Federal investigators said Tuesday the pilot of the Continental Airlines jet that crashed last November in a snowstorm in Denver had a history of training problems and little experience flying jet aircraft.
The experience of the cockpit crew of Continental Flight 1713 was a key focus of the National Transportation Safety Board's nearly yearlong investigation of the crash last Nov. 15 in which 28 of the 82 people aboard were killed.As the safety board prepared its final report of the accident, its staff of investigators made clear at a hearing that pilot experience and questions about whether the aircraft took off with ice on the wings were central factors in the accident.
Investigators said first officer Lee Bruecher, 26, the plane's second in command who was at the controls of the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 as it took off, had numerous training problems dating back to 1983.
He had failed initial tests for his multi-engine license and was fired by a small air taxi operator in 1985.
After being hired by Continental in the summer of 1987, Bruecher went through a series of simulator training tests in which instructors found him to have problems controlling his flights. At one such test an instructor said Bruecher "completely lost control of (his) aircraft with engine out at 2,000 feet . . . ," according to Continental documents reviewed by the safety board.