Lawyer Bob Buckingham will be filing a class-action lawsuit this week, on behalf of a group of passengers on board Flight AC7804, which crash-landed in Gander April 19.
Some passengers who were on a flight that crash landed at Gander International Airport last month are heading to court.
The Air Canada Express Flight AC7804, being operated by Exploits Valley Air Services (EVAS), crash landed during an April snowstorm, breaking off its front landing gear.
Frank Sheppard, one of the passengers on board the flight, says life has been "strange" since the crash.
"Went to bed [last night] and around 1 o'clock I jumped right out of bed and said geez I didn't crash again, did I?" he told CBC's Central Morning Show.
"It's on the mind."
Sheppard was one of 14 passengers and two crew members who were on the Beechcraft 1900 from Happy Valley-Goose Bay that hit the runway hard in Gander April 19 around 9:30 p.m.
While no one was seriously injured in the crash, three passengers were taken to hospital for observation.
Sheppard said he wasn't seriously physically hurt, but he thinks the crash has caused some other problems.
"Not injured I suppose, but I had soft tissue injuries and that … I can't sleep. I sleep for an hour or so and then I get up and wander around and watch TV and stuff like that," he said.
"I can't get a good night's sleep. That's new."
The crash is something he thinks about every day. Sheppard travels to work in Labrador City, and said he's not sure what it will be like Wednesday when he has to get on his first flight since the crash landing.
"I got to fly again, but I don't know how I'm going to do it," he said.
Sheppard said it isn't just the stress following the crash that has him worried.
The crew and passengers said they had to wait 20 minutes on the tarmac in blizzard conditions before any response from the airport arrived — a response Sheppard said "was very poor."
"For a crew and the passengers to wait for 20 minutes or more on the tarmac in them conditions, it should never have happened," said Sheppard.
"They should have been there before that. And of course when they came to the scene of the incident, there was no ambulance came at all."
For its part, the Gander International Airport Authority said while the response time could have been faster, it was "as good as it can get," adding the poor weather conditions were a factor.
Sheppard is just one of the group of passengers who have now taken legal action, hiring St. John's-based lawyer Bob Buckingham to launch a class-action lawsuit this week.
Buckingham said the case has taken over his practice, as they prepare to move forward.
"We'll be naming Air Canada, we'll be naming EVAS, we'll be naming Nav Canada, we'll be naming the airport and we would name the pilot and the co-pilot as employees of EVAS. That's essentially who we'll be going after," said Buckingham.
Air Canada has not yet responded to CBC's request for comment. EVAS referred questions on the crash to Air Canada.
According to Buckingham, Air Canada has already paid each of the passengers a gratuitous payment of $5,000 each, but added "they're not admitting liability."
He added the crash could have indeed been worse, but the passengers on board are entitled to answers.
"Luckily in this case there was no one killed … but each and every one of the people who I've spoken to have had a tremendous traumatic experience and we'll be claiming for that, and we'll be looking at what their long-term circumstances from the situation are going to be."
Buckingham added he's hopeful the Transportation Safety Board investigation into the crash will hopefully shed some light on the decisions that were made.
"Hopefully it will be addressed by the [TSB], what happened here in terms of one, the decision to land, and secondly, the tremendous amount of time, the inordinate amount of time, that it took the emergency rescue units to get there. It's inexcusable from my analysis of the situation."
Meanwhile, another passenger, who was seriously concussed in the crash, has engaged his own lawyer and is also suing the airline.
“There’s been some questions about how quickly we attended to the passengers…” he told The Beacon. “I reviewed all of the information today. The crash alarm sounded at emergency response center at 9:27 p.m. and the passengers were all in the terminal just after 10 p.m.”
Given the fact a winter storm was hitting the area at the time of the crash, the response was hampered by the conditions, said Wright.
“The big issue with the time was you had strong northwesterly winds gusting upwards of 52 knots and poor visibility, so there was only so fast we could get to the aircraft,” he said. “When you do that, the first thing you have to do is get a response posture in front of the disabled aircraft and then assess it for leaking fuel or fire. Once you’ve done that, responders can check out the passengers and ensure the aircraft is completely vacated.”
According to Wright, the airport’s emergency response team quickly sprung into action once the alarm was sounded.
“When you first get word there’s been an incident, because the visibility was so restricted you actually have to find it first,” he said. “I mean, we were out of the firehall in 30 seconds, but you have to approach it with some caution because of the visibility. There may be someone on the runway, so you can’t speed to the scene. We threw as many resources as we had available at it given the circumstances, so I’m pretty pleased with how the team responded.”
Overall, Wright said the airport’s emergency response team did their jobs properly and it’s unfortunate the conditions that night didn’t allow a quicker response time.
“I think our first response time was quite good,” he said. “I do wish that we were able to get the passengers out of the elements quicker, but having said that, there are constraints on what you can do and how quickly. The location is three kilometres from the terminal building, so it’s no quick commute.”
Investigators from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada were continuing its field investigation in Gander today, and Wright expects the runway will be operational Friday.
Original article can be found here: http://www.ganderbeacon.ca