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Dubrovnik Airport Maintenance Chief Commits Suicide
Wreckage of Brown's Plane(DUBROVNIK, Croatia—AP) Investigators into the crash of a military plane carrying Commerce Secretary Ron Brown said Sunday they had found some of the plane’s instruments, but their work will be slowed by the absence of flight records. U.S. and Croatian authorities also disclosed Sunday that the maintenance chief for the navigations system at the airport where Brown’s plane was headed committed suicide Saturday. Authorities did not connect the suicide to Wednesday’s crash.

Croat authorities said Niko Junic, 46, killed himself at his home, said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ray Shepherd, a spokesman for Brig. Gen. Charles Coolidge, who is investigating the accident. Croatia’s aviation inspector has said all navigational instruments at Dubrovnik’s Cilipi airport were operating normally when the T-43 hit a hilltop as it came in for a landing. All 35 aboard died in the crash, which occurred during high wind and rain.

The suicide "doesn’t change our procedure," Shepherd said. "The investigation will continue as planned. There are a number of things we do, including checking the navigation system," he said. "In fact, this guy would have been part of our investigation."

Cause Obscured by Lack of Black Box
Tom Haueter, an investigator from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, said searchers have recovered a few of the plane’s instruments in "fairly good shape, and that will help." But he added, "obviously, we’re constrained in that we don’t have a flight data recorder."

The T-43, the military version of a Boeing 737, was en route from Tuzla in Bosnia. Brown’s delegation was looking into possibilities for U.S. business and investment in the war-ravaged country. Defense Secretary William Perry said Thursday that the plane may have had an instrument problems, but the cause of the crash is far from clear. The plane was not outfitted with flight data and voice recorders, commonly known as black boxes.

Haueter said investigators do not yet have copies of radio tapes between the control tower and the plane because transcripts have to be verified by several people before they can be used. The investigator said that Brown’s plane was not as badly destroyed as many of the crashed planes he had seen. "This is not nearly as fragmented... the impact angles and speed are less than others I’ve seen," he said.

Additional resources
Brown Plane was Military Version of Boeing 737
Crash Victims Return Home April 7
Commander Worried by Flight Safety was Sacked April 6

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