You said recently that the NTSB could become more proactive if it investigated incidents, as well as accidents. Please explain.
Air Midwest Flight
When a noticeably tail-heavy Air Midwest Beech 1900D lifted off from Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, N.C., on the morning of January 8, the twin turboprop was carrying the heaviest payload of its seven previous flights since emerging from a D-6 maintenance check two nights before.
An FAA review of maintenance procedures following the August 26 crash of a Colgan Air Beech 1900D near Hyannis, Mass., has found that Raytheon service manuals incorrectly depict the installation of a key part of the airplane’s elevator trim system.
From a humanitarian perspective, regional air transport suffered perhaps its most destructive 24-hour stretch in history last month. Three separate fatal accidents, all unrelated but for the category of aircraft they involved, shook the industry at a time it could least afford the negative reaction. Once rescuers finished counting, the death toll totaled 72 in Turkey, 46 in Peru and 21 in the U.S.
Beech 1900D, Charlotte, N.C., Jan. 8, 2003–At 8:09 a.m. EST the Air Midwest Beech 1900 (N233YV), flight 5481 (d.b.a. US Airways Express), crashed shortly after takeoff from Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (CLT), N.C., killing both crewmembers and all 19 passengers. The aircraft, which was destined for Greenville-Spartanburg (GSP), S.C., was destroyed on impact and in the post-crash fire.
The FAA ordered Part 121 operators of 10- to 19-seat aircraft to perform a sampling of passenger and baggage weights over a three-day period last month to determine if the currently used generic weight allowance of 180 pounds per passenger and 25 pounds per checked bag is still valid.
According to the NTSB, faulty maintenance contributed to the crash of an Air Midwest Beech 1900D seconds after taking off from Charlotte, N.C., on January 8, killing all 21 people aboard. At a hearing last month, the Safety Board said that during routine maintenance two days and several flights before the accident, a contract mechanic improperly retensioned control cables, possibly preventing full deflection of the elevator.
An aviation rulemaking committee (ARC) that includes five representatives from the regional airline industry has submitted the final draft of a proposal to the FAA to revise the nine-year-old guidance for weight-and-balance procedures.
The NTSB issued a scathing indictment of the FAA’s oversight of contract maintenance providers, essentially validating a DOT inspector general’s report that again exposed one of the lesser known practices of the U.S. airline industry. The latest report, made public in late February, again pointed to lax FAA scrutiny of a third-party maintenance contractor as one of the main contributors to the January 2003 crash of Air Midwest Flight 5481.