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President Orders Safety Review of Executive Air Fleet

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 1996 – President Clinton has ordered a top-to-bottom review of DoD's executive air fleet following four military plane crashes involving senior government officials or their staffs.

Defense Secretary William J. Perry appointed retired Navy Vice Adm. Donald D. Engen Sept. 10 to head an independent review of DoD's executive air transportation.

The president ordered the review following the Sept. 8 crash of a Marine Corps CH-46 helicopter. The chopper flipped over and burned in Orlando, Fla., while supporting a presidential trip. Five Marines and one Boeing Co. employee aboard were unhurt, DoD officials said.

Earlier in the day, another Marine Corps helicopter on the same support mission made an emergency landing in a field near Orlando when a hydraulic system warning light came on. No one was injured in the incident, officials said.

In August, an Air Force C-130 transport crashed near Jackson Hole, Wyo., killing eight crewmembers from Dyess Air Force Base, Tex., and a Secret Service agent from Clinton, Md. The plane was on a presidential mission carrying vehicles and other support equipment. In April, an Air Force T-43 passenger jet crashed near Dubrovnik, Croatia, killing Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and 34 others.

Engen, a 36-year veteran naval aviator, has been flying for 54 years and has flown 7,500 hours in more than 260 types of aircraft. During his military career, he served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He served as deputy commander in chief, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, and as deputy commander in chief and chief of staff for the U.S. Atlantic Command and U.S. Atlantic Fleet, according to Navy officials.

Since retiring in 1978, Engen served for more than three years as as administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. He served two years as a member of the National Transportation Safety Board and five years as president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Air Safety Foundation. Last year, Engen ran the Air Force safety review called for by Chief of Staff Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman. In July, he became director of the Smithsonian Institution's Air and Space Museum here.

Engen's review team will examine practices and procedures affecting reliability and safety at every level of training, operation and maintenance of DoD's executive air transportation, DoD officials said. It will include types of aircraft used, aircraft and equipment maintenance, schedules and procedures, pilot and crew selection, and training and accident investigation.

Findings and recommendations will be reported in about 30 days, DoD officials said.

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