The NTSB has confirmed talk that the Board is “about to release” a report modifying some of its findings in the October 1994 crash of an American Eagle ATR 72 near Roselawn, Ind. But a Board spokesman declined to confirm details of further speculation that the changes absolve the French aircraft manufacturer Avions de Transport Regional (ATR) and French aviation authorities of a share of blame for the crash which killed all 68 people on board.
The twin turboprop was en route to Chicago O’Hare International Airport and had been placed in a holding pattern when the accident occurred.
The original 318-page report, released in mid-1996, attributed the accident to icing. It blamed ATR for failing to develop airplane modifications to the de-icing boot design and DGAC (the French equivalent of the FAA) for failing to require the manufacturer to take additional corrective actions.
French aviation authorities and ATR responded to the report by petitioning NTSB to reconsider its findings. DGAC blamed the crew for keeping the ATR in a prolonged holding pattern during which it was exposed to freezing rain and freezing drizzle conditions for more than 20 min. The Bureau Enquêtes-Accidents (BEA, France’s equivalent of the NTSB) said the U.S. agency’s report was “unbalanced and ignores critical causal factors, such as crew behavior, that significantly contributed to the accident.” For its part, ATR rejected the charge that it failed to disclose information about the effects of freezing rain and freezing drizzle on the aircraft’s performance, saying, “All such information known by ATR was in fact passed on.”
As a result of the appeals, said the NTSB spokesman, the Board is “in the final stages of responding to a petition for reconsideration” of its final report.
A spokesman for ATR said the company would not speculate on the contents of the NTSB response, but added that the company would welcome a modification favoring ATR’s appeal.