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Dubrovnik Airposrt Systems Okay Today
(ZAGREB, Croatia, April 9—AP) The navigation system of Dubrovnik airport is working properly, U.S. investigators said Tuesday, but added they still don’t know whether that was the case when Commerce Secretary Ron Brown died. Brown’s plane slammed into a hilltop near Dubrovnik in a windy rainstorm last Wednesday, killing all 35 people aboard. Brown and a group of U.S. business leaders were looking into business and investment opportunities in the Balkans.

A C-12 aircraft with a pilot and test crew from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration tested the navigation system Monday and "found it to be OK," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ray Shepherd. But Shepherd said that does not mean the navigation system was working properly at the time of the crash, although another five planes landed successfully at Dubrovnik airport the same day.

The navigation system at Dubrovnik relies on non-directional beacons to show the pilot whether he is on the right course. By contrast, the more advanced Instrument Landing System in use at most busy European airports sends signals to approaching aircraft from the ground. That way, when the plane gets to 200 feet from the ground, the pilot will know if it can safely land. Dubrovnik once had the more sophisticated system. But the Yugoslav army stripped the airport of the system in 1992 and the equipment never was replaced.

To determine whether the beacons were functioning well at the time of the crash, investigators still have to interview the air controllers on duty at the time and analyze radio tapes of conversation between the control tower and the plane, Shepherd said.

Brown’s plane was not outfitted with flight data and voice recorders, commonly known as black boxes. The plane veered off course on its final approach, raising questions about whether the airport is equipped for safe landing in bad weather. Visibility was poor and the pilot was using the plane’s instruments to land when air traffic controllers lost contact.

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