Indiana News

18 Years After Indiana Plane Crash, Aftermath Has Changed Aviation

Crash led to anti-icing steps, law requiring better treatment of families


Flight 4184 Memorial

Halloween marks the 18th anniversary of the crash of American Eagle Flight 4184 from Indianapolis to Chicago -- a crash that led to changes in the aviation industry.


Relatives of many of the 68 people killed in the crash will gather at the crash site in Roselawn for their annual remembrance. The observance will be less formal than in past years -- Jen Stansberry Miller of Fishers says the Roselawn pastor who usually presides over the service was unavailable.

Miller's brother Brad was among those killed in the crash. She says the families are working on plans for a permanent memorial to replace the 68 crosses which now mark the spot. They hope to have a proposal ready to present to the Newton County Commissioners in time for the memorial to be built before the 20th anniversary of the crash, in 2014.

A Federal Aviation Administration investigation blamed the crash on icing. The finding led to new FAA regulations for pilots to follow in icing conditions, and to a redesign of the ATR turboprop aircraft to make its de-icers more effective. Miller says several airlines, including American Eagle, stopped using ATR aircraft in the Great Lakes region, moving them to hubs in warmer conditions.

Along with crashes in New York and Miami two years later, the Roselawn crash led to the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act, which orders airlines to implement a more disciplined approach to communicating with passengers' families after a crash. The law gives the National Transportation Safety Board a direct role in coordinating family outreach. Families in all three crashes complained of slapdash treatment by the airlines -- Miller says American Eagle sent her family the wrong remains, and failed to clean up the crash site. She says victims' relatives combed the crash site themselves, and were still finding remains a year after the crash.


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