Earlier this week, federal investigators met to issue a final ruling on the cause of a plane crash that killed nine people last year in Akron, Ohio. What they revealed is that it was not one single factor which caused this wreck, but rather a “litany of failures” which combined to possibly doom the flight before the plane even left the ground.
On November 10, 2015, all seven passengers and two pilots aboard the Hawker 700A died when the plane crashed into an apartment building about two miles from the runway in Akron. The flight had come from Dayton, and was chartered through ExecuFlight LLC, a company based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The seven passengers were all employees of a Florida real estate development company called Pebb Enterprises and were on a six-day trip to scout properties throughout the Midwest. The Sun-Sentinel reports that Akron was to be the last stop on this trip before the team headed home to South Florida.
The passengers killed in this crash were Jared Weiner, 35; Ori Rom, 32; Diane Smoot, 50; Diana Suriel, 32; Nick Weaver, 36; Gary Shapiro, 35; and Thomas Jay Virgin, 31. The pilot, Oscar Andres Chavez Mosquera, 40, and co-pilot Renato Marchese, 50, also died.
Now, just short of the first anniversary of this tragic crash, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators have revealed the many errors which contributed to the wreck. According to Bloomberg, NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart said at a meeting in Washington, “The pilots’ failures ‘read like pages from a basic text for preventing accidents derived from a long history of accidents in aviation. Yet these procedures and the accident lessons they represent were ignored.’” The NTSB also found that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors responsible for the safe operation of the plane as well as ExecuFlight were also negligent in more than one count.
While lax policies by ExecuFlight and oversight by FAA inspectors contributed to the deadly crash, investigators say the majority of the blame rests on the pilots. The crew failed to complete check lists as they approached the Akron airport. They also used the wrong wing flap settings, causing the plane to fly too slowly to maintain altitude. The crew failed to communicate with air traffic controllers or each other according to company policy, nor did they comply with company and federal policies dictating the landing should have been aborted in light of speed and altitude problems. Furthermore, the pilot of the plain may have had time to avert disaster had he reacted quickly enough after noting that the co-pilot was flying too slowly.
When the investigators looked into the pilots’ histories, they learned that both the pilot and the co-pilot had been fired from previous jobs for poor performance. When Captain Oscar Andres Chavez Mosquera was hired by ExecuFlight, he failed a test on cockpit procedures and safety—but the company opted to report that he got a perfect score and let him fly rather than insisting on more training. According to NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt, the company “was infested with sloppiness.” He went on to state, “ExecuFlight’s casual attitude toward compliance with standards illustrates a disregard for operational safety, an attitude that likely led its pilots to believe that strict adherence was not required.”
Sadly, a Bloomberg investigation into corporate flights last year showed that the plane charter industry is rife with negligence and that ExecuFlight is not out of the norm. Since the crash, at least seven plane crash lawsuits have been filed against ExecuFlight, and it is likely that the significant evidence in support of claims that the company was negligent will bode well for these plaintiffs.
If you have suffered injury or the loss of a loved one due to the crash of a chartered plane, you may have grounds to pursue justice and compensation through an aviation accident lawsuit. To learn more, please contact our experienced plane crash attorneys for a free consultation.