AN INFLUENTIAL former US Federal Aviation Administration safety chief has radically challenged the National Transportation Safety Board's controversial verdict on the crash of a Simmons/American Eagle ATR 72 near Roselawn, Indiana, on 31 October 1994.

Anthony Broderick, who resigned as the US Federal Aviation Administration's associate administrator for regulation and certification in the wake of the ValuJet crash, asserts that neither the manufacturer nor the US and French aviation authorities are to blame.

Broderick says that the NTSB has produced no evidence to back its assertion that ATR and France's Directorate General for Civil Aviation (DGAC) withheld technical data which might have been used to prevent the accident (Flight International, 24-30 July, P20).

The sudden and unexpected aileron hinge-moment reversal, which occurred after a ridge of ice accreted beyond the aircraft's de-icing boots and caused loss of control, could not have been foreseen by ATR and the DGAC, concludes Broderick.

The NTSB report says that ATR and the DGAC had failed to disclose all the information available about known icing effects and lessons learned from previous incidents. The FAA is also cited for inadequate safety oversight of the ATR 72.

Broderick says that he knows of no data, which could be described as evidence of a "tell-tale precursor" to the accident. He adds that, for around a decade, the DGAC and the US authorities "-were intimately involved" in analysing data from ATR 42 and ATR 72 accidents and incidents, during which time no specific recommendations emerged from the NTSB.

The NTSB's report also seriously challenges the effectiveness of the bilateral US/European certification, but Broderick argues that ATR is far from alone in winning certification in this way.

See Newsmakers, P28.

Source: Flight International