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News Release

Release #04.006
February 26, 2004

ALPA Endorses NTSB Findings in Air Midwest Accident

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) applauds the findings of the National Transportation Safety Board regarding the Air Midwest Flight 5481 accident. The NTSB formally adopted its findings at the sunshine meeting in Washington D.C. today.

“The NTSB has correctly identified the significant issues relating to this accident,” said Capt. Kevin Wilson, Safety Chairman for pilots at Mesa Air Group, which owns and operates Air Midwest. “We applaud the Board for its diligence and professionalism in uncovering the causal factors of this tragedy.”

Taken together, Board’s recommendations constitute an exhaustive overhaul of Part 121 air carrier maintenance programs, including Air Midwest’s. Specific recommendations included greater attention by FAA inspectors to overseeing the carrier’s maintenance program, as well as significant revisions to FAA’s and carriers’ weight and balance programs. These issues are similar in many respects to issues identified in several recent accidents. Clearly, the time is right for government and industry to move forward together to address these issues.

“What is critical is to make sure these mistakes do not happen again – at any carrier,” commented Capt. Terry McVenes, ALPA’s Executive Air Safety Vice Chairman. “We urge all the parties identified in the report to adopt the changes the Board has recommended.”

ALPA played a key role in the NTSB’s investigation. The Board’s conclusions and recommendations included many of the issues raised by ALPA’s accident investigation team, and clearly confirmed that the Flight 5481 pilots did their jobs correctly.

“The probable cause of this accident was the airplane’s loss of pitch control during takeoff,” the Board noted. “The loss of pitch control resulted from the incorrect rigging of the elevator control system compounded by the airplane’s aft center of gravity”.

According to the NTSB report, the following contributed to the January 2003 accident: 

 ALPA represents 62,000 airline pilots at 42 airlines in the U.S. and Canada.  Its Web site is

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ALPA CONTACT: Terry McVenes/Pete Janhunen (571) 243-5300