Crash Probe Focuses On Maintenance

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There had been elevator problems on the previous eight flights of a Mesa Airlines Beech 1900D that crashed on takeoff at Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, killing all 21 aboard. The NTSB said the flight data recorder showed the elevator hadn't worked properly since cables to the elevator tab were adjusted during maintenance the previous Monday. Therefore, the focus of the investigation has shifted to the Raytheon Aerospace LLC maintenance facility in Huntington, W. Va., where the maintenance was performed. Investigators said the aircraft pitched up 52 degrees after takeoff and witnesses said it appeared to stall twice before clipping a US Airways hangar and exploding. The final flight lasted 37 seconds. Pilot Katie Leslie declared an emergency just before the plane crashed. The FAA asked the aircraft owners to check all 43 of its Beech 1900Ds for elevator problems. The inspections on nine aircraft, including three that had been to the same maintenance facility, were done by Friday and no problems had been found. The NTSB has discounted previous reports that the plane was tail-heavy.