Estate of Henry Jackson v. Fredericksburg Aviation

On May 16, 2016, a Beechcraft Bonanza A36TC with registration number N60RW departed from Tupelo Regional Airport in Tupelo, MS, in route to the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport in Virginia. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. Shortly after departure, the pilot stated that there was smoke in the cockpit and that the aircraft needed to return to the airport. Tragically, the plane was unable to make it back to the airport and crashed in a wooded area about a half-mile north of the Tupelo Regional Airport runway. The pilot and three passengers were killed in the crash.

Witnesses on the ground saw something fall from the airplane as it took off. As the plane attempted to return to the airport, witnesses reported seeing fire and smoke coming from the bottom left side of the airplane. Airport personnel found the plane’s exhaust tailpipe and a fractured v-band coupling on the runway. The post-crash investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) stated that there was a stress rupture at the edge of a spot weld that attached the v-band coupling, which led to it fracturing, the exhaust tailpipe falling and the in-flight fire. Maintenance records did not show when the v-band coupling was installed or last inspected.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued multiple airworthiness directives and other recommendations due to a long history of problems with v-band couplings on aircraft, although none of them were for the particular make and model of airplane involved in this crash. After this accident, the FAA published notice of a proposed rule that would require annual inspection of and a life limit on the exhaust tailpipe v-band coupling on the Beechcraft Bonanza.

The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate and a flight instructor certificate with single and multi-engine land and instrument airplane ratings. The pilot reported over 5,500 total flight hours.

Slack Davis Sanger represents the estate and family of the pilot in this ongoing matter.

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