Crash Caused by Spacial Disorientation Results in General Aviation Lawsuit

Case Title: Hancock (Estate of David) v. MVAO, et. al

A Cessna 182H airplane, N8338S, crashed near Las Cruces, New Mexico, on October 12, 2017. The pilot and his student pilot were killed. The accident happened at night, and night visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The pilot had not filed a flight plan. The flight instructor held multiple certificates and ratings for airline transport, flight instructor, and commercial and flight engineer. He had over 32,000 hours of flight time in total. He worked for the Aero Flight Club of Las Cruces, Inc. and was informally known as “the mayor of the airport.” The student was a 67-year-old man. He had been married for 45 years and had two grown sons.

The pilot and his student had completed most of their training flight and were headed back to Las Cruces International Airport when the accident happened. The airplane’s altimeter indicated an altitude almost 3,700 higher than the actual ground elevation. However, due to the impact and subsequent fire, investigators could not determine whether the altimeter was functioning correctly during the flight. The area of the crash was very dark, with little lighting on the ground. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) ultimately concluded that the probable cause of the accident was a controlled flight into the terrain due to a lack of visual references and spatial disorientation. Slack Davis Sanger represented the family of the student pilot in his actions against the flight club and owner of the aircraft.

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.

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