Charlotte Investigation Update
As the NTSB continues its investigation of the January 8 crash in Charlotte, N.C., of a US Airways Express Raytheon 1900D operated by Air Midwest that killed all 21 aboard, investigators are analyzing documents and data related to the aircraft's weight and balance. Officials are focusing on the possibility that a heavy takeoff weight and improper, potentially tail-heavy weight distribution contributed to the crash. Beyond baggage distribution, investigators are also looking at the weight of passengers.
...With Standard Pax Weight...
Experts have raised questions about whether standard industry methods used to measure passenger weight are realistic, considering that the average weights used for passengers don't seem to correlate well with national weight trends. Though an issue of slighter proportions for the average wide-body (airliner), smaller commuter aircraft have a slimmer margin of error when it comes to matters of mass. The accident aircraft in Charlotte departed without an empty seat. [more] Airlines use average weights for passengers depending on the time of year (i.e., heavier weights are used in winter to compensate for jackets coats, etc.). But while those standard measurements have not changed much, the flying public seems to be growing around the waistline -- people are more plump than they used to be.
...And A Faulty Elevator Still Considered
Weight issues aside, accident investigators are still examining the possibility that a malfunctioning elevator was a major factor in the crash. Initial inspections of other 1900Ds at Air Midwest revealed no fleet-wide flaws in these systems. However, because the flight data recorder indicated erratic elevator movements aboard the accident aircraft, the possibility a flaw specific to the accident aircraft is still being examined.