferred – there’s no impact.”
Here is what CNN reported on 23 July 2004:
The passengers continued with their assault, trying to break through the cockpit door. At 10:02 a.m. and 23 seconds, a hijacker said, “Pull it down! Pull it down!”
“The hijackers remained at the controls but must have judged that the passengers were only seconds from overcoming them,” the report concludes.
“The airplane headed down; the control wheel was turned hard to the right. The airplane rolled onto its back, and one of the hijackers began shouting, ‘Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest.’
“With the sounds of the passenger counter-attack continuing, the aircraft plowed into an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at 580 miles per hour, about 20 minutes’ flying time from Washington, D.C.”
The story has now completely changed:
• The 10:06 a.m. seismic event and the three missing minutes have disappeared from the later account.
• We are told that hijackers were on the verge of being overwhelmed by passengers while the plane was apparently flying upside down.
• The impact of the plane with the ground now occurs at 10:03 a.m.
• In the 2002 version a hijacker is claimed to have shouted “pull it up, pull it up”. Now the hijacker is said to have shouted “pull it town, pull it down.”
• On the new version one of the hijackers allegedly shouts: “Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest”. No relative who listened to the recording in 2002, mentioned these religious exclamations.
In 2006 the story changed again. According to the San Francisco Gate of 13 April 2006:
Three minutes after 10 a.m., passengers seem to be breaking through the cockpit door, fighting with the hijackers in a futile effort to take back the throttle. “Go! Go!” they encourage one another. “Move! Move!” But the terrorists have flipped the plane upside down. They spin it downward.
“Shall we finish it off?” a hijacker asks in Arabic.
In its final plunge, the hijackers shout over and over in Arabic: “Allah is the greatest! Allah is the greatest!”
In this version not one but all of the hijackers are shouting “Allah is the greatest! Allah is the greatest!”
We have here three different versions of one and the same CVR. As these versions contradict each other, either two of them or all three are a fraud. It is, therefore, not surprising that the FBI has kept the CVR under seal.6
Beyond the discrepancies described above, the authenticity of the transcripts that have been released to the public must be questioned.
An example of a proper CVR analysis produced by the NTSB is Document DCA05MA003, Cockpit Voice Recorder – 12, of January 27, 2005. The first page names the members of the group that met on October 18, 2004 to analyze and transcribe the CVR, the aircraft type and tail number, the name of the airline and the flight number. The next pages list the name of the CVR manufacturer, its model and its serial number; a description of the audio recording and the sound quality of the four audio channels; timing and correlation and a summary description of audio events. Then follows a page explaining how audio quality is classified into five quality classes, a page with a legend explaining acronyms used throughout the transcript, and finally the transcript itself that includes the various sounds and spoken text recorded by the CVR, with the exact time they were recorded and whenever possible the identity of the speaker. No such document was produced for the CVR from flight UA93.
A list of 29 transcripts from Cockpit Voice Recorders found at numerous aircraft crash sites around the world is posted on airdisaster.com.7 These transcripts date from 1972 to 2001. A genuine CVR transcript typically includes a code of a sound’s origin, its exact time and its contents (spoken message or equipment sound). CVR transcripts, such as from flight American 1420, that crashed in Little Rock, Arkansas on January 6, 1999,8 show what the transcript of flight UA93’s CVR should have looked like and how non-verbal sounds are mentioned.
The transcript of Flight UA93’s CVR does not mention ambient sounds9 and no crash sound at the end, as would be expected,10 meaning that the transcript does not faithfully reflect what is heard on the recording, or alternately that the recording itself is a fraud. German author Gerhard Wisnewski correctly observed that the released transcript differed significantly from authentic CVR transcripts by failing to mention the aircraft’s ID, the name of the person and the agency who issued the transcript and the date the transcript was issued.11
The only public document representing the CVR that was allegedly found at the Somerset County crash site is thus an undated and unsigned timeline of spoken phrases allegedly recorded on the CVR and typed on blank paper. Such an unauthenticated piece of paper, lacking attribution, has no probative value and is rightly suspected as a fraud.
The explanation given by the FBI for the fact that the CVR does not provide any indication when and how the alleged hijackers entered the cockpit, is that the “aircraft’s cockpit voice recorder is on a 30 minute taping cycle, therefore the initial hijacker assault of Flight 93 was not captured on audio tape.”12 According to the 9/11 Commission, the assault of the cockpit occurred at 9:28,13 just in time not to be recorded.
1 Phil Hirschkorn and David Mattingly, ‘Families say Flight 93 tapes prove heroism’, CNN, 19 April 2002. Available at http://edition.cnn.com/2002/US/04/19/rec.flight.93.families/
4 United States of America v Zacarias Moussaoui, Government submission regarding relevance of cockpit voice recorders. Available at http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/moussaoui/usmouss92402gcvrsub.pdf
6 Reuters News Service, ‘FBI refuses to release cockpit tape from hijacked flight’, Houston Chronicle, 20 December 2001. Available at http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/special/terror/front/1181993.html
7. AirDisaster.Com list of Cockpit Voice Recorder transcripts. Cached at www.aldeilis.net/english/fake/474
8 Transcript of the CVR from the crash of flight American 1420, at http://www.airdisaster.com/cvr/aa1420tr.shtml
10 Released CVR recordings from aircraft crashes are available at http://www.airdisaster.com/cvr/cvrwav.shtml