Commercial Air Disasters – Flights to or from the U.S.British Airways Flight 2276 Emergency Evacuation
On September 8, 2014, British Airways Flight 2276 was preparing for take-off from Las Vegas McCarran International Airport. Take-off was aborted and the crew ordered an emergency evacuation of all 157 passengers and 13 crew members. The evacuation was the result of an uncontained engine failure in the left engine of the Boeing 777. Shrapnel-like debris fractured the fuel and hydraulic lines causing a fire in the main fuselage.
American Airlines Flight 587
On November 12, 2001, American Airlines Flight 587, on takeoff from New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport bound for the Dominican Republic, lost its vertical tail and crashed into the Belle Harbor neighborhood, killing all on board and 5 others on the ground. Floyd Wisner served as a member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, which obtained evidence that the crash was caused by the negligence of both Airlines and the aircraft manufacturer Airbus. The American Airlines pilot used excessive rudder input when the plane encountered turbulence, placing stress on the tail. Airbus used a less reliable composite material in its design and manufacture of the tail of the aircraft.
World Trade Center Attacks
Everyone knows all too well the horrific events of September 11, 2001. What is coming more to light now, however, are the shameful lapses in security by the nation’s two largest air carriers and their security companies. Floyd Wisner represented three young widows before the Victims Compensation Fund, obtaining awards significantly greater than the published standard awards. Floyd Wisner also obtained one of the first, multi-million dollar confidential settlements in a lawsuit brought against United Airlines and others for the family of a man working in the Towers.
Singapore Airlines Flight 006
While en route from Taipei to Los Angeles, Singapore Airlines Flight 006 crashed as it attempted a takeoff during a typhoon on a closed runway. Some passengers were killed while others sustained serious injuries. The disaster was compounded by the fact that the Boeing aircraft’s evacuation slides, manufactured by the Goodrich Corp., either failed to open or opened inside the plane, blocking the escape of some passengers.
Egypt Air Flight 990
This Boeing 767 aircraft, traveling from New York to Cairo, crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near Nantucket, Massachusetts on October 31, 1999, killing all on board. The U.S. crash investigators immediately raised the specter of pilot suicide, but any “evidence” of such mass homicide soon evaporated upon close examination by Floyd Wisner and other plaintiffs’ attorneys. Floyd Wisner served as a member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee and represented families of 48 victims in an action against Boeing and a component part manufacturer, Parker Hanifin Corp.
Swissair Flight 111
On September 2, 1998, shortly into the flight, the crew of Swissair 111, heading from New York to Switzerland, reported smoke in the cockpit. The McDonnell Douglas MD 11 subsequently crashed into the waters of Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia, killing all 229 on board. Floyd Wisner served as a member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee while representing families of American and French victims. Evidence indicated that the fire and resulting crash was caused by defects in the design and installation of the in-flight entertainment system. The crash and ensuing litigation also led to the issuance of numerous safety advisories and airworthiness directives by operators, manufacturers and government regulators.
TWA Flight 800
In this tragic occurrence, the Boeing 747, en route from New York to Paris, blew up in flight off Long Island, New York on July 17, 1996. An intensive investigation by the US FBI found no evidence of a bomb or missile strike, as initially feared. A comprehensive independent investigation and legal discovery conducted by Floyd Wisner and other members of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee instead found that the aircraft had exploded when the volatile air-fuel mixture in the aircraft’s nearly empty center wing fuel tank was ignited. The lawsuits led to orders for the inspection and replacement of aircraft wiring and to revisions in fuel tank design to eliminate ignition sources and to prevent the build-up of the volatile fuel-air mixture in the first instance.
Commercial Air Disasters – Flights AbroadLao Airlines Flight QV-301
On October 16, 2013, an ATR 72-600 aircraft being operated by Lao Airlines as Flight QV-301 as a domestic flight from Vientiane to Pakse, Laos crashed into the Mekong River in Pakse killing all 49 people on board. The crash was the deadliest to occur in Laotian territory.
British Airways Flight 762 Emergency Landing at Heathrow
On May 24, 2013, an Airbus A319 operated by British Airways as Flight 762 had to make an emergency landing at London Heathrow Airport shortly after take-off when the fan cowl doors from both engines detached. A fuel piper was punctured in the right engine and a fire ensued. The flight crew declared a MAYDAY. The aircraft landed on the runway and the passengers evacuated using the escape slides.
