NTSB and Courts Disagree on Accident Responsibility

 - July 1, 2013, 3:00 PM
Piper Pawnee similar to the accident aircraft.

A Broward County, Fla. jury has returned a $100 million verdict in favor of a 31-year-old pilot who was severely and permanently injured on Nov. 10, 2007, when the Piper Pawnee he had been flying on a banner-tow mission crashed on approach to North Perry Airport, Hollywood, Fla. (KHWO). The jury found the North Perry contract tower controller 68 percent responsible for having issued the pilot a nonstandard traffic-pattern entry and the pilot 32 percent responsible, despite the NTSB’s final report listing the probable cause as “the pilot’s failure to maintain adequate airspeed, resulting in an aerodynamic stall.” The board did say, “Contributing to the accident was an inoperative stall-warning system and an erroneous airspeed indicator,” that caused the indicator to read as much as eight knots higher than actual. Approaching HWO from the northwest, the 400-hour pilot was instructed to fly south between Runway 1L and 1R–the airport operates two parallel runways–and make a left turn to land on 1R. The Pawnee crashed just south of the airport on the turn from base to final. Todd Payne, an attorney and pilot who assisted the plaintiff’s legal team, told AIN, “It’s often a knee-jerk response to label accidents pilot error. The tower controller issued nonstandard landing instructions not approved by the FAA.” AIN could not confirm this. “There was only one controller in the tower, when there should have been two. The jury didn’t buy it…that ATC had no responsibility in this accident.” When Payne was asked whether the accident would have been avoided had the pilot flown right traffic to 1R, he responded, “That question was not raised during the trial.”

 

Comments

nygard1's picture

This so-called attorney and pilot should have his license to practice and his license to fly revoked. 80-mph Pawnees do not crash because they fly non-standard approaches and they do not crash because there is one vs. two controllers in the tower. They fall out of the sky when they run out of air speed at low altitude - most airplanes do.

Have these idiot jurors and this idiot attorney ever heard of crop-dusting?? Most crop dusters would prefer to land where there are ZERO controllers in the tower.

Larry Walters's picture

A jury of his peers would have found him 100% at fault for stalling the plane on his own. As an Instructor I regularly cover all instruments and ask my students to land the aircraft. This exercises your kinesthetic muscles.

400 hour pilot flying a banner? Wonder what his insurance rate was?

What was that lawyers number?

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