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18-Death Air Crash in Alaska Blamed on Poor Cargo Loading

Associated Press

The flight crew’s inadequate supervision of cargo loading caused last year’s crash of a Ryan Air Service commuter plane in Alaska in which 18 people died, the National Transportation Safety Board ruled Tuesday.

The 2,100 pounds of cargo was loaded too far to the aircraft’s rear, causing the pilot to lose control when he attempted to land the twin-engine turboprop Beech 1900-C at the airport at Homer on Nov. 23, 1987, the board concluded.

“The real responsibility rested with the crew, which is responsible for supervising the loading of the aircraft,” James L. Kolstad, the acting safety board chairman, said. “For reasons I guess we’ll never know, they failed in that function.”

The board’s report said that the crew members, who were killed, “employed improper procedures to determine the airplane’s weight and balance.”

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The plane had a crew of two and 19 passengers--many of them hunters.

Investigators had believed that ice on the plane may have caused the crash, but the board said that the ice “did not cause but may have exacerbated the loss of control.”


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