Trial set for Challenger lawsuit

 - April 21, 2008, 11:38 AM

The case of Kittredge Aviation & David Wetherell v. Bombardier Aerospace, Bombardier, Inc. and General Electric has been slated for an April 2003 trial, according to David Bunis, partner, Dwyer & Collora, LLP, who represents the plaintiffs. “Bombardier and GE have produced many relevant documents to the case and we’re moving forward,” Bunis told AIN.

Wetherell purchased a new Challenger 604 from Bombardier to be operated by Kittredge Aviation for his personal use. Not long after he took possession, the aircraft experienced engine malfunctions on two separate flights, both of which required the pilots to shut down one of the engines. Wetherell was on board both flights, which took place only five weeks apart. On April 11, 2001, the Challenger experienced its first engine malfunction while Wetherell was resting in the back of the aircraft. Awakened by the EICAS alarm and the sound of the engine spooling down, Wetherell said he was startled both by the engine problem and the fact they were over the Atlantic Ocean at least 300 miles from the nearest airport. The second incident occurred on May 11, 2001, while both Wetherell and his 12-year-old son were on board. In both cases the aircraft landed safely. Not reassured by the explanations from engine manufacturer GE Aircraft Engines and Bombardier, Wetherell lost faith in the aircraft and wanted to return it to Bombardier for a refund. The company refused.

According to a spokesman for GE Aircraft Engines, “The rate of inflight shutdowns for that engine is 0.009 per 1,000 engine flight hours, meaning an engine would statistically be shut down once in 30 to 40 years. It is simply a statistical anomaly,” he told AIN.

A Bombardier Aerospace spokesman didn’t want to comment on the case but told AIN, “The whole [Challenger 604] fleet has more than two million flying hours with a dispatch reliability of 99.6 percent. We obviously have a very low incident rate on that aircraft.”

The plaintiff seeks to return the aircraft for a full refund of the $22.26 million and consequential damages for emotional distress and incurred expenses.