Slack & Davis Speaks Out About Cessna Caravan Air Crash


Slack & Davis attorney and Cessna Caravan expert Ladd Sanger was quoted in two Columbus Dispatch (Ohio) reports pertaining to a December 5, 2007, Cessna Caravan air crash.

Plane in fatal crash near Rickenbacker known for icing problems
Thursday, December 6, 2007
By Randy Ludlow
The Columbus Dispatch

The model of plane that crashed in a snow squall shortly after takeoff from Rickenbacker International Airport is prone to problems in icy weather, according to federal officials.

A pilot and his passenger were killed Wednesday when their Cessna Caravan 208 went down about a mile from the end of the runway.

The aircraft is susceptible to ice buildup that can compromise flight-control surfaces and make it difficult to maintain enough speed to stay in the sky.

An investigation of the crash by the National Transportation Safety Board will include an examination of icing conditions, a spokesman said.

It was 30 degrees and snowing at 6:55 a.m. when the flight chartered by cargo carrier AirNet Systems of Columbus left for Buffalo, N.Y.

“We’ll look into icing reports and conditions,” agency spokesman Peter Knudson said. “We always look at the man, machine and environment.”

At least 33 people died in a dozen icing-related accidents in the Cessna Caravan between 1990 and 2005, according to federal figures.

Officials of Cessna Aircraft of Wichita, Kan., did not respond to telephone calls or an e-mail seeking comment.

The Federal Aviation Administration last year required a warning placard in Caravan cockpits stating “continued flight after encountering moderate or greater icing conditions is prohibited.”

The FAA also required the installation of low-speed warning equipment and cautioned that the plane’s stall-warning system does not always work in icing conditions.

Before that directive was issued, the FAA also required a hands-on examination of aircraft surfaces for ice buildup before takeoff.

James A. Babcock, 58, of Wooster, Ohio, a pilot for Castle Aviation, and Michael B. Bratek, 34, of Blasdell, N.Y., an AirNet pilot flying as a passenger, were killed in the crash in northern Pickaway County.

An official of Castle Aviation, which operated the Caravan, said yesterday that the North Canton company will have no comment on the accident.

“Cessna and the FAA have known for years that the Caravan as designed is deadly when the aircraft encounters icing conditions,” said Ladd Sanger, a pilot and Austin, Texas, lawyer involved in lawsuits over Caravan crashes.

Cessna’s de-icing system on the single-engine plane is “fatally flawed,” Sanger said.

Icing is being investigated as a possible cause of a Caravan accident on Oct. 7 in which nine skydivers and a pilot died when the plane went down near White Pass, Wash.

The plane can be set up for passengers or cargo.

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Plane had been de-iced before fatal crash
Preliminary report doesn’t list cause of wreck in snow
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
By Mary Beth Lane
The Columbus Dispatch

A single-engine plane that crashed after takeoff in a snow squall and killed two pilots near Rickenbacker Airport had been de-iced before it took off, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The preliminary report does not establish a cause of the crash. The final report won’t be issued for another 12 to 18 months, after the investigation is completed, agency spokeswoman Bridget Serchak said yesterday.

The preliminary report says that the wings and tail of the Cessna Caravan 208 were de-iced with about 160 gallons of de-icing fluid at 6:44 a.m. A witness reported the propeller did not require de-icing. The plane received takeoff clearance at 6:48 and departed two minutes later.

Then, 45 seconds into its takeoff climb, the plane crashed a mile southeast of the airport. Radar indicated that the plane climbed to about 1,100 feet and was in a left turn.

The debris field was about 592 feet long and 100 feet wide. A ground scar that showed two wheel imprints in the soft soil marked the initial impact point. The nose gear and left main landing gear were sheared off and found nearby.

A second ground scar was about 470 feet from the initial impact point. The outboard section of the left wing was found nearby.

The main body of the wreckage came to rest upside down. There was no fire.

Ladd Sanger, a Dallas-based pilot and lawyer whose firm has been involved in lawsuits stemming from other Cessna Caravan crashes, read the preliminary report yesterday and said the plane’s speed of 109 knots was a “red flag” for ice build-up, even after prior de-icing. Anything below 120 knots can lead to ice build-up on unprotected parts of the airplane, he said.

He added that he could not conclude that the crash was ice-related, but noted that Cessna Caravans have “an incredibly bad track record” of crashes related to icing.

But Cessna spokesman Doug Oliver said, “Any speculation at this point is way premature.”

The plane, scheduled for a five-leg cargo trip, was leaving Rickenbacker for Buffalo Niagara International Airport in Buffalo, N.Y., when it crashed.

The crash killed James A. Babcock, 58, of Wooster, a pilot for Castle Aviation Inc. of North Canton, and Michael Benton Bratek, 34, a pilot for Columbus-based shipper AirNet Systems who was aboard as a passenger, apparently heading to his home in a Buffalo suburb.