PHILADELPHIA (CN) - Four people died screaming when a Cessna flying out of Michigan lost power and crashed, the families of two passengers claim in court.
The May 4 complaint against Avco Corp., Lycoming Engines and other manufacturers involves a flight that took off from Oakland County International Airport on June 21, 2013.
When the plane was just a couple of hundred feet off the ground, it began suffering a power loss and "never recovered sufficient power to continue the flight," according to the complaint in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
The plane ultimately crashed into the ground and caught fire, killing Sandra Haley, 53, Jamie Jose, 35 and two others.
Haley's and Jose's families filed the May 4 complaint, which goes into minute detail that the terror these passengers endured in their final moments.
Jose, the father of three minor children, "suffered multiple skull fractures," among other injuries, and died in the crash, according to the complaint.
Haley made it to the hospital with burns to 65 percent of her body but was pronounced dead within hours, her mother says.
"She was heard screaming after the plane crashed and exploded," the complaint states.
The families say Pennsylvania-based Avco and its subsidiaries, Lycoming Engines and Avco Lycoming-Textron Williamsport, fraudulently concealed loose screws, crush-prone gaskets and a defective float system on their Lycoming O-320-E2D engine. Avstar Fuel Systems, a parts manufacturer for Lycoming engines, is also names as a defendant, as is D&G Design, the repair station "responsible for the airworthiness of the accident carburetor for use in the" engine that failed during Haley and Jose's flight.
Haley and Jose's families say these companies knew that the engine and its carburetor had a long history of malfunctions prior to this crash, but concealed this knowledge from the Federal Aviation Association and other aircraft regulatory authorities during and after the engine's certification process.
In particular, the defendants allegedly knew or should have known that crush-prone carburetor gaskets could result in an engine being unable to generate power.
The defendants also allegedly failed to provide adequate safety warnings or maintenance instructions to aircraft engine owners, including the owner of the Cessna aircraft involved in the fatal accident, according to the complaint.
Though the defendants overhauled the accident aircraft's engine in 2008, they failed to fix the defects they knew were present, the families say.
The families seek punitive damages for negligence, recklessness, strict product liability, fraud, and breach of implied and express warranties.
They are represented by Cynthia Devers of the Philadelphia-based Wolk Law Firm.
Courthouse News Service: http://www.courthousenews.com
NTSB Identification: CEN13FA364
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, June 21, 2013 in Waterford, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/10/2014
Aircraft: CESSNA 172M, registration: N9926Q
Injuries: 4 Fatal.
NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
Air traffic control tower personnel saw the airplane lift off the runway and attain an altitude of about 100 feet. A pilot approaching the runway for landing saw the airplane lift off and noticed it was not climbing. He saw the airplane "lagging" and "wallowing in the air with flaps extended." Shortly after, the accident pilot advised an air traffic controller that he was "a little overweight" and would need to return to the airport and land. The air traffic controller cleared the airplane to land on the parallel runway or the grass area surrounding the runways. The pilot did not respond. Several witnesses near the airport, including the pilot in the landing airplane, saw the accident airplane impact the ground and burst into flames. A postaccident examination revealed that the wing flaps were fully extended (40 degrees). Weight and balance calculations indicated the airplane was slightly under maximum gross weight. Postaccident examinations revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.
The pilot received his private pilot certificate almost 2 months before the accident and had flown a Cirrus SR20 almost exclusively. He reportedly had flown the Cessna 172, the accident airplane make and model, for a few hours, but this report could not be confirmed. Cirrus SR20 takeoffs are normally made using 50 percent flaps, whereas Cessna 172M takeoffs are normally made with the flaps up. The pilot most likely configured the airplane incorrectly for takeoff and the airplane was unable to climb due to his lack of familiarity with the airplane make and model.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to retract the wing flaps before attempting to take off, due to his lack of familiarity with the airplane make and model, which prevented the airplane from maintaining adequate altitude for takeoff.
Troy Brothers, his mother, Sandra Haley and his stepfather, James Haley
Courtesy of Northfield Township Fire Department