Improper Inspection and Maintenance Results in General Aviation Lawsuit

Case Title: Sable v. Northstar Aviation

On October 18, 2012, a Cessna 182P, N20939, crashed near Yucca, Arizona. The private pilot/owner was killed, and the crash and post-crash fire substantially damaged the plane. The flight left Lake Havasu City, Arizona, destined for Eagle Airpark in Fort Mohave in Arizona. The incident flight was the first to occur after the plane’s annual inspection. A witness at the airport talked with the pilot about the work completed as he walked with the pilot to the aircraft. The witness stated that the pilot checked the fuel level before departing and stated that there was adequate fuel for his flight. The witness then watched as the pilot took off. A different witness driving on nearby Interstate Highway 40 watched the plane fly into the high peak of a mountain and burst into flames.

NTSB Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) could not determine a cause for the pilot’s evident failure to avoid the mountainside. They could not find all the airplane parts, including the fuel selector valve. The flap cable appeared splayed at the right wing root. While a Cessna representative stated that it indicated that the flaps were up, an investigation by Slack Davis Sanger discovered that parts of the cable were missing. Ladd Sanger’s thorough knowledge of airplane systems allowed him to determine that the nut and washer must have been loose or missing at the time of the annual inspection and were not replaced. This improper installation caused the accident that killed the pilot. Slack Davis Sanger represented the pilot’s estate and surviving family, securing a settlement for the negligence of the company that performed the inspection and work just before the crash.

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.

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