NTSB Cites Mechanic's Error In Charlotte Crash

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A combination of an overweight condition, aft center of gravity and improperly set elevator control cables are to blame for the crash of a US Airways Express Air Midwest Flight 5481. This was the official probable cause reached by the NTSB at its recent public meeting on May 20-21. You may remember AVweb's initial coverage of the Beech 1900D, which crashed at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport on Jan. 8. Investigators determined that while the weight-and-balance issues were factors, they think the turboprop might have made the flight to the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport in South Carolina anyway had it not been for a mechanic's mistake two nights before the deadly crash. Investigators determined that when the elevator cables' tension were set, the control column was set too far forward, meaning the control column could be pushed forward only a slight distance before hitting its stops. Officials revealed in their report that a trainee mechanic admitted skipping several steps in the maintenance manual detailing cable tension adjustments, as he felt they were unnecessary. Initial reports that the plane might be overweight prompted the FAA to order a survey of average passenger weights, discovering that passengers today weigh an average of almost 21 pounds more than in 1995 at the time of the last survey, and they are carrying heavier luggage. As a result the agency has ordered an increase in the average weights used in calculating aircraft weight and balance.