Check flying is gone, replaced by electronic clearing. Auto parts is like “hot shot” trucking. Assembly line is about to run out and shut down. The manufacturer calls out the cavalry—last minute operators who don’t have the capital to buy new planes or equip them with stuff like FDR or the like. This was a 62-year old piston airplane—who has R-2800 experience and parts.
Exactly how do you propose fitting an FDR to the plane? Just because it doesn’t have one, doesn’t make it inherently unsafe. Nor do piston engines. At the utilization these planes get, the only way to make money is to use older affordable airplanes, and have pilots who can handle them.
Probably cannot fit recorders and that’s a problem. Without recorders, finding the causal factors will be difficult or impossible, hence we won’t be able to have the tools to prevent a repeat accident. That’s a loss of safety potential. Virtually no other commercial operation would get away with large aircraft lacking recorders. Heck, bizjets require them.
Planes aren’t steam locos like the UP’s Big Boy you can start up and fly. The technology and performance on a Convair 440 is out of date and should be put to an end. Try looking at OEI performance on one. If the auto industry needs the parts train, they need to pony up for at least a semi-modern fleet. Say, a converted Mad Dog or CL850 conversion, at least a on-off FDX charter.