FSS Shares Blame In Closed Runway Accident

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The NTSB says Flight Services is partly to blame for the surprise the two occupants of Cessna 310 got when they landed at Lake Placid, N.Y. last Sept. 9. Although the pilot got an FSS briefing while en route from Iowa, the briefer didn't tell him that a runway was closed for construction. On final for the closed runway, the pilot was able to activate the runway lights with his radio and didn't notice the unlit X at the approach end, the cones or the flashing markers at the middle. The plane ran over several foot-deep gaps in the runway surface during the landing roll and the gear was ripped off but the pilot and his passenger weren't hurt.

Although the pilot apparently did everything correctly, pilot responsibility is just that and the NTSB puts the blame mainly on him for the accident but it does note the FSS briefing as a contributing factor and lists the probable cause as "the pilot's failure to observe the ongoing construction to the closed runway while landing. Contributing to the accident was flight service's failure to brief the pilot of the closed runway." The National Air Traffic Controllers Association suggests the mishap is a result of the privatization of the flight service station system which has "gutted the staffing and service while putting business ahead of safety."