The commission found that the squadron was deployed at Aviano on August 27, 1997, before the publishing of new directives by the Italian government forbidding flight below 2,000 feet (610 m) in Trentino-Alto Adige. Italian observers, not surprisingly, are as stunned as they were disappointed. It was determined that the maps on board did not show the cables and that the EA-6B was flying somewhat faster and considerably lower than allowed by military regulations. Twenty people died when a United States Marine Corps EA-6B Prowler aircraft, flying too low and against regulations, cut a cable supporting a gondola of an aerial tramway. 2009)", "Investigators Blame Marines for Cable Car Accident", "Il rapporto finale sul Cermis [The final report on the Cermis]", Pakistan International Airlines Flight 544, Accidents and incidents involving United States Navy and Marine Corps aircraft, Aviation accidents and incidents in Italy, United States Marine Corps in the 20th century, 20 dead (1 cable car operator, 19 passengers). Nor does Nato ground command face any punishment, even though many think its ineptitude is manifest. Ashby and Schweitzer are accused of perverting the course of justice, also conduct unbecoming of an officer and gentleman.

The cabin fell some 200 metres (660 ft) down a mountainside, then skidded 100 metres (330 ft) before coming to a halt in a grassy meadow.

The plane had wing and tail damage but was able to return to Aviano Air Base. Cavalese cable-car disaster: It's 20 years since a US aircraft killed 20 people in the Dolomites and still no one accepts responsibility. Ashby further claimed that the altitude-measuring equipment, the altimeter, on his plane had been malfunctioning, and that he had been unaware of the speed restrictions. So he banks his aircraft suddenly upwards: a response that does not prevent – 30 seconds later – his rising right wing snapping those tourists’ essential lifeline, a sturdy cable, more than two inches thick. The restrictions in effect at the time required a minimum flying height of 2,000 feet (610 m); Ashby said he thought they were at 1,000 feet (305 m). In the seat next to Ashby is his decade-serving navigator, Joseph Schweitzer, whose duties are flight plan, mapping an exact route, altitude, and communications with the ground. The aircraft was flying at a speed of 540 miles per hour (870 km/h) and at an altitude of between 260 and 330 feet (80 and 100 m). The document reports a camcorder aboard the flight, but it was blank after Schweitzer had taken the original cassette and burned it afterwards. In March 1999, the jury acquitted Ashby, outraging the European public.

NATO treaties obligated the U.S. government to pay 75% of this compensation, which it did. They no longer want US aircraft to fly from Aviano or anywhere else. Public relations is a deft – maybe devious – art. On the morning of the disaster, the plane underwent maintenance due to a fault in the "G meter", which measures g-forces, and was replaced. The pilot, Captain Richard J. Ashby, and his navigator, Captain Joseph Schweitzer, were put on trial in the United States and found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide. On the morning of the disaster, the plane underwent maintenance due to a fault in the "G meter", which measures g-forces, and was replaced. Ambassador to Italy, Thomas M. Foglietta, visited the crash site and knelt in prayer, offering apologies on behalf of the United States. The cable was severed causing the cabin from Cermis with twenty people on board to plunge over 260 feet (79 m), leaving no survivors. The investigation team suggested that disciplinary measures against the flight crew and commanding officers should be taken, that the United States had to bear the full blame for what happened, and that victims' relatives were entitled to receive a monetary settlement. Cavalese cable car disaster; The cabin after the incident. Want an ad-free experience?Subscribe to Independent Premium. Twenty people died when a United States Marine Corps EA-6B Prowler aircraft cut a cable supporting a gondola of an aerial tramway. The most insightful comments on all subjects will be published daily in dedicated articles. The pilot, Captain Richard J. Ashby, and his navigator, Captain Joseph Schweitzer, were put on trial in the United States and were found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide. When reaching approximately 46°17′01″N 11°28′02″E / 46.283733°N 11.467237°E / 46.283733; 11.467237Coordinates: 46°17′01″N 11°28′02″E / 46.283733°N 11.467237°E / 46.283733; 11.467237, the aircraft's right wing struck the cables from underneath. In December 1999, the Italian legislature approved a monetary compensation plan for the families ($1.9 million per victim). The report includes flight tracing from a nearby AWACS airplane. [3][4][5], The cable car had a capacity of 40 people or 7,000 pounds (3,200 kg). Initially, all four men on the plane were charged, but only the pilot, Captain Richard J. Ashby, and his navigator, Captain Joseph Schweitzer, actually faced trial, charged with twenty counts of involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide. For the 1998 crash, see. Nor have they forgiven their own Italian Air Force for severing electricity cables two years earlier, leading to major power outage. "[7] They were found guilty in May 1999; both were dismissed from the service and the pilot received a six-month prison term. [10] Decisions from the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces were made available in August 2009. She testified in the succeeding trials and later worked as a journalist for the science magazine Airone, before her death from illness in 2009. After a '‘daredevil'’ negotiation of Lake Garda – some of whose surrounding mountains are 11,000 feet in height – and the rehearsal of a spar (a spoiler-augmented roll), Ashby skirts just west of Trento – capital of the autonomous Italian province Trentino – and proceeds 20 miles north-east, in the process entering the narrow Val di Fiemme, a valley dissected, as so often in the Alps, by its principal cable car. The aircraft’s right wing struck the cables supporting the cable car.

Ashby's trial took place at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. And not only are they both found guilty: Ashby sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, reduced to 19 weeks for good behaviour. Later they were found guilty of obstruction of justice and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman for having destroyed a videotape recorded from the plane, and were dismissed from the Marine Corps.

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