...Third In Five Years

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A similar crash in Georgia in 1999 prompted an Airworthiness Directive (AD) requiring thorough periodic inspections of the wing spars on T-34s. After the AD was issued, several alternative methods of compliance (AMOCs) were approved. After the 2003 crash, the FAA's preliminary report suggested that the aircraft wasn't in compliance with the AD, but FAA preliminary reports can be wrong. The FAA report on Tuesday's crash incorrectly identified the aircraft as a Beechjet (hopefully this has since been corrected) and also says only the pilot was on board. Texas Air Aces spokesman Dave Hollaway told the Houston Chronicle he didn't know if the aircraft was in compliance with the AD. The T-34 AD process has taken a number of twists and turns over the past five years, including the grounding of some aircraft last March, according to the T-34 Association Web site. Another possibly complicating factor in this accident is an unconfirmed report circulating on some Internet sites that the aircraft involved in Tuesday's crash had been fitted with a modified Beech Baron wing spar. Stay tuned.