Swearingen SA227-AC Metro II operated by Aerocon Airlines at the airport in Riberalta, Bolivia
On November 3, 2013, a Fairchild Swearingen SA-227AC Metro III, performing flight A4-25 from Trinidad to Riberalta, Bolivia veered off the runway upon landing, overturned and caught fire. Of the 16 passengers and 3 crew members on board, 8 passengers perished.
Cessna 208 Grand Caravan operated by Moremi Air in Botswana
On October 14, 2011, a Cessna 208 Grand Caravan operated by Moremi Air crashed and burst into flames shortly after take-off from an airstrip in a private game reserve in Botswana. Of the 12 persons on board, eight people, including the pilot, perished. Wisner filed suit against Cessna in Kansas where the aircraft manufacturer is located. Cessna filed a forum non conveniens motion to dismiss the action claiming that the case should be pursued in a court in Botswana. Wisner Law Firm was successful in defeating the motion and keeping the case in Kansas.
Fairchild SA227-BC Metro III operated by Flightline BCN/Air Lada at Cork Airport in Ireland
On February 10, 2011, a Fairchild Swearingen SA-227BC Metro III, performing flight A4-25 from Belfast, Northern Ireland to Cork, Republic of Ireland crashed upon attempting to land at Cork Airport. Of the 10 passengers and 2 crewmembers on board, both pilots and four passengers died. Investigation by the Air Accident Investigation Unit Ireland (AAIUI) revealed that the right engine had consistently been developing more torque than the right engine. There was a leak in a component in the temperate sensor of the fuel control unit, causing the sensor to output incorrect temperate to the sensor, which resulted in incorrect scheduling of fuel flow. This asymmetrical torque of the engines caused the accident aircraft to rapidly roll to the right and crash.
Garuda Indonesia Flight 200
On March 7, 2007 a Boeing 737 aircraft being operated by Garuda Indonesia as a domestic flight from Jakarta to Yogyakarta, Indonesia overran the runway, crashed, and burst into flames at Adisucipto International Airport. Of the 133 and 7 crew members on board, 20 passengers and 1 crew member died. Garuda Indonesia has one of the worst safety records among the world’s national air carriers. Following the crash, the European Union banned all Indonesian airlines, including Garuda Indonesia, from flying into the EU. The ban was lifted in 2009 after widespread reforms were implemented.
Fairchild Aircraft SA227-DC Metro 23 near Lockhart River in Australia (2005)
On May 7, 2005, a Fairchild Metroliner commuter aircraft operated by Transair crashed during an approach to land at Lockhart River Airport in Queensland, Australia. The deadliest crash in Australia in the prior 36 years resulted in the death of all 15 persons on board.
Silk Air Flight 185
On December 19, 1997, a Silk Air Boeing 737 unexplainably went out of control during flight and crashed near Palembang, Indonesia. All onboard perished. Boeing immediately claimed the Singaporean pilot had committed suicide. Boeing found an ally in the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which supported the Boeing suicide theory. However, Wisner Law Firm and the other plaintiffs’ attorneys refused to accept this explanation. Floyd Wisner and others first defeated a motion by Boeing to transfer the case to Singapore or Indonesia, a move that would have effectively allowed Boeing to escape all responsibility. After an extensive independent investigation and an extremely difficult 8-year battle with the defendants, Floyd Wisner and the other plaintiffs’ attorneys were able to establish that the crash was caused, not by an intentional act by the pilot, but by a defect in the aircraft’s power control unit. Wisner obtained confidential multi-million dollar settlements for his Singaporean, Japanese, and Austrian clients. These settlements are believed to be the highest ever paid to non-Americans in the crash of a foreign airline.
Garuda Indonesia Flight 152
Indonesia suffered the worst aviation disaster in its history on September 26, 1997 when Garuda Flight 152 crashed into a hillside on approach to Medan, resulting in 224 deaths. The Garuda pilot was off course and flying below his assigned altitude, making the airline the most obvious responsible party. However, jurisdiction for an action against this state-owned airline was available only in Indonesia. Therefore, Floyd Wisner looked to other responsible parties to obtain fair compensation for his 28 Indonesian and European clients. Floyd Wisner brought an action in the U.S. against Sundstrand Corp., the U.S. manufacturer of the Ground Proximity Warning Computer (GPWC) on the accident aircraft, and established that the GPWC had failed to give the flight crew a timely alert of approaching terrain. Had the GPWC operated as warranted, the crash would have been avoided and 224 lives saved. After 5 years of hard-fought litigation, Floyd Wisner obtained settlements for his clients, which stand as record payments to non-Americans in a foreign domestic air crash.
