FAA says no passengers on Collings Foundation aircraft after deadly CT crash
In a recent ruling, the Federal Aviation Administration revoked the Collings Foundation’s permission to have passengers aboard its aircraft after a deadly crash last October, citing various safety reasons.
The ruling comes nearly six months after a World War II B-17 bomber Nine O Nine — owned by the Collings Foundation — crashed soon after taking off from Bradley International Airport on Oct. 2, 2019.
The National Transportation Safety Board investigation is ongoing.
In the seven-page FAA decision, released Wednesday, FAA Deputy Executive Director of Flight Service Standards Robert Carty indicated there were issues with two of the aircraft’s four engines and that the foundation didn’t follow requirements to run the plane and carry passengers.
Hunter Chaney, a spokesman for the Collings Foundation, said in a statement Thursday, “The Collings Foundation currently is reviewing the FAA’s decision and evaluating our options. As a party to the NTSB investigation into the tragic B-17 accident in Connecticut on October 2 of last year, we are not permitted comment on issues pertaining to the accident investigation or findings to date. We look forward to discussing with the FAA its decision findings that were not addressed with the Foundation before the issuance of the FAA decision.
“Through thirty years of passenger carrying operations, and until the October 2, 2019 accident, the Wings of Freedom tour had never had an accident, injury or fatality. This record reflects a commitment to safety that has proudly set a standard among the Warbird community for generations. The Foundation has always held safety as its top priority.”
The FAA ruling takes away the permission Collings had to charge for rides on its historic collection of planes. It also denied Collings Foundation’s request for an extension of that permission for 10 aircraft.
A few weeks after the Bradley crash, Collings Foundation asked its supporters to support the exemption application to the FAA.
In the decision, Carty said the FAA understands flights on these historic aircraft are “meaningful to some members of the public,” he said the FAA is required to make sure everything is operating in the best way for public interest.
The FAA findings, according to Carty’s decision, indicated that Collings was not fulfilling several requirements and that “Collings lacked a safety culture” — necessary to continue to operate.
Among the findings, Carty said, was that the crew chief on the flight that crash was not trained for his role.
“Given the facts of the accident on Oct. 2, 2019, and the subsequent evidence of Collings’s lack of compliance ... the FAA has determined that granting the exemption ... would not be in the public interest because of the adverse effect on safety,” Carty wrote.
His decision indicated that if the FAA continued to let Collings Foundation carry passengers on its aircraft, it would “adversely affect safety.”