New NTSB documents reveal details of Carnahan crash

Monday, October 15, 2001

WASHINGTON -- Federal investigators revealed new details Friday about the airplane crash that killed Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan, delving into his son Randy's skills as a pilot and the condition of an airplane part their family blames for the tragedy.

However, there is no analysis or statement of the accident's cause in the 1,206 pages of information from the National Transportation Safety Board.

The first of three reports expected from NTSB, the document was issued four days before the anniversary of the crash, which killed all three men aboard the plane; the Democratic governor, his son and pilot, Randy, and the governor's aide Chris Sifford.

Randy Carnahan held a commercial pilot certificate with multiengine land and instrument ratings, investigators said, yet his actual experience practicing and flying under "partial panel" conditions -- without use of instruments -- is unknown.

Randy Carnahan was struggling with failed instruments and bad weather after leaving St. Louis that night, according to a transcript of audio tapes of his conversation with air traffic controllers released in February. The security officer who drove Randy Carnahan to the airport that night told investigators that the pilot was questioned about the weather and replied that skies were clearer at their New Madrid destination.

Cessna Aircraft Co. and Parker Hannifin Corp., a parts manufacturer, claim Randy Carnahan was not properly trained for flying in stormy weather.

The victims' families are suing Cessna and Parker Hannifin along with Sigma Tek Inc., another parts manufacturer; and Aeroflite Inc., the company that serviced the plane.

The lawsuits claim the crash was caused by a failed vacuum pump and manifold system.

The instruments are particularly important in stormy conditions.

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