The National Transportation Safety Board today released the following updated information on its investigation of the crash of a Raytheon (Beech) King Air A100 airplane (N41BE) carrying Senator Paul Wellstone and seven others, on October 25, 2002, at Eveleth, Minnesota. The aircraft was destroyed by impact forces and fire; there were no survivors.
· Teardowns of the two engines at Pratt and Whitney of Canada facilities near Montreal and the two propellers at Hartzell company facilities in Ohio were conducted under NTSB supervision. Both the engines and propellers appear to have been operating at time of impact. No evidence of pre-impact engine or propeller failure was found.
· The pilot received two flight service weather briefings prior to the flight.
· Specialists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, are assisting the NTSB weather group in its efforts to more accurately define the icing conditions that existed along the accident flight’s route.
· Investigators have completed documenting the crew’s activities in the 72-hour period before the accident flight. Interviews with the Captain’s wife and the First Officer’s fiancée have been conducted. Employment, pilot and medical records are still being reviewed.
· Toxicological test reports on the Captain and First Officer provided by the FAA’s Civil Aeronautical Medical Institute in Oklahoma City indicate no evidence of alcohol or drugs of abuse.
· The First Officer’s voice is heard on nearly all radio transmissions with Air Traffic Control. Typically, the pilot working the radio is not the flying pilot.
· Next week, investigators are scheduled to begin aircraft performance evaluations using a flight simulator at a Flight Safety International facility in Wichita, Kansas. The simulator will provide an opportunity to study the approach profile of the accident flight. Additional simulations will be conducted to assess pilot activities and workload during the approach under existing visibility and cloud conditions.
· To date, a review of aircraft records has revealed no outstanding maintenance items.
· Tests have been conducted to evaluate the accuracy of the VOR/DME approach to runway 27 at Eveleth. The tests indicate that the signal accuracy of the VOR/DME is suitable for en route flight but was found slightly out of tolerance for conducting an instrument approach.
· All the working groups that were established to look at various aspects of the accident continue with their respective tasks. Each NTSB group chairman will prepare a factual report that will become available when the Safety Board opens the public docket on the investigation.