Bar Harbor Ex-Pilot “Amazed” No More Crashes Like Samantha’s
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ A former pilot for Bar Harbor Airlines said he was ″amazed″ the carrier did not have more crashes like the one that killed 13-year-old goodwill ambassador Samantha Smith, according to documents released Thursday.
Other former pilots said they were pressured by dispatchers not to ground troublesome planes, although some ex-crew members denied the accusations of poor maintenance, according to a report issued by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Samantha, her father, and six other people were killed on Aug. 25 when the Beechcraft Turboprop 99 they were on crashed while approaching the Auburn- Lewiston airport in drizzle and fog.
The Manchester girl gained worldwide fame when she wrote to the Kremlin about world peace and made an extensive trip to the Soviet Union in 1983.
Days after the Aug. 25 crash, the NTSB received an anonymous letter from a former pilot.
″Several allegations were made about the company’s maintenance and management practices,″ the NTSB said of the letter.
The agency interviewed seven former pilots by telephone, including Mark Troiano, who flew for Bar Harbor for nearly six years before leaving the airline less then two months before the crash.
″I’m amazed it didn’t happen more,″ the agency quoted Troiano as saying about the crash.
Doug Fuller, who worked as a captain and first officer for Bar Harbor until last May, cited ″frustration″ with the airline’s maintenance procedures.
Another former pilot, however, called Bar Harbor ″a pretty safe operation.″
Steven Mason, a Bar Harbor official, said Thursday the airline would have no comment on the documents, which offer no conclusions about the cause of the crash. The NTSB has scheduled two days of hearings next week on the accident.