Notebook: Agency knew about plane flaw but didn't tell
At the time, the FAA often didn’t listen to the National Transportation Safety Board.
In the 25 years between the safety board's creation by Congress and the South Dakota plane’s crash, the National Transportation Safety Board made 2,845 safety recommendations. The FAA agreed on only 82.5 percent of them.
Ignoring the MU-2B-60 recommendation was senseless, deadly and truly tragic. The pilots allowed to handle the planes were professionals in the highest sense.
Not telling them to have the prop hubs checked for cracks was criminal. Their government knowingly let them put their lives and their passengers’ lives at risk.
The FAA decided, nine days after the South Dakota plane crashed and burned and killed all eight men aboard, that inspections should be done.
That directive covered 136 of the MU-2B-60 planes in service. Those inspections detected another cracked hub. The FAA then expanded the inspections to cover 118 other MU-2B aircraft.
In the 20 years since the crash, people who knew Ron Becker and David Hansen have told me the two pilots never would have flown the state plane in its condition at that time, if they had known about the risk of a cracked hub.
They had another obstacle on that fatal day.
When the “Mayday” call went out, with a request for the location of the nearest airport, a Chicago air traffic controller responded.
“Dubuque airport is off to your two o’clock and 25 miles. You can land there,” the controller said.