- Audrey Ulozas, mother of deceased Fine Air pilot
The FAA did not adequately monitor Fine Air, and it failed to correct "known cargo-related deficiencies," the NTSB found. Records show Aeromar had been improperly loading Fine Air planes even before the crash, but the FAA did not stop it.
One inspector had not conducted en route inspections of Fine Air in 1996 or 1997 ''because of other work priorities,'' a lengthy NTSB report said, and none of the inspectors assigned to the company had training in the DC-8.
"FAA inspectors assigned to Fine Air . stated that before the Fine Air accident, there was 'no guidance' or 'minimal guidance' in FAA written directives for the surveillance of cargo operations."
''To us, cargo is cargo,'' another FAA official said.
Ultimately, the NTSB concluded: "The deficiencies . are indicative of a broader failure of the Federal Aviation Administration to adequately monitor air carriers, especially supplemental cargo carriers, in which operational problems had been identified."
Last June, the FAA issued a report to air cargo operators suggesting better safeguards on the handling of cargo -- a belated offshoot of the crash. ''I think the proof is right there," said David E. Cann, manager of the FAA's Flight Standards Aircraft Maintenance Division, pointing to the report.
Yet the document is meant for the largest cargo planes, those that operate under FAA regulations that also govern passenger jets. It is not written for the myriad smaller operators whose accidents account for nine of every 10 fatal crashes, The Miami Herald found.
"They think that air cargo is unimportant," Deirdre ''Penny'' Thompson, the captain's mother, said by phone from England. "But in all of my letters I said if the safety is not addressed, one day one of these planes is going to come down on a lot of people's heads."
| Reporting by Ronnie Greene | Photography by Candace Barbot | Audio Editing by Rhonda Victor Sibilia | Online Production by Stephanie Rosenblatt | (c) Miami Herald July 9, 2006 |