Garuda Indonesia Flight 421
This Garuda flight plunged into the Solo River after both General Electric engines of the Boeing aircraft suffered a flame out when the aircraft flew through a thunderstorm. Miraculously, most of the passengers suffered only minor physical injuries, yet Floyd Wisner obtained very favorable settlements for his 38 clients in a lawsuit against Boeing and General Electric. Floyd Wisner negotiated these settlements while a motion by the defendants to transfer the action to Indonesia was pending before the U.S. court. This crash and resulting suit also led to safety changes as to the subject engines.
LAPA Flight 3142
This local Argentine airline crashed on takeoff from Buenos Aires when the pilots failed to correctly set the flaps, despite a warning horn blaring in their ears. Many passengers died and others suffered serious burns and other injuries. Among the victims was a young American woman whose family was faced with the prospect of attempting to obtain fair compensation for their grievous loss in the courts of Argentina. Floyd Wisner brought suit against the Argentine airline LAPA in Georgia and defeated a hotly contested motion by LAPA to transfer the action to Argentina, a motion which was argued by LAPA and defeated by Floyd Wisner, up to the Georgia Supreme Court. Wisner subsequently obtained a very favorable settlement for his clients based upon U.S. settlement values for the case.
Austral Flight 2553
This local Argentine aircraft spun wildly out of control during flight, crashing into a field in Uruguay and killing all on board. The crash is a vivid example of how air crashes often result from a combination of factors, in this case weather, dispatch, pilot error and miscommunication, equipment failures, and defective aircraft and component part design. The product liability case against McDonnell Douglas Co., the aircraft manufacturer, and against Smiths Industries, the manufacturer of the defectively designed airspeed indicator included arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit and the Florida Appellate Court. Floyd Wisner obtained confidential settlements for all his clients far in excess of the limits of Argentine law.
Lion Air Flight JT538
In 2004, the flight from Jakarta to Solo, Indonesia crashed upon landing at Adi Sumarmo Airport in Solo, Indonesia. The captain, a flight attendant, and 23 passengers perished. The crash was the result of defective engines on the aircraft.
BTANS Peru Flight 204
In 2005, Transporte Aereos Nacional de Selva (TANS) operated a flight from Lima to Pucallpa, Peru crashed upon landing. Of the 91 passengers and seven crew members on board, 40 people lost their lives. The Aviation Safety Network characterized the incident as one of the deadliest crashes in 2005.
Atlasjet Flight KK-4203
In flight from Istanbul to Isparta in 2007, Turkey, the aircraft crashed in a rocky mountainous area near the destination airport. All 57 people on board perished in the crash. Upon investigation by Wisner Law Firm and our colleagues, it was determined that the enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS) had failed. The system was designed to monitor the aircraft’s position in relation to the terrain surrounding it and sound an alert if the aircraft was in a position of danger. Though suit was brought against the American manufacturers in Chicago, Illinois, the defendants contended that Turkey was the proper forum for the suit. After failing to convince a trial judge that the case should be dismissed and re-filed in Turkey, the corporations attempted to persuade the Court of Appeals. Wisner argued in opposition and won. The Appellate Court made it very clear that foreign plaintiffs may bring American corporations to justice in American courts.
Learjet 45 in Mexico City
The Bombardier Learjet 45 crashed upon landing at Mexico City Airport in 2008. It was a business jet with eight people on board. The small plane crashed in rush hour traffic at an intersection in the Las Lomas business and residential district. The crash had a devastating impact on the surrounding financial district. At least 40 people on the ground were injured and six people were killed. This case presented the unique situation where Wisner Law Firm had to establish that the manufacturer and component manufacturers were liable for the injuries suffered by persons on the ground.
British Airways Flight 038
In 2008, the flight from Beijing to London was forced to make an emergency landing at Heathrow Airport in London. Luckily, all on board survived. However, the passengers were traumatized and some injured from the accident. Upon final approach to Heathrow, ice crystals in the fuel clogged the fuel-oil heat exchanger of the engine. The malfunction prevented the engine from getting the fuel that it needed to land. Rolls-Royce made the engine fuel-oil heat exchanger on that particular Boeing 777-200ER. As a result of the crash and litigation, Rolls-Royce made a modification and the European Aviation Safety Agency mandated that all affected engines be outfitted with the modification by January 1, 2011.
