The United States embraced Canada's findings about a 1985 air crash in Gander, Newfoundland, without consulting the chief U.S. investigator of the disaster, a congressional panel was told yesterday.
George Seidlein, the National Transportation Safety Board's chief on-site investigator in Gander, testified that Canadian investigators were wrong in concluding that ice on the wings caused the crash that killed 256 U.S. servicemen.
Seidlein's superiors at the NTSB endorsed the ice-on-the-wings theory, but did not ask Seidlein for his opinion, even though they sent him to Gander to look into the crash.
Seidlein said weather conditions were not right for ice to have formed on the wings in sufficient amounts to cause the crash. He was not invited to give his views and did not volunteer them, he told the House Judiciary subcommittee on crime.
Instead, he said, the crash occurred because the crew tried to force the DC-8 to climb after takeoff before it had accelerated to a high enough speed.
Seidlein rejected the theory that a terrorist bomb might have downed the plane, a possibility raised by some Canadian investigators, members of Congress and families of the victims.
Several eyewitnesses say they saw a bright flame just before the crash.