Legal Shrapnel

 - April 16, 2008, 6:21 AM

Gary Robb, an attorney with Robb & Robb of Kansas City, Mo., filed a wrongful death suit on behalf of the families of the deceased. It names Cessna Aircraft; Textron, Cessna’s parent company; Parker Hannifin; Sigma Tek; and Aeroflite, the maintenance provider. The defendants maintain that Randy Carnahan’s negligence led to the crash.

“The critical flight instrument failed,” Robb said in a published statement. “The failure of the primary attitude indicator was cited as a contributing cause of the accident. The report cites Carnahan’s extensive training in the aircraft and confirms that he ‘had been known to cancel trips when the weather conditions were unfavorable.’ The NTSB’s final report confirms his excellent training and skills as a pilot and his reputation for safety.”

According to the report, Carnahan told controllers that he was having “problems with [his] primary attitude indicator” early in the flight. The report also cites Carnahan’s spatial disorientation as a factor that was, in turn, caused by the instrument failure. “You can’t blame a car driver for not stopping when the brakes fail,” Robb maintained.

The report found that the copilot’s (right side) attitude indicator was difficult to see, such that he had to make frequent rapid head movements to maintain control of the airplane. These movements are thought to have caused the pilot’s hypothesized spatial disorientation, “a well recognized hazard that interferes with the pilot’s ability to maintain control of the airplane.”