Notebook: Agency knew about plane flaw but didn't tell
They could have known they were at a specific risk, if they had been told. And if they had been told, they could have taken steps to address that specific risk.
But they weren’t told what some officials in the federal government knew.
Another Mitsubishi MU-2B, flying as a cargo plane, lost a prop blade in 1991 near Utica, New York.
The National Transportation Safety Board investigated the Utica incident. On Aug. 13, 1992, the NTSB formally recommended that inspections be conducted on prop hubs on MU-2B-60 planes.
The transportation safety board, however, didn’t have the power to order the inspections. That authority rested with the Federal Aviation Administration.
Months passed. Nothing happened.
Finally on Jan. 4, 1993, the FAA’s then-administrator, Thomas Richards, responded to the safety board recommendation. Special inspections weren’t necessary, he told the safety board.
The safety board's then-chairman, Carl Vogt, didn’t accept that answer. He repeated the recommendation for inspections in letters to the FAA again on Jan. 6, 1993, and on March 4, 1993.
That last letter was just six weeks before the South Dakota MU-2B-60 was flying back from a meeting in Cincinnati.
It should be noted that the National Transportation Safety Board gave its recommendation the middle rating in a range of three. The NTSB didn’t rate it as urgent but instead a priority.