Sep 22, 2002
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Federal Aviation Administration will ask airlines to weigh some passengers and bags before they board 19-seat planes to find out whether current weight estimates are appropriate.
Investigators are exploring the possibility that too much weight contributed to the January 8 crash of a 19-seat Beech 1900 turboprop that killed 21 people in North Carolina.
Debby McElroy, president of the Regional Airlines Association, which is working with the FAA, told The Associated Press airlines are being asked to weigh passengers and bags once within a month at about a third of the airports used by aircraft that carry 19 passengers.
The directive will affect a total of about 200 Jetstream 31s, Metro 23s and Beech 1900s, she said.
The FAA scheduled a news conference Monday afternoon to announce the initiative.
The FAA allows airlines to estimate that a male passenger flying in winter averages 175 pounds, including clothing and carry-ons, and that each checked bag weighs an average of 25 pounds.
They want to get a sense for whether those numbers are still appropriate, McElroy said.
Adult men averaged 180.7 pounds in 1994, the most recent year in which statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention are available. And bags, particularly the popular wheeled versions, also have gotten larger.
People go out with these roll bags that weight 40 to 50 pounds, said David Stempler, president of the Air Travelers Association.
The maximum takeoff weight for the Beech 1900 that crashed in Charlotte is just over 17,000 pounds. The National Transportation Safety Board said the plane''s documentation shows it was within 100 pounds of that weight.
Investigators also are looking at weight distribution, which is just as important as total weight because it affects an aircraft''s center of gravity. Too many bags in the rear compartment or a few large people in the back could change a small plane''s center of gravity and make it more much difficult to fly.