The general aviation community is reacting to a USA Today investigation that looked into plane crash investigations.
The story “Unfit for Flight” claims people have died because aircraft manufacturers and investigators aren’t doing their jobs. The story claims pilots took unfair blame when investigators should be blaming mechanical and manufacturer defects.
“It’s the most absurd piece of journalism I’ve ever read in my life,” says flight instructor Dave Dewhirst with Wichita’s Sabris Corporation.
Eyewitness News reached out to others in the private aviation community who agree.
The report by reporter Tom Frank with USA Today claims the NTSB neglects to look at aircraft defects in its investigations.
“45,000 people have been killed it's an instance of manufacturers and investigators not doing their job,” Frank told CBS News.
The NTSB points to pilot error about 86% of the time.
“There all sorts of people who have a hand in the quality of the aircraft, the way it's maintained and way it flies. It's like the person who missed the field goal at the end of the game. Did he lose the game or did they lose the game because they missed five touchdowns earlier in the game?” Frank says in his interview with CBS.
Local and national general aviation groups disagree with the report.
“The article is correct in about 85 percent of accidents in general aviation are pilot error. It doesn't mean there's something wrong with the airplane. It means there's something inherently wrong with the pilots” says Dewhirst.
Others agree including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association which calls the article “extremely flawed.”
Textron Aviation's CEO sent a memo to employees saying the company “disputes allegations and claims suggesting that our products are not safe…” and “…it was clear the reporter had an agenda and that our comments and cooperation would not change his approach and desire to ignite emotion within the public.”
The article points out the difference between what the NTSB found and what juries have found in court.
The NTSB tells Eyewitness News that it’s a disservice to compare the two. It says NTSB investigations, unlike the judicial system, do not assign blame or determine liability.