Wife of Pilot in Chicago Fatal Plane Crash Sues 5 Companies

It is common for most individuals to assume that the pilot was responsible for a plane crash, but the truth is that there are myriad factors that can cause or contribute to an aviation accident. According to the widow of a pilot who died in a plane crash in 2015, at least five companies may be to blame for the mechanical failure that led to the death of her husband and six other people.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Ami Hileman filed a 22-count lawsuit last Wednesday in Cook County (Illinois) Circuit Court in which she blames five maintenance, repair, and manufacturing companies for the crash that killed her husband.

On April 7, 2015, Thomas Hileman was flying a Cessna 414A aircraft with six passengers as the group returned from the NCAA men’s basketball championship game in Indianapolis. The plane was set to land at Central Illinois Regional Airport (CIRA) in Bloomington, but a failure of the left engine and turbocharger caused the plane to crash at roughly 3:15 a.m. in a field in McLean County.

While the NTSB has released a 14-page interim summary report on the crash, this document only addresses conditions leading to the crash and does not reveal the probable cause of the crash. According to federal agents, the investigation into the crash is ongoing and there is no way to predict when it will be completed.

Certain details from the NTSB report issued April 6, 2017 do show that the plane was likely significantly overloaded on that night and that weather conditions were far from ideal. The Herald and Review reports that the NTSB document states, “Calculations estimated that at the time of the accident the airplane was 366 (pounds) over the maximum landing weight. If the loaded airplane results in a (center of gravity) that is aft (nearer to the plane’s rear) of the allowable limits, the airplane can become unstable and difficult to recover from an aerodynamic stall.” Additionally, CIRA has reported that just before the crash local weather conditions were poor, with rain and fog causing surface visibility to drop to only ½ mile.

Still, Ami Hileman believes that these factors were not responsible for the crash that killed her husband, who was reported to be free from fatigue and in good health. Also killed that night were Torrey Ward, Aaron Leetch, Scott Bittner, Andy Butler, Terry Stralow, and Jason Jones.

According to Hileman’s plane crash lawsuit, a number of firms should be held accountable for the left engine failure and turbocharger that prevented her husband from being able to “feather” the left engine propeller. Her claims of negligence and breach of warranties are based on the following allegations:

  • Synergy Flight Center and G&N Aircraft serviced the engine of the plan in 2013 and in 2014
  • Continental Motors built the left engine of the plane
  • RAM Aircraft installed that left engine in 2008
  • Aircraft Propeller Service did maintenance and repair work on the left propeller in 2010

Of course, it is entirely possible that pilot error can cause a plane crash. However, as this plane crash lawsuit filed by Ami Hileman shows, it is also possible that the negligence of aircraft maintenance and repair technicians and parts manufacturers could cause an aviation accident. When people suffer injury or the wrongful death of a loved one in a plane crash, our experienced attorneys work to fully investigate the incident so that we can hold all appropriate parties accountable. To learn more about how we work and our record of success, please contact us for a free legal consultation.

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