A spokesman for Colombia's national airline disputes a conclusion by federal safety investigators that the cockpit crew was chiefly responsible for a crash on New York's Long Island last year that took 73 lives.
In a report adopted Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board said the Avianca Airlines plane also got inadequate service from overburdened air traffic controllers before it ran out of fuel and crashed on Jan. 25, 1990."I dissent with the board's finding," Avianca spokesman Saul Pertuz said following the ruling. "Avianca was the unlucky flight that did not get the service it should have."
The NTSB found the crew of Avianca Flight 52 failed to tell air traffic controllers that its fuel had run critically low. The co-pilot had radioed controllers that the plane was running out of fuel and needed "priority" to land but never used the word "emergency," federal investigators said.
As a result, the Boeing 707 was not immediately cleared for landing at Kennedy International Airport and plowed into a hillside in suburban Cove Neck, N.Y.
But Pertuz said the co-pilot's language - saying he was running out of fuel, needed priority, could hold only five more minutes - was more explicit than the word "emergency."
After several hours of discussion, the NTSB voted 4-1 to accept its staff's report on the causes of the crash. However, two board members said they were dissatisfied with some of the report's conclusions.