Crew on plane that crashed in Missouri was on duty 14 hours, 41 minutes, authorities say

Friday, October 22nd 2004, 6:56 am
By: News On 6

KIRKSVILLE, Mo. (AP) _ The crew of a commuter plane that crashed, killing 13, had been on duty nearly 15 hours that day, a federal investigator said.

Carol Carmody, who heads the National Transportation Safety Board team investigating the Corporate Airlines crash Tuesday night, said the two crew members had been on duty for 14 hours and 41 minutes, which is within Federal Aviation Administration regulations. The St. Louis to Kirksville flight was the crew's sixth for the day, she said Thursday.

The pilot, Capt. Kim Sasse, and First Officer Jonathan Palmer, both died in the crash, along with 11 of their 13 passengers on the 19-seat, twin-engine turboprop.

Investigators putting together information from the plane's voice and data recorders and traffic control tapes said all indications were that the approach to the Kirksville airport, about 220 miles northwest of St. Louis, was routine.

``The crew activated the runway lights at the airport, and all the lights were operational,'' Carmody said. ``After several seconds of discussion, the captain said, 'Field in sight.' Thirteen seconds later there was the sound of an impact on the recording, and three seconds later the recording ended.''

``It was a completely routine approach to the runaway,'' she said. ``There was no change in direction, speed or heading. There was no emergency call from the aircraft.''

The NTSB member said the flight data recorder showed the plane was traveling at a normal approach speed of 120 knots (around 140 mph) as it neared the airport. She said its rate of descent was constant before the data recording ended, with the plane climbing slightly in the last four seconds.

``At this point, we don't know the exact terrain of the ground, so we don't know precisely how far above the ground the plane was,'' she said.

Carmody said a review of maintenance records on the aircraft over the last 30 days was ``very unremarkable.''

She would not speculate on what role, if any, the weather may have played in the crash. Skies were overcast and misting, with some thunderstorms in the area, at the time.

The two survivors, Dr. John Krogh, 69, of Wallsburgh, Utah, and his assistant, Wendy Bonham, 44, of Spanish Fork, Utah, remained hospitalized at Kirksville. Carmody said it was ``remarkable'' that the two survived the crash.