Pilots Negligence in Following Established Procedures Results in Commercial Airplane Crash Lawsuit

American Connection 5966

On October 19, 2004, American Connections Corporate Airlines flight 5966 with registration number N875JX, crashed on final approach to the runway at Kirksville Regional Airport in Kirksville, Missouri. The flight was a scheduled passenger flight from St. Louis, Missouri. Both pilots and eleven of the thirteen passengers were killed. The remaining two passengers suffered serious injuries. The airplane was destroyed in the accident and the post-crash fire. The flight operated on an instrument flight rules plan, and night instrument meteorological conditions were prevalent at the time of the incident.

The captain held an airline transport pilot certificate with a multi-engine land rating. He had over 4,000 flight hours total, with 2,510 flight hours in the BAE-J3201 airplane that crashed in this accident. The first officer held commercial and flight instructor certificates with multi-engine land and instrument ratings. He had a total flight time of 2,856 hours, with 107 hours on the BAE-J3201.

When the flight was a little more than twenty minutes from the airport, the pilots listened to the ASOS weather information, which indicated low visibility, mist, and overcast clouds. The pilot immediately expressed concern about landing because the plane did not have an Instrument Landing System. As they continued to descend, the weather conditions worsened, causing the pilots to try to give themselves a longer approach. Ultimately, they moved so low that they ran into trees and crashed below.

NTSB Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the pilots were at the very edge of their duty hour limits and that fatigue from their sixth flight of the day may have played a role. In addition, they did not observe proper procedures regarding conversations during landing and were, instead, joking about co-workers even as the plane’s warning system was alerting them to their rapid approach to the ground. The NTSB also determined that the pilots were looking for external visual references to help them land the plane rather than relying on their instruments. In this and several other instances, the pilots failed to follow the established procedures for a non-precision instrument approach at night. They also found that the plane needed an enhanced ground proximity warning system and that having one would have helped the pilots avoid this accident.

Slack Davis Sanger represented one of the two surviving passengers. The passengers on the plane were physicians and other medical professionals en route to a conference at the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. Our client suffered burns to her hands, arm and legs, a compound fracture to her upper right arm, and a severe laceration to her leg. In addition, she suffered trauma due to being one of the only survivors to escape the burning wreckage. Slack Davis Sanger secured a settlement to pay for her medical bills and ensure her future security.

Mike Slack has been practicing law for over 36 years and has litigated hundreds of lawsuits. His experience as a licensed pilot and former NASA aerospace engineer gives him unique insight into aviation accident lawsuits.

Ladd Sanger is an attorney and a licensed pilot who focuses on aviation accidents, including product liability, product litigation, and representing clients who have been injured as a result of aviation accidents. His experience as a pilot helps him understand the technical aspects of aviation crashes.

Date of Incident

October 19, 2004

Location of Incident

Kirksville, Missouri

Represented By:

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