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Grounding of Old War Plane Urged

May 29, 1999|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A federal safety panel recommended Friday that a type of old military plane used in civilian combat simulations be temporarily grounded because it can lose its wings in sharp turns, as apparently happened in a recent fatal crash.

The Beech T-34A, a plane bought by the Air Force in 1950 and later used by the Navy as well, appears to be straining under the heavy forces of the turns and dives common in classes in which civilians engage in mock combat in planes flown by flight instructors.

The grounding should last until a proper inspection program is developed, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA said it planned to issue an order as early as today requiring that a placard be placed in the cockpit of T-34s spelling out performance limitations for the plane. It will say that the plane's speed cannot exceed 175 mph, that acrobatic maneuvers are prohibited and that normal acceleration cannot surpass 2.5 times the weight of gravity.

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