Plane Said Lacked Enhanced Warning
October 22, 2004 12:08 PM EDT
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A commuter plane that crashed while
approaching an airport this
combed through the wreckage of a commuter
plane near Kirksville (Mo.) Regional Airport
on Wednesday. The twin-engine turboprop
plane crashed Tuesday night (19 Oct 04)
week lacked an updated
system that warns pilots who fly too low, equipment that
will be required next year, investigators said.
Instead, the Corporate Airlines twin-engine turboprop
had an earlier version of the terrain warning system
that met current regulations, National Transportation
Safety Board spokesman Keith Holloway said.
The 19-seat Jetstream 32 was en route from St. Louis
to Kirksville Regional Airport in north-eastern Missouri
when it crashed Tuesday, killing 13 of the 15 people
aboard. It was the worst civilian air crash in the
United States since 21 people were killed Jan. 8, 2003,
in a crash in Charlotte, N.C.
The role of the cockpit warning system was "just one
of many aspects of the investigation," Holloway said
Information from the plane's voice and data recorders
and traffic control tapes suggest the plane's approach
to the airport was routine, said Carol Carmody, who is
leading the team of NTSB investigators.
The data show
the plane descending steadily, then climbing slightly in
the last four seconds, she said. Investigators
were still determining exactly how far above the ground
the plane was at that point.
flight was the
sixth of the day for the crew, who had been on duty
nearly 15 hours that day, within FAA-approved limits,
The Federal Aviation Administration ordered the
terrain-warning system installed by next March 29 in
commercial planes with at least six seats. It displays
the surrounding area on a cockpit screen. If the plane
flies dangerously near the ground or an obstacle, such
as a building, a computer-generated voice calls out a
The older system shuts off automatically during
A spokesman for Smyrna, Tenn.-based Corporate
Airlines, which operated the flight under contract with
American Airlines' commuter service, said Friday the new
system had been installed in two of the 11 planes in
"They were complying with the regulations in place.
It's just sad that they hadn't gotten around to doing
it," said John David, deputy chairman of the National
Safety Committee for American Airline's pilots union.
Carmody said the captain can be heard on the flight
recording spotting the airport. "Thirteen seconds later
there was the sound of an impact on the recording, and
three seconds later the recording ended," she said.
"There was no change in direction, speed or heading.
There was no emergency call from the aircraft," she
She declined to speculate on whether the weather may
have played a role in the crash. Skies were overcast and
misting, with thunderstorms in the area.
The aircraft's maintenance records over the last 30
days were "very unremarkable," she said.
The two survivors, Dr. John Krogh, 69, and his
assistant, Wendy Bonham, 44, remained hospitalized.
Carmody called their survival "remarkable."
Most of the passengers were heading to a medical
conference in Kirksville.
On the Net: