Local News

Crash Leads to Concern About Commuter Planes

Posted January 10, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— The same type of plane that crashed in Michigan Thursday, killing 19 people, flies out of Raleigh-Durham International airport everyday. Some travelers are worried about flying on commuter planes.

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

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

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

In December of 1994, for example, an American Eagle plane crashed in Wake County killing 15 people. There were survivors of that crash. That tragedy brought the safety of commuter planes into question. Now, the deadly 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 involved in three previous fatal crashes. Investigators blamed two of those on propeller problems.

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

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

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