The wife of a pilot who died in a 2009 plane crash in Butte is suing the aircraft manufacturer and maintenance companies, saying the groups' negligent actions are responsible for the fatal accident. The National Transportation Safety Board had issued a ruling in 2011, asserting that the crash was caused by pilot error.
The accident occurred on March 22, 2009 when the woman's husband was flying a small private aircraft. On board were 13 passengers, among which were seven children. The plane crashed into a cemetery that is adjacent to the Butte airport. Everyone on board the plane died in the accident.
The recently filed claim alleges that the plane had a defective fuel system, as well as other malfunctioning parts that made the vehicle unreasonably dangerous for use. Further, the suit claims that the maintenance company hired to ensure the plane's upkeep failed to adequately service the vehicle between flights.
This suit was filed despite the official NTSB ruling in July 2011, which showed that the pilot failed to add ice to the plane's fuel, as is required for flight during freezing temperatures. This caused the fuel line to become obstructed, which caused the engine to stall. Although the man had more than 40 years of flying experience, he failed to make an expedient emergency landing, deciding to wait instead of putting the plane down immediately.
Furthermore, the plane, which was transporting the passengers to Butte from California for a ski trip, was unbalanced and overloaded, according to the official report. That is, too many passengers and too much cargo was on board for the plane to function properly.
A decision is still pending in the suit, which was officially filed on March 20, 2012.
Source: MT Standard, "Pilot's wife suing airplane company," John Grant Emeigh, March 21, 2012