Qantas Flight 72
In this strange set of circumstances, a flight scheduled from Singapore to Perth, Australia experienced mid-flight sudden loss of altitude and was forced to make an emergency landing in 2008. The landing was not problematic. Rather, the two instances of uncommanded pitch-down maneuvers caused severe panic, psychological distress, and physical injuries. It was determined that the cause of the in-flight incident was a defective Air Data Inertial Reference Unit (ADIRU), which led to the release of an Emergency Airworthiness Directive to address the problem with the ADIRU.
Air France Flight 447
On June 1, 2009, the flight disappeared in the Atlantic off the coast of Brazil with 228 crew and passengers on board while en route from Rio De Janeiro to Paris. The investigation was delayed because the black boxes were not recovered from the bottom of the ocean floor until nearly two years later. It was determined that the pitot tubes on the Airbus 330 were blocked by ice, which caused the aircraft’s autopilot to malfunction. The flight was so infamous that 60 Minutes did a feature on it in which Floyd Wisner was interviewed. The incident was referred to as the “Titanic of Air Disasters.”
Afriqiyah Airways Flight U8771
In 2010, the flight from Johannesburg, South Africa to Tripoli, Libya. The Airbus 330 crashed during its final approach. Of the 104 people on board, only one person survived. It was considered to be the second deadliest involving an Airbus 330 (second to Air France Flight 447).
PNG Flight CG1600
This Airlines Papua New Guinea flight scheduled from Port Moresby, with a stop in Lae-Nazzab, to Mandang Airport in Papua New Guinea made a forced landing in the mountainous terrain near Gogol River in 2011. Of the 32 people on board, 28 perished in the crash.. Numerous malfunction occurred on the flight, including the pitot static system failure to record airspeed, the propellers went into overspeed, and the engines failed. The crash involved a de Havilland Canada DHC-8-102, commonly referred to as Dash 8. As a result of the investigation and lawsuit, PNG grounded its entire fleet of the Dash 8s. Also, Transport Canada released an Airworthiness Directive requiring that the aircrafts be outfitted with a modification that would prevent such incidents in the future.
LOT Flight 016
In 2011, the flight from New Jersey, U.S. to Warsaw, Poland was forced to make an emergency gear up landing (commonly referred to as a “belly landing”) at Warsaw Airport. The incident was due to multiple failures of the landing system including, a leak in the hydraulic fluid which prevented the primary landing gear from deploying and the failure of the backup system. A report by the State Commission on Aircraft Accidents Investigation in Poland suggested that a popped circuit breaker may have caused the landing gear to fail. However, no alert sounded and the issue was not covered in the emergency checklist manual.
Sukhoi Superjet 100 Demonstration Flight
A demonstration flight departing from and returning to Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia violently crashed in Mount Salak in 2012. Though the crash was attributed to pilot error, further investigation provided insight as to how a mechanical malfunction had led to the disaster. The Terrain Avoidance Warning System alarms the pilots when the aircraft is in an area of dangerous terrain. However, that system was prone to give nuisance or false warnings. Shockingly, the system could be disabled so that nuisance warnings no longer sounded. As a result, the system did not provide adequate warnings and the aircraft crashed into a mountain and all aboard perished upon impact.
Cargo Plane DisastersEmery Air Flight 17
On February 16, 2000, Emery Air Flight 17 crashed on takeoff from Sacramento airport, killing the three crew members. The crash occurred when a flight control failed as the result of the negligent failure of a maintenance contractor, to replace and properly secure a critical bolt during a recent maintenance overhaul.
Fine Air Flight 101
Wisner represented the families of the co-pilot and flight engineer killed in the crash of a Fine Air cargo flight on August 7, 1997 in Miami, Florida. The cargo loaders had changed the distribution of the load in order to fit certain cargo. The flight crew, which had set the plane’s center of gravity controls based upon the now changed loading plan, was not told of the change. The crew could not recover the aircraft from its consequent nose up attitude and the aircraft crashed. Floyd Wisner provided information to the U.S. Attorney, which assisted the government in bringing criminal charges, and imposing criminal penalties, against this cargo carrier.