Wednesday, March 21, 2007

2006 Citation crash at Carlsbad spawns lawsuits

airportEarly on the morning of January 24, 2006 a Cessna Citation 560, operated by JaxAir LLC, crashed on landing at McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, CA. The aircraft's two pilots and two passengers were killed in the accident. The aircraft was destroyed.

Five lawsuits related to the accident now have been filed, according to an article in the North County Times. The article says that the lawsuits include allegations that San Diego County allowed a structure near the end of the runway that violated federal regulations and created a dangerous condition that caused the crash. Two of the lawsuits, filed on behalf of the deceased passengers, allege that the accident was caused by "negligence in the way the airplane was operated."
Bruce Lampert, the attorney representing the family of the co-pilot who died in the crash, said the plane was engaging in a common practice known as a "go around," in which a pilot has the discretion for any reason during a landing to "power up," or take off again and go around before trying to land again.

Federal regulations specify what the clearance should be around the runway, Lampert said.

"We believe there was an obstruction on the airport runway, in the environment of the airport runway, that was improper," Lampert said.
The two pilots killed in the accident were John C. Francis of Boise, Idaho, and James A. "Andy" Garratt of Hailey, Idaho. The two passengers who perished were Janet Shafran of Ketchum, Idaho, and Frank H. Jellinek Jr., of Rye, N.H.
Lawsuits filed on behalf of Shafran's and Jellinek's families allege that the two passengers did not die instantly. Those lawsuits and the cases filed on behalf of Francis's and Garratt's families allege that each of the four people killed in the crash suffered injuries that included burns and smoke inhalation.

In separate lawsuits, Shafran's family and Jellinek's family are suing San Diego County, the estates of the pilot and co-pilot, the company that owned the plane, Goship Air LLC, and the company that operated the plane, Jaxair LLC.

Those two companies, Garratt's family and Francis' family are suing only the county. The lawsuit that Goship and Jaxair filed together March 5 against the county alleges that the plane was "fully capable of continued safe flight" during the attempted go-around procedure, but that the antenna and ladder structure "intruded upwards into the airspace at the departure end of the runway," causing the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has yet to issue a final report, but the preliminary report on this accident posted on the NTSB website indicates that the crew were executing a visual approach in visual meteorological conditions at the time of the accident on Runway 24 at McClellan-Palomar Airport. The aircraft impacted the localizer antenna platform during an apparent aborted landing.
According to numerous witnesses, the aircraft came across the runway threshold at a speed significantly higher than they had observed with other aircraft of the same or similar model.

It reportedly touched down more than 1,500 feet down the runway, whereupon the thrust reverses were deployed and then ultimately stowed. The aircraft then lifted off the surface near the departure end of the runway, but its landing gear impacted the localizer platform structure, and its left wing tip collided with a platform access ladder attached to the far left side of the platform.

The aircraft then traveled approximately 400 feet passed [sic] that point, whereupon it settled to the terrain, and then impacted much of the external surface of a 150 foot long commercial self-storage building.

Just after coming to rest at the west end of the storage building, the aircraft burst into flames, and except for the empennage and engines, was almost totally consumed by the ensuing fire. [NTSB Report SEA06MA047]
The attorney for the Shafran family commented that there did not appear to have been any problem with the airplane and that Francis was a well-qualified and highly recommended pilot.

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