Remembering George: http://rememberinggeorge.com
Beechcraft 58 Baron, Quest Diagnostics Inc., N167TB: Accident occurred August 21, 2009 in Teterboro, New Jersey
Thursday December 12, 2013, 5:51 PM
The family of a pilot killed in a plane crash four years ago near Teterboro Airport will receive $7.5 million under a settlement finalized in Hackensack on Thursday with the owner of the aircraft.
George Maddox, 54, of Sinking Springs, Pa., was the pilot in command of a two-seat, twin-engine Beechcraft model BE-58 Baron plane in August 2009. The plane, owned and operated by Quest Diagnostics, was flying from Pottstown, Pa., to deliver specimens to a Quest laboratory in Teterboro.
Sanil Gopinath of Laurel, Md., was the co-pilot. A lawsuit filed by Maddox’s widow, Lisa, claimed Gopinath, an independent “contract” pilot, was the one operating the plane at the time of the crash
Authorities said at the time that the plane approached Teterboro Airport but aborted a landing and went for a “go-around,” a standard maneuver that is undertaken if a pilot is not comfortable with executing a landing. The plane then hit a tree, crossed Route 46 and burst into flames outside the Mohawk Carpet Co., authorities said.
Maddox suffered severe burns and died two weeks later from his injuries. Gopinath also was injured but survived.
Lisa Maddox filed her lawsuit in Superior Court in Hackensack in 2011, claiming that the crash was caused by “operational error” and “maintenance related failure.”
In claiming Gopinath was the pilot during the flight, the lawsuit quoted an interview with Gopinath after the crash, in which he said, “I brought the power down, I made a left turn, and [Captain Maddox] freaks out, ‘What have you done? You’ve lost both your engines’.”
The lawsuit claims Gopinath did not have the proper training or experience to fly the plane and that Quest was at fault for hiring him.
The settlement, which was formalized Thursday before Superior Court Judge Brian Martinotti, provides compensation for Maddox’s wrongful death as well as pain and suffering before he died.
The agreement also provides that the amount — after the payment of attorney fees — will be split between Lisa Maddox and her 11-year-old daughter, Lily. The amount also includes payment of $60,000 a year for four years for Lily’s college education.
Martinotti said the settlement was a “fair and reasonable” conclusion to the more than two years of litigation that involved thousands of pages of documents and several attorneys.
Lisa Maddox, who lives in Pennsylvania, attended the hearing Thursday through teleconferencing. Answering questions from Martinotti, she said she was pleased with the outcome of the settlement.
Her attorney, Geoffrey Fieger, declined to comment, saying the settlement deal includes an agreement among the attorneys not to comment about the case.
Dennis Kadian, the attorney for Quest, also declined to comment.
NTSB Identification: ERA09LA469
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, August 21, 2009 in Teterboro, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/16/2011
Aircraft: RAYTHEON AIRCRAFT COMPANY 58, registration: N167TB
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Serious.
NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The airplane was operating as a corporate flight transporting medical specimens on a night, visual approach in visual meteorological conditions when the accident occurred. The flight was scheduled to be a single-pilot operation conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, and the pilot-in-command (PIC) had been assigned to the flight. Although the second-in-command (SIC), also a Quest Diagnostics pilot, was not assigned to the flight, he asked the PIC if he could accompany him on the flight to gain familiarization with operations into Teterboro Airport. Typically, the PIC flies the airplane from the left seat; however, the PIC on this flight allowed the SIC to occupy the left seat and fly the airplane. The investigation could not determine if the pilots had coordinated responsibilities for the flight before departure or if the PIC was providing additional training to the SIC during the flight.
Radar data indicated that, while on the base leg of the traffic pattern, the airplane had an airspeed of about 204 knots, which exceeded the maximum flap extension speed by more than 50 knots and the maximum landing gear extension speed by more than 80 knots. According to the SIC, during this critical portion of the approach to landing, the nonflying PIC remained focused on providing familiarization of the airport and city environment to the SIC, who was flying the airplane, and the PIC failed to monitor the airplane’s airspeed. After the SIC recognized the airplane’s excessive approach speed close to the runway environment, he attempted to slow the airplane. However, he inadvertently retarded the propeller levers and feathered the propellers instead of retarding the throttle levers. Recognizing the resultant loss of thrust, the PIC challenged the SIC’s actions and stated that both engines had experienced power loss. The airplane’s unfeathering accumulators had been removed; therefore, it was not possible for either pilot to quickly unfeather the propellers and reestablish engine power. Approaching the runway centerline at both low altitude and high airspeed and with the propellers feathered, the pilots were unable to slow the airplane and descend before overflying the runway. The airplane crossed the runway threshold at 300 feet and 186 knots (90 knots more than the approach speed of 96 knots), departed airport property, struck objects, and burst into flames.
Chairman Hersman and Member Rosekind did not approve this brief. Chairman Hersman filed a dissenting statement, which Member Rosekind joined. Member Rosekind filed a dissenting statement, which Chairman Hersman joined. Member Sumwalt filed a concurring statement, which Vice Chairman Hart and Member Weener joined. The statements can be found in the public docket for this accident.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The complete loss of thrust due to the second-in-command’s (SIC) inadvertent feathering of both propellers during a high-speed, low-altitude approach. Contributing to the accident was the pilot-in-command’s inadequate monitoring of the SIC’s performance.
Chairman Hersman and Member Rosekind did not approve this probable cause. Chairman Hersman filed a dissenting statement, which Member Rosekind joined. Member Rosekind filed a dissenting statement, which Chairman Hersman joined. Member Sumwalt filed a concurring statement, which Vice Chairman Hart and Member Weener joined. The statements can be found in the public docket for this accident.