An attorney representing the families of New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle and flight instructor Tyler Stanger, who died in the crash of the Cirrus SR20 in Manhattan, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Cirrus Design Corp.
The complaint alleges product liability, negligence and breach of warranty against Cirrus. Teledyne, Hartzell Propeller, S-Tec, Honeywell and Justice Aviation also are named in the complaint, which was filed by Todd Macaluso of Macaluso & Associates of Santa Monica, Calif.
The lawsuit alleges that catastrophic failure of the flight control system was responsible for the Oct. 11 crash that took the lives of Lidle and flight instructor Stanger. The men were flying in the VFR corridor over Manhattan when they attempted to make a tight turn. The plane hit a high-rise luxury apartment building at the 30th floor. Apartments on the 29th through 31st floors were damaged by fire.
According to a media release from the law firm, as early as April 2006 the NTSB was notified that SR20 aircraft had left Cirrus’ manufacturing plant with aileron travel stops that were misrigged.
“This was causing flight control problems,” said Macaulso, who is a 8,000-hour pilot. “The NTSB was also notified that the trim cartridges in the left ailerons were sticking on some planes.”
The lawsuit alleges Cirrus never took any corrective actions despite these known defects in the aircraft rigging.
“The NTSB is now investigating the performance and design evaluation of the flight controls, specifically the ailerons of the Cirrus,” said Macaluso. “This is based upon the findings of the wreckage. The left aileron was fully deflected up at the time of impact and the aileron trim and trim motors were in the full left and full up positions. These indications would lead anyone familiar with aviation to conclude that they were fighting the controls of the airplane because you would never have these trim positions in normal flight, but when you are fighting an aircraft that is out of control. It takes a full 14 seconds for the trim motor to go from static flight to full nose up condition.”
According to the NTSB, the investigation is still ongoing and the cause of the crash has not been determined.
“We want to make sure no one else gets hurt,” said Macaluso. “We want the FAA and Cirrus to cooperate with one another to come up with a fix that works.”
Our calls to Cirrus were not returned by press time.
Lidle received his private pilot’s license several months prior to the accident. At this time it has not been determined who was flying at the time of the crash.
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