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Crash Leads to Concern About Commuter Planes

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MORRISVILLE — The same type of plane that crashed inMichigan Thursday, killing 19 people, flies out of Raleigh-DurhamInternational airport everyday. Some travelers are worried about flying oncommuter planes.

About 40 percent of the flights that leave RDU daily are commuterflights, but the Embraer 120 only flies out about four times per day. Evenso, some travelers say the crash is on their minds as they board.

But Marty Edwards, who was a commuter pilot for seven years, saysthere's really nothing to worry about.

Edwards says commuter planes are routinely inspected and pilots arewell-trained, but that insider's logic doesn't always placate passengerswho know crashes have occurred.

In December of 1994, for example, an American Eagle plane crashed inWake County killing 15 people. There were survivors of that crash. Thattragedy brought the safety of commuter planes into question. Now, thedeadly crash in Michigan has done it again.

Traveler Todd Williams said he's a little more nervous than usual.

The twin-engine Embraer 120, which crashed Thursday, has been involvedin three previous fatal crashes. Investigators blamed two of those onpropeller problems.

Commuter Kelly Bracey says you just get numb to worrying if you have tofly a lot.

Strickler says, as a rule, he feels safer in larger planes.

Edwards says people have a tendency to associate propeller-drivenairplanes with a lack of safety, but he says it is a misconception.Edwards just left his position at a commuter airline in September. He sayshe never had any major problems with a plane for the entire seven years heworked there.

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