A warning beacon should have told the harried, behind-schedule pilots of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown’s plane they were dangerously off course.
But the crew flew on, unaware they lacked the equipment to properly monitor the warnings and should not have even taken off for fog-shrouded Dubrovnik, on the Croatian coast.
These errors, combined with commanders who failed to adequately train their crews and ignored tough restrictions on flying into substandard civilian airports, led to the April 3 crash of Brown’s CT-43A aircraft into a mountainside, the Air Force said Friday. The crash killed Brown and 34 other people.
In effect, the Air Force report blamed the 86th Airlift Wing commanders, the pilots of Brown’s plane, and the Croatian civilians who designed the airport’s instrument landing procedures. Three senior officers with the air wing have already been relieved of command; the pilots were killed in the crash. The Croatian government protested the report’s conclusions about their landing procedures.