Wed, May 23, 2012
Safety Panel Would Not Prevent The Race’s Return
Recommendations from a panel of safety experts are not about to prevent the Reno Air Races from continuing as scheduled this September. Some of the changes have already been implemented, including appointing a safety director with the authority to stop the race due to a safety concern.
Four or five of the recommendations are similar to the NTSB's recommendations ideas, they said, including developing formal protocols to ensure the engineering integrity of planes that have been modified for the races. The impetus for this has been the accident last fall in which Jimmy Leeward's modified World War II-era P-51 Mustang that went down into the box seats in front of the grandstand, killing Leeward and 10 spectators, and injuring more than 70 others last September.
ABC News is reporting that the Reno Air Racing Association announced the appointment of the panel in January to provide a review of the crash and the event's safety independent of the one being conducted by the NTSB, which may or may not complete its formal probe before this year's championships begin Sept. 12. The association's event at Reno Stead Airport is the only event of its kind, where planes fly wing-tip-to-wing-tip around an oval, aerial pylon track, sometimes just 50 feet off the ground and at speeds that can top 500 mph.
Last week, the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority's board of trustees voted unanimously to renew the necessary special use permit for at least another year as long as organizers follow all federal safety rules and secure $100 million in insurance. Organizers said they expect to secure the insurance this week.
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