Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Injured Tampa passengers sue estates of pilot, co-pilot who died in Dassault Falcon 50, N114TD crash: Marci Wilhelm and Steven Rose say Air America Flight Services and sister company Clearwater Aviation failed to ensure the operators were properly trained and certified

TAMPA — A Tampa couple injured in a September private jet crash in Greeneville, South Carolina, is suing the charter company they hired for the flight and the estates of the pilot and co-pilot, both of whom were killed.

Marci Wilhelm and husband Steven Rose claim Air America Flight Services failed to ensure that pilot John Christian Caswell and co-pilot Stephen George Fox were properly trained and certified to fly a Dassault Falcon 50 that ran off a runway after touching down at Greenville Downtown Airport on Sept. 27.

The jet plunged down a grassy embankment and came to rest on a road, splitting into two pieces behind the cockpit.

The suit filed November 30 in Hillsborough County claims Caswell and Fox were negligent in the operation of the jet, resulting in "severe, permanent injuries" for Wilhelm and Rose. The two were the only passengers on board.

Fox, who was 66 at the time of the crash and lived in Indian Rocks Beach, owned Air America Flight Services and a sister company named as a defendant in the suit, Account Management Group Inc., or AMG. The suit lists AMG as "formerly known as" Clearwater Aviation, Inc., which is based at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport.

AMG is apparently still doing business as Clearwater Aviation. Someone who answered a phone number listed for the company on Monday used the name, declined to comment and hung up.

Authorities identified Caswell, 49, of Port St. Lucie, as the pilot, but he had "second-in-command privileges only" for a Dassault Falcon 50 jet, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board. That means Caswell could only fly the Falcon 50 as a co-pilot with someone who has a pilot-in-command rating.

Fox did not have a pilot-in-command or second-in-command rating for the Falcon 50, according to the report. Fox was certified only for visual flight and didn’t have the rating required to fly an aircraft like the Falcon 50 under instrument flight rules.

The safety board report says the Sept. 27 flight originated from St. Pete-Clearwater International and was a "personal flight" operating under federal regulations governing such trips, and not a charter flight.

Wilhelm and Rose were hospitalized after the crash.

Attorneys listed for the couple were not immediately available for comment Monday.

A public photo posted on Wilhelm's Facebook page Oct. 19 shows her sitting on a hospital bed wearing braces on her leg and torso. Two other public photos posted last month show her scarred legs and face.

"My scars are closing up, the swelling is going down, my arms and core are getting stronger to compensate for the loss of the legs," Wilhelm wrote in a Nov. 16 post.

She wrote that she hopes to run a 10 kilometer race across the Sunshine Skyway in March.

"I’ve never done 10k before I had bionic legs and a bullet proof back, but I don’t want to miss the opportunity to do this race," she wrote.

Original article can be found here: https://www.tampabay.com

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov.

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Columbia, South Carolina
Honeywell; Phoenix, Arizona
Dassault Falcon Jet Corp.; New Castle, Delaware

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf


Location: Greenville, SC

Accident Number: ERA18FA264
Date & Time: 09/27/2018, 1346 EDT
Registration: N114TD
Aircraft: Dassault FALCON 50
Injuries: 2 Fatal, 2 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On September 27, 2018, about 1346 eastern daylight time, a Dassault Falcon 50 business jet, N114TD, operated by Air American Flight Services, Inc., was substantially damaged when it overran the departure end of runway 19 at Greenville Downtown Airport (GMU), Greenville, South Carolina. The airline transport pilot (ATP) seated in the left cockpit seat and private pilot seated in the right cockpit seat were fatally injured, and the two passengers received serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the flight that departed St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE), St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida, destined for GMU. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Air traffic control personnel at GMU reported that the airplane touched down "normally" at a normal touchdown point on runway. They saw the airplane's sole thrust reverser on the center (No. 2) engine deploy; the controllers then watched as the airplane "did not decelerate" as it continued down the runway. An airport security video captured the airplane's touchdown and confirmed that the No. 2 thrust reverser and the airbrakes were deployed. The video also showed the airplane as it continued down to the end of the runway and then went over an embankment.

First responders reported that all three engines were operating at full power for at least 20 minutes after the accident with, one engine running until about 40 minutes after the accident.

Initial examination of the accident site, runway, and tire track evidence showed that the airplane departed the left edge of runway 19 near the departure end, traveled across the flat grassy area at the end of the runway, continued down a 50-foot embankment, and came to rest on the airport perimeter road about 425 feet from the runway. The wreckage was oriented on a heading of about 160°. There was no fire. Fuel was observed leaking from the wings at the accident site. The nose landing gear was separated and found about midway down the embankment. The fuselage was separated immediately aft of the cockpit area, near fuselage station 14. The slats and flaps were extended. Both the right and left airbrakes (spoilers) were extended. Both main landing gear were fractured at the trunnion and displaced aft into the flaps. The braking anti-skid switch was in the No. 1 position, and there was an "INOP" (inoperative) placard next to the switch, dated the day of the accident. The Nos. 2 and 3 fire handles were pulled. The parking brake was in the normal (off) position.

The left seat pilot held an ATP certificate with a type rating for the Falcon 50 with a limitation for second-in-command only. He also held type ratings for Learjet and Westwind business jets. He held a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first-class medical certificate issued on August 7, 2108; at that time, he reported 11,650 total hours of flight experience.

The right seat pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single and multiengine land. He did not hold an instrument rating. He held a FAA second-class medical certificate issued on March 27, 2017,and on that date, he reported 5,500 total hours of flight experience.

