Lawsuit Pins Blame For 2005 Accident On FAA
Attorney Suing Agency For $10 Million
The past seven days have seen three rulings placing responsibility for fatal aircraft accidents at least partly on the shoulders of air traffic controllers, and the FAA. Now, an attorney is suing the FAA for the loss of three people in a 2004 accident near Pikeville, KY, claiming the actions of an air traffic controller were to blame for the fatal crash.
According to the NTSB Probable Cause report, a Beechcraft A36 carrying three persons impacted terrain while on approach to land at Pikeville Airport (PBX) October 7, 2005 in low IFR conditions. The aircraft went down about a mile from the runway, to the left of the approach course to land on runway 27.
Witnesses on the ground reported ceilings of 200-300 feet AGL at the time of the accident – right at decision height for the approach. Lost in the accident were pilot Herman Lester, his wife, Julie and their son, Max.
The NTSB ruled poor weather conditions and pilot error were the probable causes of the accident… but attorney Mike DeBourbon says there’s more to the story.
DeBourbon – who is also PBX Airport Board Chairman – alleges the air traffic controller handling the Beech’s approach to the uncontrolled airport brought the plane in too close to the field for a safe precision approach.
“They brought the aircraft in too early and too high. That placed the pilot in a situation where he could not land into Pikeville safely,” DeBourbon told WKYT-27.
He is suing the FAA for $10 million, and says if he wins the money will go to the family’s living relatives.
DeBourbon says he listened to recordings of Herman Lester’s conversations with the controller handling his flight, and they show the controller gave the pilot incorrect information.
“It’s not a dangerous situation,” DeBourbon told the television station, of reports of fog and rain at the time of the accident. "It only becomes dangerous if you place someone in a hurry.
“They brought the aircraft in too early and too high. That placed the pilot in a situation where he could not land into Pikeville safely,” he added. “Had he not done that, I think the pilot could have made the landing into Pikeville.”
FAA officials said they could not comment on pending litigation.
I wonder if FA staff can pull this track up so that we FA’rs can give our take on the accident?