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FAA TO KEEP USAIR TAPE UNDER WRAPS

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The crew of USAir Flight 427 said "Oh . . . emergency," followed by an expletive as their plane plunged to the ground near Pittsburgh in Sep-tem-ber.

But details of the tape-recorded conversations between the aircraft and air traffic controllers at the moment of the deadly accident were not made public, an unusual move "out of compassion for the surviving families."It contains expressions of human suffering," Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Drucella Andersen said Friday.

She said she could not recall any instance of such tapes being withheld in the past, but the decision to do it this time was made by top officials of the FAA because they felt it would be an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

Recorded conversations between the crew and controllers leading up to the moment of the accident revealed only routine discussions of altitude, speed and direction of the aircraft.

Air traffic controllers routinely record their conversations with aircraft crews, and the tapes can sometimes provide clues to what went wrong in the event of an accident.

Investigators are struggling to pinpoint the cause of the accident.