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Croatia Claims No Responsibility  in Crash of Ron Brown's Plane
Hopes to Resume Lucrative Tourist Trade
ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — The government minister in charge of transportation said Thursday that neither Croatian air control nor Dubrovnik’s airport was responsible for the crash that killed U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown. The comments by Communications and Transport Minister Zeljko Luzavec appeared aimed at countering local news reports questioning whether old equipment made the Dubrovnik airport unsafe, and salvaging something of the coming tourist season.

Tourism along Croatia’s Adriatic coast was a $4-billion-a-year business before war broke out in 1991. Croatia is hoping to regain the lost business, but European air companies reportedly have canceled flights to Dubrovnik since the crash April 3 that killed Brown and 34 other people. Dubrovnik is one of Croatia’s main tourist destinations.

Luzavec said articles about safety at the airport caused huge damage to the tourism industry. “During the investigation of the plane’s crash, I did not see any fact that would indicate an error of the control tower or the Dubrovnik airport,” Luzavec told reporters. It is still not clear what caused the crash.

U.S. and Croatian officials have not finished their investigation, which is underway both at the crash site near Dubrovnik and at U.S. bases in Germany and the United States. On Thursday, the Croatian news agency HINA said U.S. helicopters lifted the tail section of the plane off the Dalmatian hillside where it crashed in bad weather. U.S. officials have said it would take another six to eight weeks for any preliminary results to be released. “The plane, for some reasons, did not follow a regular procedure for landing at the Dubrovnik airport,” HINA quoted Luzavec as saying. “Our control tower and the airport did not do anything that would cause the tragedy.”

Since the crash, independent media in Croatia have questioned whether Dubrovnik airport might have become unsafe due to the government’s delay in replacing the sophisticated equipment taken by the withdrawing Yugoslav army in 1992. Dubrovnik’s navigation system relied on technology previously described by American and local officials as reliable, but about 50 years old. The more advanced Instrumental Landing System was stolen by the Serb-led army and a new one was scheduled to be installed by the end of the summer. A test conducted recently by a C-12 aircraft with a pilot and a crew from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration showed no problems with the airport’s navigation system, but more analysis is needed to determine whether the system was working well when Brown’s plane crashed.

Additional resources
Apr 11 · Dubrovnik Airport Cleared in Crash Probe

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