Air Transport World

More than ice may be to blame.(Simmons American Eagle Flight 4184 accident of October 31, 1994)

INDIANAPOLIS--The crew of the doomed Simmons American Eagle flight 4184 did not receive nor request any updated weather information before the ATR 72 crashed in a soybean field near Roselawn, Ind., on Oct 31, killing all aboard, the investigator in charge revealed during a several-day public hearing here. Icing still is suspected as the principal cause but investigators are examining how other factors may have played a role in the crash that killed 68 passengers and crew.

After examining the CVR, Gregory A. Feith said the crew did not receive any significant meteorological information (SIGMETs) or airman meteorological information (AIRMETs) during the flight. In addition, Sabre Information Services, which provides data to air crews from American Airlines headquarters in Dallas, did not contain any reports of forecast turbulence or icing conditions for 4184's route of flight. "However, icing conditions and turbulence had been forecast by the National Weather Service," Feith testified.

Three ATC supervisors who had been on duty on the night of the crash told investigators that reports of light to moderate icing, which included PIREPS from two flights in the Chicago area, were not passed along to the crew of 4174. No explanation was given.

Investigators also were puzzled why the ATR 72 was kept in a holding pattern for 35 min. Michael Debb, area supervisor of the Chicago ATC center, said the reason for the delay was that several jet flights converged on O'Hare Airport---4174's destination--at the same time. Flights from the west were given priority. Those from the south and east were held. But one investigator intimated that the ATR was held back, in part, because it was a turboprop and jets usually get landing priority, particularly in adverse weather. …

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