At 1353, the recorded weather at GMU included wind from 210° at 6 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, temperature 27°C, dew point 22°C, and a barometric altimeter setting of 30.02 inches of mercury.

The airplane was retained for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Dassault

Registration: N114TD
Model/Series: FALCON 50 Undesignated
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Air America Flight Services INC
Operating Certificate(s) Held: On-demand Air Taxi (135) 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions

Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KGMU, 1048 ft msl
Observation Time: 1353 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 27°C / 22°C
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots / , 210°
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.02 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: St Petersburg-Clearwater, FL (PIE)
Destination:  Greenville, SC (GMU) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Fatal

Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 Serious
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal, 2 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 34.839444, -82.348611 (est)


  1. You can check it out and type the names of the party involved to get all the details...


  2. If a man has a functional brain, who lives in America, who knows it is a country where law suits are very common in any business if something happens, and knows that one needs to really cover his/her ass in every dimension to protect if something happens, why would the owner decide to fly the damn plane unqualified?

  3. That Marci person seems to have quite the legal trail.

    That aside I hope many state like Florida make everything public so you can at least check if your passengers litigate profusely.

    And why this kind of lawsuit happens in aviation and not when Joe six pack in his pickup hits your car broadside is because.... people think anything aviation related has more $$$?

    Just a wild guess I suppose.

    I personally fly solo or fellow pilots and only someone non aviation related if I know them a while. Let the airlines handle the plebes with their multi billion $$$ liability coverage.

  4. People are so ungrateful. A miracle made a husband and wife survive where 2 others died... and all we get is petty lawsuits to try to collect $$$.

    They should be happy they are alive. Spared. No major disability.

    This is obscene.

  5. “See you in court” is American motto. The surviving couple reportedly recently sold their home health care company for millions after billing Medicare and insurance companies for their services so they seem like a rags to riches couple with different last names who after selling their company made profitable on Medicare and gov asistance then started flying a jet like big shots and now are capable and healthy enough to run in a marathon. Suing the estates of the dead pilots is common because the pilots did a dumb thing holding themselves out to be safe and legal while conning the public. Until pilots and 135 companies stop violating rules and regulations like Carolinas Healthcare and Piedmont/Landmark/Sterling per lawsuit case number 05-CVS-19860 filed in Mecklenburg County NC Court alleges and until a FAA and DOT stop covering up 135 ops violations, nothing will change. FAA did telephone interview with one pilot flying Carolinas Healthcare planes but closed the case without ever looking at flight logs that proved the violations. FAA fired Safety Inspector Jeff Britt for trying to open investigation into Carolinas Healthcare. Robert Sumwalt at NTSB was personally handed a copy of the lawsuit at a Duke Energy Aviatiion Safety Seminar but said he and NTSB don’t get involved until a crash of hospital planes. Then immediately Robert walked onstage and gave a speech about another a 135 crash attributed to same pilot time and duty and fatigue rules violated at Carolinas Healthcare.

  6. I'm still surprised both pilots died. The cockpit has such little physical damage to it.

  7. Hey Davey ... I bet a nickel they weren't wearing a harness.

    To the law suite ... I know a few attorneys that are good guys ... And then a few that give the others a bad name ... I don't care for the latter group or for frivolous suites. I don't see this one as frivolous.

  8. Sounds like Robert did exactly what he was supposed to do to stay within the bounds of his job.

    Not sure what happened at the FSDO with the investigation but the FSDO is the venue for I for investigation of the alleged violations.

  9. I cannot believe how many pilots are beating up on these guys for suing. If I were them I would sue as well. As a pilot I would Never take command of an aircraft I was not qualified to fly unless under training circumstances.

    Accidents do happen and when it truly is an accident that is one thing. However the aircraft already had ABS Inop and neither pilot qualified to PIC this aircraft. That is no accident. That is reckless pursuit of money and nothing short.

    As a business owner I too have a history of lawsuits because you cannot stop someone from suing you. You can only defend yourself and I think the comment made by a previous poster is off base.

    I wish these guys the best in recovery. I hate like anything that the pilots died. Even doing something stupid does not change the fact that people lost family members.

  10. nothing frivolous about this lawsuit...the pilots, and the operators did everything wrong....

  11. I bet they are suing because there is no insurance. If you are too broke to do training, probably too broke to have insurance in place to cover passengers injuries.

  12. Part 135 operations require insurance. Go on a part 134.5 like here and you are bound to get hurt. Regulations are written in blood. But really instead of counting their blessings they are alive while 2 others are dead, they seek reparations from.the very families most hurt by this tragedy and the life insurances of the pilots that need to go to their kids instead. American greed.

  13. The "American greed" in this situation started with the 134.5 operator.


  14. The problem is the lawsuit will not produce any tangible goods. It is a case of "rent seeking" by an over zealous legal sector that doesn't improve society and just nickels and dimes a small community and industry and prevents so many young pilot or children from becoming pilots or be enticed to seek work in Aviation.
    This means that paradoxically the $$$ lawyers see are just a reflection of a capital poor sector plagued by low volumes and archaic production/manufacturing techniques and are just fake capital they seek to obtain whereas the damage done by such lawsuits is almost catastrophic to the whole of GA.
    Kinda like in East Germany the Trabant required something like 100k to make in labor alone but was really worth 5k as an end product. Likewise in General Aviation there is a lot of capital needed to make planes fly and disproportionately to the task but really none available to settle such many extracting lawsuits.
    They just push another nail in the coffin. No one wins, and whatever money this couple will get will be at the expense of pilots and those pursuing the dream if flying.
    Until only the military and big commercial jets are the only thing in the skies.