Archive for Thursday, September 28, 2000

Stewart’s plane defective

Cabin pressure system failed, causing golfer’s death

September 28, 2000

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— The Learjet that carried golfer Payne Stewart to his death last October probably after losing cabin pressure had previous problems with its cabin pressure system, maintenance logs show.

On Feb. 9, 1998, a pilot reported that the plane sometimes would not hold cabin pressure at low altitude, and in July 1999, mechanics again were asked to check the system, according to maintenance reports released Wednesday by the National Transportation Safety Board. The logs also showed that a valve had to be replaced following inflight loss of cabin pressure on June 28, 1989.

The plane Stewart was on departed Orlando, Fla., on Oct. 25, for Dallas. Radio contact was lost with the plane as it passed north of Gainesville, Fla.

The flight continued on autopilot until it crashed near Aberdeen, S.D. There has been speculation that the cabin pressure system failed.

The new report showed no conversation on the plane's cockpit voice recorder which, though heavily damaged in the crash, saved the final 30 minutes of sound.

That included an altitude warning alarm, which stopped just before the crash as the plane descended, and a high speed alarm which continued until the end of the tape. The cabin altitude warning alarm sounds when pressure drops below the 10,000 foot level.

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