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Test Plane Tries to Simulate Flight Path of Brown’s Plane

May 3, 1996

DUBROVNIK, Croatia (AP) _ A test plane flew over Dubrovnik’s airport Friday simulating the approach of Ron Brown’s jet in an attempt to pinpoint the cause of the crash that killed the commerce secretary and 34 others.

The chief Croatian investigator into the crash said human error _ not the Dubrovnik airport’s navigation system _ caused the accident, but his remarks appeared aimed at answering Croatian media criticism of the airport’s equipment.

U.S. investigators, leading the probe into what caused the plane to veer off its landing path and hit a hill near the airport on April 3, said preliminary results would not be known before the end of May.

A U.S. Federal Aviation Administration CT43 aircraft flew a test flight along the route of Brown’s plane to check out the functioning of ground equipment, U.S. Army spokesman Maj. Bob Williams said.

Williams, speaking from U.S. Air Force European headquarters at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, said the test aircraft and its instruments were virtually identical to those of the modified Boeing 737-200 carrying Brown.

A similar test of the Dubrovnik navigation equipment conducted a week after the accident showed no problems with the ground equipment, Williams said.

The test plane flew above Dubrovnik’s airport in circles for about two hours, making two attempts to touch down before actually landing to simulate the procedure followed by the pilot of Brown’s plane, explained Capt. Michael Paoli, a spokesman for the U.S. investigation in Dubrovnik.

The weather was rainy, as it had been when Brown’s plane crashed.

Miljenko Radic, the head of the Croatian civil aviation inspection agency, said it was already clear the accident was not caused by the airport’s navigation system.

Some Croatian media have criticized the lack of a sophisticated computer-based landing equipment in Dubrovnik.

``What has been confirmed positively is that no single service of the Dubrovnik airport had caused interruption (of contact) with the aircraft,″ Radic said in comments carried by Croatia’s HINA news agency.

``It has been confirmed it was not ... sabotage ... and the accident was (caused by) a human error,″ Radic said. He did not elaborate.

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