Air traffic controllers were bidding a ValuJet aircraft goodbye six minutes after takeoff when the pilot of the doomed Flight 592 said, "We're losing everything."
As the crew realized electrical problems were killing cockpit equipment, the cockpit voice recorder picked up the sounds of terrified passengers, a transcript released Monday shows."Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!" a woman shouted.
By then, the decision had been made to try to return to Miami.
The chilling sounds of panicking passengers are heard on three segments of the eight-minute recording, which ends with the sounds of rushing air, perhaps from an open cockpit window venting smoke.
The transcript was released Monday morning before the opening of a National Transportation Safety Board hearing into the Everglades crash that killed all 110 people aboard May 11.
More than 150 oxygen generating canisters carried in the DC-9's cargo hold are suspected of igniting the fire.
Another report issued Monday disclosed a stock clerk with SabreTech, ValuJet's Miami maintenance company, didn't know what oxygen generators were but weighed five boxes of them and labeled them for shipment to ValuJet's headquarters in Atlanta.
The canisters had been at the SabreTech maintenance facility for two weeks to two months, and some had activated while in storage. SabreTech got them ready for shipment to clean up their base for an inspection.
Shipping caps are supposed to be installed on the canisters to prevent them from activating by accident, but none were requested by mechanics, the documents showed.
A forklift driver who loaded the boxes of canisters and three aircraft tires onto a truck for delivery to ValuJet said they could go on Flight 592 or the next one. They made the first flight.
After years of resistance, the Federal Aviation Administration last week accepted a recommendation for fire detectors and extinguishers in cargo compartments of 2,800 older aircraft.
The NTSB's recommendation for cargo compartment fire detectors and extinguishers came after an injury-free cargo fire in 1988.