Shutdown de­lays hear­ing on UM plane’s slide of run­way

The Detroit News - - METRO / BUSINESS - BY MELISSA NANN BURKE Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Due to the par­tial gov­ern­ment shutdown, the National Trans­porta­tion Safety Board has post­poned next week’s hear­ing on the 2017 Wil­low Run Air­port run­way in­ci­dent in­volv­ing the Michi­gan men’s bas­ket­ball team.

The NTSB tweeted Fri­day that it would resched­ule its planned Jan. 15 board meet­ing “for a fu­ture date.”

The board is an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tory agency housed in the U.S. De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion, which is among the nine fed­eral de­part­ments whose fund­ing ran out Dec. 21.

The lapse in fund­ing au­thor­ity en­tered its 21st day on Fri­day, with no sign of a deal on the hori­zon be­tween con­gres­sional Democrats and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who is hold­ing out for $5.7 bil­lion for a bor­der wall.

The run­way in­ci­dent oc­curred March 8, 2017, and in­volved a Boe­ing MD-83 air­plane char­tered to carry the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan men’s bas­ket­ball team to Washington Dulles In­ter­na­tional Air­port in north­ern Vir­ginia for a Big Ten tour­na­ment game against Illi­nois.

The bas­ket­ball program said at the time that the plane at­tempted to take off in high winds but the cap­tain aborted the take­off, braked and then the plane skid­ded 1,000 feet off the end of Run­way 23L at Yp­si­lanti’s Wil­low Run Air­port.

The flight’s 110 pas­sen­gers and six flight crew mem­bers evac­u­ated the air­plane on emer­gency es­cape slides, with one pas­sen­ger re­ceiv­ing a mi­nor in­jury. The plane was “sub­stan­tially dam­aged,” ac­cord­ing to the NTSB.

The char­ter flight was op­er­ated by Ameris­tar Char­ters. In ad­di­tion to the Michi­gan men’s bas­ket­ball team, cheer­lead­ers, band mem­bers and mem­bers of the staff’s fam­i­lies were also on board.

A preliminary NTSB re­port in­di­cated that one of the plane’s el­e­va­tors — there is a left and a right el­e­va­tor, which are the pri­mary means of con­trol­ling an air­plane’s pitch — was jammed in a “trail­ing edge-down po­si­tion (air­plane nose down).”

The NTSB also pre­vi­ously re­leased part of its in­ves­tiga­tive re­port re­veal­ing that pilot Mark Radloff broke pro­to­col by abort­ing take­off while trav­el­ing at 187 mph, though his decision ended up sav­ing all 116 lives.

Washt­e­naw County, where the air­port is lo­cated, was un­der a high wind ad­vi­sory on the day of the in­ci­dent. The preliminary NTSB re­port said wind speeds at the time were 35 knots (about 40 mph) with gusts of 50 knots (about 56 mph).

Eric Bron­son / Michi­gan Pho­tog­ra­phy

The run­way in­ci­dent oc­curred in 2017 as the UM men’s bas­ket­ball team tried to leave for Washington Dulles In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

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