Equipment Problems Eyed In Accidents

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Equipment problems are being cited in two high-profile aircraft accidents in the past month. Investigators in Denver say the transponder wasn't working or was shut off in a Piper Cheyenne that collided with a Cessna 172 there last week. Therefore, air traffic controllers, who were providing flight following to both aircraft, could not see the altitude of the Piper. Investigators of the crash of a Beech 1900D at Charlotte, N.C., Jan. 8 say the elevator controls had been adjusted two days earlier and one cable was set 1.8 inches longer than the other (both should have been the same length). Five men died in the Denver accident and six were injured on the ground. A house hit by the Cessna was destroyed by the ensuing explosion. The two planes had both taken off a few minutes before from different airports. Just before the collision, an air traffic controller warned the Cheyenne pilot that the Cessna was about a mile away and directly ahead. In the Charlotte crash, 19 passengers and two crew aboard the US Airways Express flight died after the plane pitched up to more than 50 degrees after takeoff, stalled and dove into a hangar. The investigation has focused on the Beech's pitch controls -- according to the flight data recorder, they were "moving up and down a lot" after the maintenance stop.