Wellstone Crash Causes Debates On Backgrounds, Recorders
Oberstar Promotes Recorders For Small Aircraft ...
The crash of Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone's airplane is reason enough the FAA should require cockpit voice and data recorders be installed in smaller commercial aircraft, according to U.S. Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.). Oberstar, the ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told the Associated Press aircraft owners won't spend the money to install safety equipment if it is not a requirement. Oberstar pointed out that the Beechcraft King Air A-100 airplane carrying Wellstone lacked both a cockpit voice recorder and a flight data recorder, which he says will make the investigation into the accident more difficult. The NTSB is still trying to figure out which pilot had control of the airplane when it crashed.
... And Pilot's Background Is Called Into Question
In the absence of anything new in the investigation of the crash, the focus has shifted to the relatively ancient history of pilot Richard Conry's apparently shady dealings in the home-construction business. The Minneapolis / St. Paul Star Tribune reported on Conry's criminal record and discovered he went to a "federal prison camp" for more than a year beginning in 1990 for 14 counts of mail fraud. The scheme resulted in some subcontractors not getting paid for their work on houses Conry built. Conry did his time and was repaying the people he had defrauded. In April of 2001, at Executive Aviation -- where he was presumably hired based on his ability to fly an airplane -- he truthfully answered the question on their application inquiring whether he had had a criminal conviction in the previous five years. However, Rep. James Oberstar, outspoken on aviation safety issues, questioned that ability, based on Conry's history. "It goes to the question of his fitness to fly." And even though Conry filled out the employment application truthfully, Oberstar suggested he should have volunteered the information about the conviction. "It's more than an act of omission, it's a deliberate act of deception," he said.