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NTSB Urges Inspection of FAA Offices in Cargo Crash Probe

March 31, 1995

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Federal safety experts investigating a deadly cargo plane crash here recommended on Thursday a review of Federal Aviation Administration operations and management in two cities.

It also urged immediate inspection of the Little Rock-based cargo carrier whose plane crashed in February, killing all three crew members.

The National Transportation Safety Board wrote the FAA suggesting a review of the agency’s Little Rock inspection office, detailing several examples of ``apparent weak surveillance and oversight″ of Air Transport International by the FAA’s principal operations inspector in Little Rock.

The board also said the FAA’s office in Denver, where Air Transport International trains its personnel, should be investigated.

At the FAA’s Little Rock office, manager John Ciasca Jr. said in Friday’s New York Times that he had not read the letter but ``some of the statements probably were misinterpreted during the interview by the NTSB.″

At FAA headquarters in Washington, spokeswoman Drucie Anderson told the Times that the agency has received the letter and takes the board’s recommendations very seriously.

Although the investigation isn’t complete, it has found that human error was a contributing factor in the crash of the plane, which had three of four engines in working order, the NTSB said.

The board recommended that when an Air Transport jet must be flown with only three engines, it be done by a crew specifically trained in three-engine flying procedures.

The NTSB also said it was concerned that nearly half the carrier’s 64 flight captains have been hired since 1993, and 75 of the company’s 80 first officers and 46 of 73 flight engineers have been hired since 1993.

David Clark, Air Transport’s president, did not immediately return telephone messages seeking comment Thursday.

The DC-8 cargo plane aborted its first takeoff on Feb. 8. On the second, it scraped its tail, plunged nose-first into the ground and exploded. Bound for Massachusetts for maintenance, it had been cleared to fly on only three engines.

It was the third crash involving an Air Transport cargo plane since 1991. The NTSB attributed the first two to human error.

Update hourly