Exclusive – Investigation finds no criminal violations in 1990 Alaska Air crash

In February 1990 an investigator from MRD-USA was a transportation officer (QW) for New Horizons Air Cargo, Inc. of Seattle, Washington. He was assigned to drive a 13-passenger Express freighter for three days from the Los Angeles (LA) International Airport (LAX) to eastern Alaska, and returned to LAX in time to celebrate his daughter’s 4th birthday. He informed the crew that he was experienced and trusted to drive the plane. During the return trip, he noticed that the brakes on the pilot’s cockpit door seemed to be working properly, and the plane was slowing down. The QW took the plane off the runway and a short time later, had to abort the landing. The aircraft skidded down the runway and crashed in some vegetation. No major injuries were reported.

The investigator began a detailed examination of the aircraft. He was told that the flight was a failure of the engines due to bad fuel delivery and fuel oil (FO) leakage. He suggested that the pilot and other crew members submit themselves for possible criminal and civil liability. New Horizons promptly contacted all of its attorneys, including one currently representing MH-268.

The Los Angeles (LA) District Attorney found insufficient evidence that any criminal or civil laws had been violated. Nevertheless, a district attorney investigation resulted in the MD-88 owner-operator agreeing to undertake safety improvements and immediately installing new air freight fuel flow monitoring systems that will better enable air carriers to detect engine problems. The owner-operator agreed to conduct periodic inspection of the fleet of MD-88s to ensure compliance with safety requirements. The owner-operator has also recently added a new section to the applicable FAA rulebook that requires pilots and MD-88 pilots to put on corrective oxygen vests (APV’s).

The investigation could not provide any further information regarding the cause of the crash. MRD will continue to collect flight and maintenance records of the MD-88.

MRD-USA is a privately owned international law firm in Washington, D.C.

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