Last lawsuit settled after 1996 GIV crash

 - October 27, 2008, 11:11 AM

After a dozen years, the litigation surrounding the fatal crash of a Gulfstream IV has finally been settled. The crash on takeoff at the former Palwaukee Municipal Airport (now Chicago Executive) northwest of Chicago on Oct. 30, 1996, killed pilots Martin Koppie, 53, and Robert Hampton Whitener, 50; flight attendant Christine Mio Anderson, 33; and the lone passenger, Arthur Quern, 54, CEO of Chicago-based Aon Risk Services and chairman of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

According to 1998 findings by the NTSB, Koppie lost control of the accelerating twinjet as it encountered crosswinds of up to 35 knots and veered off the airport’s narrow runway. N23AC then hit a 2.5-foot-deep drainage ditch located 20 feet off the runway, shearing off its landing gear, and the airplane slid across a taxiway at full power. It then struck a small berm, briefly becoming airborne before bursting into flames, finally coming to a halt past the airport’s northern fence in the parking lot of an apartment complex.

The NTSB report found that crew resource management played a role in the accident. According to the Safety Board, Koppie, a pilot for Aon, failed to abort the takeoff when he realized there was trouble, and copilot Whitener–who worked for the airplane owner, Alberto-Culver–failed to “adequately monitor and/or take sufficient remedial action.” As Aon and Alberto Culver had an interchange agreement in effect to lease each other’s GIV when its own was engaged, the NTSB also faulted the two companies for failing to address takeoff procedural differences. The proximity of the drainage ditch, which has since been removed, was a factor.

The settlement in Cook County Circuit Court means no further lawsuits can arise from this incident and includes a $6 million payout by the airport’s insurance company to cover part of the cost of the $28 million GIV. Published sources say the families of the four victims previously reached settlements or won jury verdicts.