Two Soviet newspapers suggested today that the crash of the Air Florida Boeing 737 in Washington this week was caused by the Reagan administration's wholesale dismissal of air traffic controllers last summer.
Trud, the Soviet labor union newspaper, said the replacement of the dismissed air traffic controllers by inexperienced "scab" labor may have been "fatal" for the Boeing 737.
During the past summer and fall, the paper said, authorities managed to avoid "tragic incidents" due to clear weather conditions. But record snowfalls created extreme conditions in which the new air traffic controllers had "no experience and knowledge and this may have been fatal for the passengers" of Air Florida.
The newspaper Sovetskaya Rossiya published a similar account asserting that the administration was trying to avoid responsibility for the catastrophe by insisting that there were no reasons to believe that it may have been caused by a mistake by air traffic controllers.
Both papers quoted a survivor as saying that the tragedy was a result of a 1 1/2-hour delay before the aircraft was cleared for takeoff. During that period, the papers said, portions of the aircraft were covered with a solid layer of ice. "Air traffic control service, however, permitted the takeoff without a required antifreeze treatment."