ATR Crash Probe Homes In on Fuel

 - October 2, 2006, 11:17 AM

Italian authorities strongly suspect that fuel starvation or contamination caused the crash of a Tunisian ATR 72 off the northern coast of Sicily on August 6, and have placed under investigation the chief pilot, a fuel depot manager and the driver of the tanker truck that fueled the airplane in Bari, Italy. The accident claimed 16 of the 39 occupants. Less than an hour after leaving Bari on a charter flight to Djerba, Tunisia, the ATR 72-200, operated by Tunisair regional subsidiary Tuninter, lost power on one of its Pratt & Whitney Canada PW124 turboprops. Minutes later the second engine quit, forcing the pilots to ditch into the Tyrrhenian Sea, 14 nm northeast of Palermo. Italian Coast Guard personnel quickly arrived at the scene and rescued 23 survivors.