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U.S. Safety Warnings on Airline Involved in Fatal Accident Cited

Associated Press

Government inspectors issued warnings about the safety of Galaxy Airlines a year before a Galaxy plane crashed on takeoff in Reno, killing 70 people, it was reported Saturday.

The Minneapolis Star and Tribune said warnings were issued after one of the charter airline’s crews nearly flew unaware into a severe thunderstorm in November, 1983.

In another instance, a Federal Aviation Administration inspector filed two reports in January, 1984, after finding an aircraft maintenance log to be unsatisfactory. The inspector said that “surveillance on this carrier will be increased,” the newspaper reported.

The November, 1983, incident occurred because of faulty radar and outdated weather information, according to the newspaper report, which was based on documents obtained from the FAA.

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The same Lockheed Electra involved in that incident crashed Jan. 21 in Reno, killing all but one of those aboard.

The cause of the accident is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. The FAA approved Galaxy for continued operation after the crash.

FAA Inspector C. David Hobgood, who was aboard the November, 1983, flight, issued a report saying, “Thunderstorm avoidance in flight was nearly non-existent,” and that “judgment and use of radar in this instance were both unsatisfactory . . . Increased surveillance on their operations, I believe, is a must.”

An investigation begun after the incident is being pursued, said FAA spokesman Roger Mayers. He said the probe also concerns two additional incidents with the radar aboard the Electra.

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A Galaxy spokesman, however, disputed the existence of the FAA investigation.

“The issue is dead; the matter is closed,” Byron Ellison, a member of Galaxy’s board of directors, said Friday.


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