Thursday, January 10, 2013

Learjet 25, Starwood Management LLC, N345MC: Accident occurred Sunday, December 09, 2012 in Monterrey, Mexico

NTSB Identification: DCA13RA025  
 Accident occurred Sunday, December 09, 2012 in Monterrey, Mexico
Aircraft: LEARJET INC 25, registration: N345MC
Injuries: 7 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On December 9, 2012, at 0333 Central Standard Time, a Learjet 25, N345MC, crashed in mountainous terrain at an elevation of about 5,600 feet above mean sea level approximately 70 miles south of Monterrey, Mexico. The flight departed General Mariano Escobedo International Airport (MMMY), Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico at 0319 and was enroute to Lic. Adolfo Lopez Mateo International Airport (MMTO), Toluca, Estado de Mexico, Mexico. The two crew members and five passengers on board were fatally injured and the aircraft was destroyed.

The Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil of Mexico (DGAC) is investigating the accident. The NTSB has designated a U.S. Accredited Representative under the provisions of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Annex 13 as the State of Manufacture and Registry of the aircraft.

Inquiries regarding this incident should be directed to:

Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil
Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes
Providencia No. 807 — 6° piso
Colonia del Valle
Codigo Postal 03100
México, D.F.

Lawyers representing the families of Mexican American singer Jenni Rivera and others who died in a plane crash are expected to file a lawsuit against the operator of the private jet company.

Details on the suit against Starwood Management LLC are expected to be released at a 10:30 a.m. news conference Thursday at the Millennium Biltmore hotel in downtown L.A. In addition to Rivera, the lawsuit will cover the families of her publicist, make-up artist, hairstylist and attorney.

Rivera and six others, including two pilots, died Dec. 9 when the private jet they were flying in went into a dive, plummeting nose-first 28,000 feet in 30 seconds before hitting the side of a mountain.

Interviews and documents link the jet to a troubled company and an executive once imprisoned for faking the safety records of planes he bought from the Mexican government and sold to private pilots in the United States.

According to federal aviation records, the Learjet 25 carrying Rivera from a performance in Monterrey, Mexico, was built in 1969 and owned by Las Vegas-based Starwood.

A Starwood executive, Christian E. Esquino Nunez, was accused of conspiring with associates in the 1990s and 2000s to falsify records documenting the history of planes they bought and sold, including tail numbers, inspection stamps and logbooks.

Esquino's "fraudulent business practices ... put the flying public at risk," federal authorities argued in documents obtained by The Times.

"We had a forewarning that this is what he is," Timothy D. Coughlin, an assistant U.S. attorney in San Diego, said. "Essentially, they would manufacture the records ... that would indicate that maintenance was up to date. They would create them out of whole cloth." Once Esquino brought the planes across the border for sale, "it was open season," Coughlin said.

Coughlin prosecuted the case against Esquino in 2005, resulting in a guilty plea that sent Esquino to a federal prison in Lompoc for two years.

After his release from prison, Esquino was deported from Southern California to his native Mexico, where he lives today.

For 20 years, Esquino has been embroiled in a thicket of legal allegations, many involving airplanes--a bankruptcy and a restraining order, criminal indictments and civil judgments, cocaine-distribution charges, even a role in an alleged conspiracy to airlift relatives of the late Moammar Kadafi out of Libya.

Esquino, 50, said in the days after her death that the flight was not a charter as authorities have said. Rather, Rivera was in the final stages of buying the plane from Starwood for $250,000; the flight was offered as a free "demo."

He described himself as Starwood's operations manager and said he understood why his past would place him under scrutiny in the wake of the accident.

"Obviously my past -- there is a story to it," he said. "It's unavoidable that they are going to look at my past.... I think it's fair to bring it up right now and question it."

However, he said, the jet was perfectly maintained. He said the only conceivable explanation for the crash was that pilot Miguel Perez Soto suffered a heart attack or was incapacitated in some way and that a younger co-pilot, Alejandro Torres, was unable to save the plane. (Authorities stressed that they have not determined a cause of the crash or whether the plane had any problems.)

The same plane, according to U.S. aviation records, sustained "substantial" damage in 2005 when a fuel imbalance left one wing tip weighing as much as 300 pounds more than the other. The unnamed pilot, despite having logged more than 7,000 hours in the air, lost control while landing in Amarillo, Texas, and struck a runway distance marker. No one was injured.

Esquino called that accident "minor" and said the plane had flown without issue for 1,000 hours since then.

Story and Video:

  Regis#: 345MC        Make/Model: LJ25      Description: LEARJET 25
  Date: 12/09/2012     Time: 0630

  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: Fatal     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Destroyed



INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   7
                 # Crew:   7     Fat:   7     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Pass:   0     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    

  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER

  FAA FSDO: DALLAS, TX  (SW05)                    Entry date: 12/10/2012