Strict Military Rules Might Have Prevented U.S. Military Plane Crash
Apr. 29, 1996
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The jetliner crash that killed Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and 34 others in Croatia earlier this month might have been avoided if military rules and procedures had been followed, according to published reports.
The pilot and copilot had never seen the airport in Dubrovnik before but nevertheless attempted to land in heavy clouds, The New York Times reported on Sunday. It said even Croatia Airlines will not let its own crews land in Dubrovnik if both the pilot and copilot have never done it before. And the Air Force told pilots based in the United States never to land there in anything but clear weather, The Times said.
USA Today said today that the flight broke Air Force rules by trying to land at a foreign airport that had not been surveyed for safety.
Published charts say a pilot must be able to see the runway within 2 miles of and 1,631 feet above the airport and if that is not possible, the landing should be aborted, the newspaper said.
A military log obtained by The Associated Press detailed a frustrating string of false reports about the location of the plane after it crashed on April 3. A storm, misinformation and Croatian roadblocks kept the U.S. military from reaching the scene for half a day.
By the time they arrived, Croatian police had taken control of the crash site and a police roadblock kept the U.S. commander waiting for an hour. The plane, a military version of the Boeing 737, was more than a mile off course when it slammed into the mountainside, killing all aboard.
The plane did not have a flight data recorder that would have helped investigators determine exactly what went wrong. In the wake of the crash, Defense Secretary William Perry has ordered military services to install updated navigation instruments and flight recorders on all their passenger jets.