Friday, March 18, 2016

Gulfstream G-IV, N121JM, SK Travel LLC: Fatal accident occurred May 31, 2014 in Bedford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts

Family of Hanscom crash victim files wrongful death lawsuit

The family of Lewis A. Katz, a philanthropist and co-owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer who was killed in a plane crash at Hanscom Field in Bedford in 2014, is suing the aircraft manufacturer and other parties in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston.

The wrongful death suit was filed Wednesday by Katz’s two children, who are also co-executors of his estate. Katz, 72, was among seven people killed when a Gulfstream G IV barreled off a runway at Hanscom on May 31, 2014.

Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. is one of eight defendants named in the complaint, which is seeking unspecified damages.

The eight defendants “caused the (crash) by their negligence and . . . by manufacturing and/or designing a defective product,” the complaint states.

A spokesman for Gulfstream declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The jet ran off the end of the runway, crashed into a wooded gully and exploded in flames, killing all seven people on board.

MassPort, the operator of Hanscom Field, is named as a defendant.

Matthew Brelis, a MassPort spokesman, said the crash was “a horrible tragedy for the seven families involved.”

He said the National Transportation Safety Board found the probable causes of the crash were “several errors by the flight crew and problems with the design of the aircraft, specifically the gust lock.”

In a report on the crash released last September, the NTSB criticized Gulfstream, along with the Federal Aviation Administration, for allowing the plane and others to operate without measures to prevent pilots from attempting to take off without disengaging the gust lock.

The NTSB also found the pilots neglected to check flight controls and missed an indicator that would have alerted them that the gust lock was on.

Also named in the suit are the estates of the two pilots, James McDowell, 51, of Georgetown, Del., and copilot Bauke “Mike” Devries, 45, of Marlton, N.J.

The complaint said McDowell and DeVries made several errors before the crash, including failing to disengage the gust lock before takeoff. The lock holds controls in place when a plane is parked, but can be dangerous if it is in place while an aircraft is moving at high speeds.

A pin manufactured by Rockwell Collins Inc. that secures the gust lock handle in the full on or off position was found to be substandard, the complaint said.

The other defendants are SK Travel, LLC, the owner of the aircraft; Arizin Ventures, LLC, which leased the plane; and Spiniello Companies, the pilots’ employer.

Original article can be found here:

NTSB Documents:

NTSB Identification: ERA14MA271
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 31, 2014 in Bedford, MA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/28/2015
Aircraft: GULFSTREAM AEROSPACE G IV, registration: N121JM
Injuries: 7 Fatal.

NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The Safety Board's full report is available at The Aircraft Accident Report number is NTSB/AAR-15/03.

On May 31, 2014, about 2140 eastern daylight time, a Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation G-IV, N121JM, registered to SK Travel, LLC, and operated by Arizin Ventures, LLC, crashed after it overran the end of runway 11 during a rejected takeoff at Laurence G. Hanscom Field, Bedford, Massachusetts. The airplane rolled through the paved overrun area and across a grassy area, collided with approach lights and a localizer antenna, passed through the airport's perimeter fence, and came to a stop in a ravine. The two pilots, a flight attendant, and four passengers died. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postcrash fire. The corporate flight, which was destined for Atlantic City International Airport, Atlantic City, New Jersey, was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. An instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
the flight crewmembers' failure to perform the flight control check before takeoff, their attempt to take off with the gust lock system engaged, and their delayed execution of a rejected takeoff after they became aware that the controls were locked. Contributing to the accident were the flight crew's habitual noncompliance with checklists, Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation's failure to ensure that the G-IV gust lock/throttle lever interlock system would prevent an attempted takeoff with the gust lock engaged, and the Federal Aviation Administration's failure to detect this inadequacy during the G-IV's certification.

Pilot Bauke “Mike” de Vries with the plane that crashed at Hanscom Field. 

 NTSB Senior Air Safety Investigator Luke Schiada speaks during a news conference at Hanscom Field in Bedford, Mass.,  June 2, 2014, regarding the investigation into  Gulfstream G-IV (N121JM) plane which plunged down an embankment and erupted in flames during a takeoff attempt there on May 31. Lewis Katz, co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper, and six other people died in the crash. 

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