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A crewman of Midwest Express Flight 105 calmly radioed...

By
SUSAN KUCZKA

DES PLAINES, Ill. -- A crewman of Midwest Express Flight 105 calmly radioed 'We've got an emergency here' after takeoff in Milwaukee, moments before the plane crashed, killing all 31 aboard, tapes released Wednesday by the Federal Aviation Administration showed.

The tape recording of voice communications between the flight crew and the control tower at Milwaukee's Mitchell Field revealed little else about the cause of the crash Friday. Much of the tape's content was released the night of the crash.

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'We've got an emergency here,' a crew member aboard the flight is heard calmly telling the tower shortly after takeoff. Those were last words from the DC-9.

An unknown person is then heard notifying the tower of a 'crash south of the field.'

The control tower then answers, 'Yeah, we see it.'

At about the same time the crash occurred, the tower also was involved in directing a United Airlines flight for landing.

FAA Air Traffic Division Chief Kenneth Patterson declined to identify either the voices from Flight 105 or the voices from the control tower. He also refused to disclose any information about the investigation into the crash.

The tape did disclose that Flight 105 had been scheduled to depart on a south-southwest runway but asked for permission to take off from a south runway.

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Patterson said such a request was common and may have indicated that the pilot had some concern about the wind direction. Patterson said the pilot probably wanted to take off into the wind.

'It's strictly a pilot preference,' he said.

The plane, bound for Atlanta, climbed to 1,000 feet before the pilot radioed he had an emergency. The DC-9 then did two barrel rolls and nosedived into a wooded area at the south end of the airport.

National Transportation Safety Board officials said the focus of the investigation would be on the plane's right engine, which apparently failed at 1,000 feet, about one minute after takeoff. A final report on the cause of the crash will not be ready for several months, they said.

The engine was a Pratt & Whitney JT8D-7, an earlier version of the JT8D-15 engine blamed for sparking a fire that destroyed a Boeing 737 last month in Manchester, England, killing 55 people.

The DC-9 is designed to fly with only one of its two engines. Investigators have determined two warning indicators -- one for a stall - also sounded before the plane nose-dived.

Pratt & Whitney engines also were involved in plane incidents in California and London recently.

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It was the first fatal commercial crash at Mitchell Field since the facility opened in 1927 and the 19th fatal crash of 1985, aviation's worst year.

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