U.S. Attorney reopens
investigation into Alaska Airlines crash that killed 88
SEATTLE (AP) — Federal
authorities have reopened a criminal investigation into
the January 2000 crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261, the
airline's parent company disclosed Wednesday.
Alaska Air Group, based
in Seattle, made the disclosure in its annual 10-K financial
report, filed Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange
Officials at the U.S.
Attorney's Office did not immediately return calls seeking
Flight 261 was headed
to San Francisco on Jan. 31, 2000, when it crashed into
the Pacific Ocean off Port Hueneme, Calif., killing all
88 passengers and crew members.
The U.S. Attorney's Office
in San Francisco began investigating maintenance practices
at the company's Oakland, Calif., base after the crash,
but that investigation was put on hold while the National
Transportation Safety Board conducted a federal investigation.
Almost from the beginning,
investigators focused on a lack of grease on the jet's jackscrew,
a tail component that helps move the plane's stabilizer
and sets the angle of flight.
In December, the NTSB
ruled that shoddy maintenance was the reason for a lack
of grease, excessive wear and the eventual failure of the
Following that ruling,
the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco reactivated
its investigation "in order to review it in light of
the final NTSB report," the company said in its SEC
Alaska Airlines spokesman
Jack Walsh declined to comment Wednesday on the reopening
of the inquiry.
The SEC requires companies
to mention legal proceedings that could potentially affect
the company's finances. The company is being sued by families
of the crash victims. Alaska Air Group said it did not expect
the legal proceedings to "materially affect" the
company's financial position.
Flight 261, an MD-80,
had taken off from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, with scheduled
stops in San Francisco and Seattle.
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261 MD-82 Crash
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