US Air and Raytheon kick crisis plans into high gear

CHARLOTTE, NC: Companies involved in last week's crash of a US Airways Express flight in Charlotte jumped quickly into crisis mode, following what has become standard operating procedure for airline crashes.

CHARLOTTE, NC: Companies involved in last week's crash of a US Airways Express flight in Charlotte jumped quickly into crisis mode, following what has become standard operating procedure for airline crashes.

US Airways posted six releases on its website, including a letter from its president; an advisory referring media calls to Mesa Airlines, the company operating the flight; and a list of fatalities in the crash.

Raytheon, maker of the Beech 1900 twin-engine turboprop that crashed, instituted its crisis plan. The company handled about 40 media calls with internal PR staff, said Tim Travis, manager of corporate communications at Raytheon Aircraft in Wichita, KS.

"We have standard ways of handling aircraft accidents, and that's what we did," Travis said.

Those procedures include not speculating on the cause of the accident.

However, Raytheon did make available information about the type of aircraft and its safety record.

Raytheon also touched base with US Airways offering any assistance needed, Travis said.

Any public discussion about the cause of the accident will come from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which investigates crashes, Travis explained. Speculating on the cause "is generally where the media goes" after a crash, he said.

Travis has already answered media inquiries about safety communiques - essentially, notices to airlines operating a plane about issues to look at - that have been issued about the Beech 1900. Such communiques are routine, Travis said, and don't point to the cause of any given accident.

The NTSB sent an investigator to the crash site, and Raytheon offered to send its own investigator as well, Travis noted.

The US Airways flight crashed shortly after an early-morning takeoff from Charlotte-Douglas Airport. The plane had 19 passengers and two crew members on board.

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