The National Transportation Safety Board recommended late yesterday that the Federal Aviation Administration ground many of the 90 Brazilian-made "Bandeirante" commuter airplanes in the United States until safety modifications can be made or inspections completed.
The FAA will consider the recommendation quickly, spokesman Ed Pinto said.
If the FAA follows the recommendation, it could disrupt commuter airline schedules because Bandeirantes are used by about 10 carriers and the recommended corrections could keep them on the ground for more than 24 hours.
The recommendation stems from the board's investigation of a Dec. 6 accident in Jacksonville in which a Provincetown Boston Airlines flight crashed immediately after takeoff and killed all 13 people on board.
The plane was an Embraer 110, nicknamed the Bandeirante.
The accident occurred, the board said, after the plane's "elevators and horizontal stabilizer separated in flight, rendering the airplane uncontrollable."
The horizontal stabilizer is the wing-like part of the tail; the elevator is the movable section of that part. They permit an airplane to climb, descend or stay level in flight.
The stabilizer broke from its connections and "metallurgical examination of the separation . . . has disclosed evidence of pre-accident working and/or sheared rivets" at the connecting points, the board said.
Investigators do not know what initiated the break, however.
"The safety board believes that . . . unmodified airplanes may be in service with loose and/or sheared rivets in major structural members of the horizontal stabilizer attachment," it said.
Most U.S.-service Bandeirantes have been inspected since the accident, but the board said that some of them have not received a modification it recommends, that some could have been damaged during modification and that previous inspection procedures are "not adequate to detect damage."