WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (WTNH) — Several passengers and estates of passengers who were inside the vintage B-17G aircraft that crashed at Bradley International Airport last year are now suing the aircraft’s owner, The Collings Foundation.
On Oct. 2, 2019, 10 passengers boarded the B-17G aircraft for ‘The Wings of Freedom Tour’. The lawsuit states five passengers died as a result of the crash; the other five passengers received permanent bodily and emotional injuries.
The 200+ page lawsuit claims the crash was a result of “negligence, recklessness, and callous indifference.”
The aircraft was a refurbished, vintage World War II bomber warplane. The lawsuit states that it was not used in warfare but was repurposed several times. The aircraft was certified under a Limited Category Special Airworthiness Certificate.
The lawsuit claims that the crew did not provide clear instructions to the passengers on how to properly fasten and unfasten the military-style seatbelts. The lawsuit lists several examples of the passengers struggling to adjust them correctly and the crew disregarding their concerns.
Soon after takeoff, the aircraft experienced a problem with the back engine. The lawsuit claims the crew did not inform the passengers of what was happening.
“The copilot reported to the passengers, that they were having trouble starting the number four engine but that it was ‘nothing to be concerned about.’ He stated that this is ‘normal when it is wet and humid,'” Dr. Michael Teiger, an Aviation Medical Examiner and Aviation Specialist said.
Dr. Teiger says when he looks at the preliminary report from the NTSB, the plane returned to the airport with possibly two engines malfunctioning.
The aircraft ended up striking airport runway lights, crashing 500 feet before the runway and colliding with vehicles and a deicing fluid tank, which started a fire.
While the lawsuit says that the seatbelts contributed to injury, the bottom line is the plane crashed and came down before it got to the runway.
Dr. Teiger concluded, “The problem everybody is going to have is how come it didn’t make it to the runway? How come the power wasn’t enough to get to the runway? And that’s where they’re going to look at two engines not functioning because that will be a critical situation.”
In a statement regarding the lawsuit, The Collings Foundation said Tuesday,
In order to obtain technical experience and expertise, the National Transportation Safety Board made The Collings Foundation a party to the pending accident investigation. In that role, the Foundation is prohibited, both by the Certification of Party Representative and by federal regulations, from commenting on this matter and disseminating information that is the subject of this investigation.
In response to the suit, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), who is a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, called on the FAA to commit to “more effective supervision to ensure the safety of passengers, crew members, and the public.”
These allegations are damning – highlighting numerous safety failures that resulted in injury and death. These failures – directly contradicting Collings’ promises to the FAA and the public – demonstrate the urgent FAA obligation to significantly increase oversight of such organizations. The FAA must commit to ensuring more effective supervision to ensure the safety of passengers, crew members, and the public.– Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
The National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the exact cause of the crash.
Web Extra: B-17G crash passengers sue Collings Foundation