FlightSafety International Inc. v. Dallas Airmotive, Inc.

On October 30, 2014, a Beechcraft King Air B200 airplane with registration number N52SZ, crashed into the FlightSafety International building as it attempted a takeoff from Wichita Mid-Continent Airport in Wichita, Kansas. The only occupant of the airplane was the pilot, who was killed in the crash. In addition, three occupants of the building were killed, while two sustained serious injuries and four sustained minor injuries. The destination of the flight was Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport in Mena, Arizona. Visual meteorological conditions existed, and the pilot filed an instrument flight rules flight plan.

The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single and multi-engine land. His logbook was not located, but training records from the month before the accident reported over 3,100 total flight hours, most of which were in multi-engine airplanes. Maintenance had been performed on the plane eight days before the accident. The work done included an inspection of the left and right engine hot-section and an overhaul of the right propeller. Tests done after the maintenance showed that both engines were able to achieve maximum power, although one engine was operating more efficiently than the other.

FlightSafety International is a provider of aviation training; their Kansas training facility housed many types of flight simulators for flight instruction and facilities for airplane maintenance. On the morning of October 30th, the pilot was cleared for takeoff from the nearby Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. Just after becoming airborne, the pilot declared an emergency and stated that the airplane “lost the left engine.” As the pilot turned left, it crashed into the Flightsafety International building. There was an explosion, and the building caught on fire.

The National Transportation Safety Board post-crash investigation showed no anomalies in the airplane, but investigators admitted that the airplane could have suffered sudden engine power loss or rudder problems. They determined the probable cause of the accident was the pilot’s failure to maintain control of the airplane after power loss or reduction in the left engine and incorrect usage of the rudder. An element which may have contributed to the accident was the pilot’s failure to follow emergency procedures for an engine failure. The propeller associated with the malfunctioning engine should be feathered, and the landing gear retracted for an engine failure during takeoff. Neither of these things were done. It was also found that the pilot was using medication to treat anxiety and depression and that information had not been reported to the Federal Aviation Administration, although the NTSB did not think it contributed to the accident.

Slack Davis Sanger represented FlightSafety International in its economic losses due to the crash. In addition to suffering the tragedy of the fatalities and injuries of employees and patrons of the company, several very expensive flight simulators were destroyed, and several more were damaged by smoke and fire. The building also suffered extensive damage, and it was eventually torn down. Slack Davis Sanger secured a settlement for FlightSafety, enabling the company to recover from the damages they suffered.

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