Transcribed from The Deseret News, Salt Lake City, UT, June 9, 1971, p. 1:

Crash Stirs Rule Probe

 

DUARTE, CALIF. (UPI) — Visual flight rules for aircraft operations near crowded metropolitan areas may come under close scrutiny because of the weekend air collision near here which killed 50 persons, a federal investigator said Tuesday.

Oscar M. Laurel, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board team investigating Sunday’s collision between an Air West DC9 and a Marine F4 fighter jet said now “may be a good time to take another look” at the regulations.

Laurel’s remark came as rescue workers continued to ferry victims’ bodies by helicopter from the rugged 3,600 foot level of Mt. Bliss to a temporary morgue.

The Air West plane, with 49 persons aboard, was flying through a much used commercial air corridor 40 miles from Los Angeles when the collision occurred. The DC9 was being controlled from a ground radar center while the Marine jet was on a “see and be seen” or visual flight operation.

There was only one survivor, the radar man aboard the military craft who parachuted to safety.

Body of the pilot of the F4 was found in the wreckage and was identified as 1st Lt. James R. Phillips, 28, of Denver, Colo.

The wreckage was strewn over so wide a region that by darkness Tuesday when operations ended only 34 of the victims had been accounted for and taken out of the area.

In Washington, the National Association of Government Employes [sic], which represents some air route traffic controllers, urged the government to finance additional equipment to provide radar separation between planes on instrument flights and those flying under visual rules.

The group said the Duarte collision might have been avoided with added radar.

The flight recorder from the DC9 was recovered near the tail section of the wreckage and flown to Washington. Investigators hope its data will tell them how fast the airliner was flying, its altitude and precise heading.

“If it had everything we hope it has, we should be able to recontruct the entire flight path of the airliner,” said Brad Dunbar, a spokesman for the federal safety team.

At the present time, however, conditions surrounding the collision were still unclear and Dunbar said it may never be possible to determine “who whit who.”

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