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Report Lists Factors In Brown Crash Air Force Completes Probe Into Death Of Commerce Secretary

Fri., June 7, 1996

The jet crash that killed Commerce Secretary Ron Brown was caused by a deadly combination of factors including questionable pilot decisions, Defense Secretary William J. Perry said Thursday.

“It was not one single problem or mistake,” Perry said in an interview aboard his plane en route from Europe. “There was a string of events which led to the accident.”

The findings of an Air Force investigation will be made public today.

The Air Force T-43 passenger jet ferrying Brown and 34 others from Tuzla, Bosnia, to Dubrovnik, Croatia, on April 3 veered off course on its approach to the Dubrovnik airport in a thunderstorm and slammed into a rocky mountain peak. No one survived.

Besides doubtful decisions by the pilot, Perry said, contributing factors were Air Force leaders’ failure to certify the airport as safe in advance, insufficient navigational guidance from the airport and a wind that caused the plane to drift off course.

The investigation concluded, however, that weather wasn’t a “causal factor” in the crash, according to an Air Force official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Upon his arrival in Washington, Perry went directly to the Pentagon for a detailed review of the Air Force’s investigation of the accident, which already has resulted in decisions to sack three Air Force commanders in Europe.

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