By: Staff reports

Alaska Airlines Crash Story Flawed

The Seattle Times published a front-page clarification and apology this weekend
regarding a discredited story that the Alaska Airlines MD-83 aircraft that
crashed last week had experienced mechanical problems on its next-to-last flight,
according to a report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The top headline story in some Wednesday editions of the Times said Alaska
Airlines pilots had reported problems with the horizontal stabilizer of the MD-83
aircraft on a flight to Mexico just hours before it crashed. That story quoted an
unnamed ‘senior mechanic’ at the airline.

The National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday the pilots denied that
report. The pilots said the aircraft had ‘performed in a normal manner with no
system malfunctions’ on the last two flights before it plunged into the Pacific

The Times said after the NTSB denial, it had been unable to reach the mechanic,
whom it described as a ‘regularly reliable source.’ Alex MacLeod, the paper’s
managing editor, said it issued the apology because its story Wednesday seemed
‘misleading and incorrect.’

But MacLeod said he could not say whether subsequent developments in the
investigation or a second interview with the mechanic will continue to show that the
story was wrong.


Staff reports

(c) Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher

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