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Sun, May 08, 2005

Airline Officially Apologizes For 2003 Crash

21 Lost In Tragedy

Air Midwest Airlines apologized Friday for the Jan 8, 2003 crash of a Beech 1900 commuter plane. The aircraft pitched up and stalled seconds after takeoff, before rolling left and crashing into a maintenance hanger at the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport.

"We are truly sorry, and regret and apologize to everyone affected by this tragic event," said Greg Stephens, president of Air Midwest, at a memorial service where the plane went down, according to the AP.

He also said that the airline and Vertex Aerospace acknowledged the problems that contributed to the crash. The accident killed two crewmembers and 19 passengers and injured one person on the ground.

Doug and Tereasa Shepherd demanded the apology before settling their lawsuit against the companies. Their daughter, 18-year-old college student Christiana Shepard, was killed in the crash.

"The loss of a child, sibling, spouse or parent is devastating to any family; all that can be done to avoid such loss should and must be done," the couple said in a statement. "The bottom line must always be people, not profit."

The National Transportation Safety Board determined the probable cause of the accident was the airplane's loss of pitch control during take-off resulting from the incorrect rigging of the elevator system along with a center of gravity substantially aft of the certified limit.

Contributing to the cause of the accident were Air Midwest's lack of oversight of the maintenance work being performed at the maintenance station; Air Midwest's maintenance procedures and documentation; Air Midwest's weight and balance program at the time of the accident.

Also blamed was the Raytheon Aerospace quality assurance inspector's failure to detect the incorrect rigging of the elevator control system; the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) average weight assumptions in its weight and balance program guidance at the time of the accident; and the FAA's lack of oversight of Air Midwest's maintenance program and its weight and balance program.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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