NTSB issues report in Wellstone crash

Nov. 18, 2003 at 6:29 PM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- The National Transportation Safety Board blamed pilot error Tuesday for last year's airplane crash that killed Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., and seven others.

The board said the probable cause of the crash of the Beechcraft King Air 100 airplane was the "flight crew's failure to maintain adequate airspeed, which led to an aerodynamic stall from which they did not recover."

The chartered airplane was on a flight from St. Paul to Eveleth, Va., when it crashed Oct. 25, 2002, on approach to the Eveleth Municipal Airport. The plane was destroyed and there were no survivors.

NTSB Chairman Ellen Engleman, in a statement, said: "This tragic accident that took the lives of a respected U.S. Senator, members of his family, staff, and the flight crew, shocked us all. It sadly and starkly points out the need for more aggressive action to improve safety in the on-demand charter industry."

The board concluded the flight crew failed to maintain appropriate course and speed for the approach and did not properly configure the airplane at the start of the approach.

The NTSB also found the owner of the aircraft, Aviation Charter Inc., failed, among other things, to provide adequate stall recovery instruction.

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