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Mon, Jul 23, 2007

NTSB Says Crossfield Was Not Warned Of Thunderstorms In Fatal Crash

NTSB Releases Investigative Report On April 2007 Accident

Although the probable cause report has not yet been issued by the NTSB, the Washington Post reports that test pilot legend Scott Crossfield was not warned by air traffic controllers he was heading into a severe thunderstorm when his single-engine Cessna 210 went down in Georgia April 14, 2006, killing the 84-year old who once held the moniker "fastest man alive."

As ANN reported, the legendary test pilot and engineer was found in the wrecked plane.

The news comes from an NTSB investigative report released Saturday that said Crossfield flew into the storm about 10:40 am above mountains in northeast Georgia on his way to Manassas Regional Airport.

"The pilot was not provided any severe weather advisories nor was he advised of the radar-depicted weather displayed" on a controller's terminal, the report said.

The weather is believed to have caused the plane to crash, according to the report.

Crossfield told controllers moments before his plane broke apart that "I'd like to deviate south for weather," the report said. His plane was found in two pieces a mile apart near Ludville, GA. He was the only person onboard the plane.

NTSB investigators were unable to uncover priority tasks, such as keeping aircraft at safe distances from each other, that would have precluded the controller from warning Crossfield about the storms. The controller was not identified.

"By not issuing weather reports to the pilot, the controller violated" Federal Aviation Administration rules, the report said.

The NTSB report did not reach a conclusion about what caused the crash; the five-member board will vote on the probable cause of the crash in the next few months, NTSB officials said.

The agency issued a "safety alert" to pilots in October warning about poor weather briefings from controllers. While it cited the Crossfield crash as an example of the problem, the agency also told pilots that "weather avoidance is primarily your responsibility."

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown did not comment on the crash because it is still considered under investigation. She did say, however, the FAA launched an effort to improve weather briefings to pilots in August 2005 after several crashes highlighted the need for improved communication of storm information.

The FAA was enhancing training and other procedures when the Crossfield crash occurred. Officials believe the "weather briefings are significantly better than they were a couple of years ago," said Brown.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov, www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/news/Biographies/Pilots/bd-dfrc-p021.html

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