USA Today: NTSB falling short on general aviation investigations

Print
Email
|

by KING 5 / USA TODAY

khou.com

Posted on June 18, 2014 at 9:23 AM

Attorney Robert Hedrick can point to the sentence where he knew there was more to the plane crash that killed Brenda Houston in 2008.

Buried in the National Transportation Safety Board report is a reference to gasoline flooding the float that adjusts how much fuel flows into the engine.  The float was "completely filled."

"That where our work began in that case, and we uncovered a whole history of similar failures," said Hedrick.

Houston, her 10-year-old daughter and another man died when the plane she was piloting crashed in Skagit County.  An NTSB investigation determined Houston was at fault.

However, Hedrick sued the manufacturers of a part on the plane that regulates fuel flow and won a settlement, proving in court the engine in Houston's plane cut out because it was getting too much fuel.

Reversing the finding of an NTSB investigation happens frequently, according to an analysis by USA Today, a news partner of KING 5.

While 86% of all general aviation crashes are blamed on pilots by the NTSB, lawsuits have led to more than $1 billion in settlements from part manufacturers, USA Today reported.  Read their full story here.

Hedrick believes the NTSB is too understaffed to handle all the small aircraft accidents.  Of the 19 crashes in Washington state in 2014, NTSB records show investigators did not go to the scene of roughly 13 of them.

"I think it's a matter of funding," commented Hedrick, "And there may be issues of industry safety that may be overlooked by the government."

Related links:

USA Today: Hidden defects linked to scores of small-aircraft crashes

Print
Email
|