Sunday, April 15, 2012
Questions Grow in Probe of Air Tragedy
An Air Force plane that crashed, killing all 21 persons on board, had just left a maintenance facility without some scheduled repairs and little more than a paint job. The C-212 spent five months at an Enaer facility and underwent a major check back at its base. Yet the plane never got a bolt replacement the manufacturer recommended, and a crack in the wing and a faulty emergency beacon were never fixed, according to La Tercera. These details emerged after the Air Force released the maintenance records for the C-212, which crashed Sept. 2 as it tried to land on an island with a team of earthquake reconstruction volunteers. A popular TV personality also died in the crash, further heightening public interest in the tragedy. The plane's mechanical problems don't necessarily explain why the C-212 crashed on approach, although the bad beacon might explain why it took so long to find the wreckage. The plane also was overloaded on its final flight, although it's unclear if that could have been a factor in the failed landing, when much of the fuel already had been spent. But the combination of celebrity and the Air Force's waffling in the investigation has the service in a crisis. Already, one general has resigned. The mess also is undermining the Air Force's image as an elite, cutting-edge institution.