ST. LOUIS – Poor communication with a deaf pilot caused a Cessna airplane to crash, and a field engineer hurt in the crash claims in Federal Court that his injuries ended his career. Deaf pilots can only fly in good visibility and must use airports without control towers so radio communication is not required.
Jeffrey and Jessica Willoughby were passengers in a plane flown by Alec Naiman, member of the Deaf Pilots Association, on June 23, 2005. They sued Cessna and Katama Airfield, near Edgartown, Mass.
Jeffry Willoughby also is a member of the Deaf Pilots Association.
Thee Willoughbys say the airport was notified repeatedly, well in advance, that a deaf pilot would be arriving the day of their flight.
They say a biplane on the runway forced their own plane to pull up to avoid a crash. The Willoughbys say the pilot of the biplane pilot had been unable to reach Naiman and decided to take off. As Naiman pulled up, his seat broke and slid back, pulling his hands and the control yoke further back, which forced the plane into a steep climb that led to an aerodynamic stall. The plane fell more than 100 feet to the ground.
Jeffrey Willoughby suffered a concussion and back and leg injuries. He claims he can no longer work as a field engineer because he has trouble walking on uneven ground. Represented by Walter Floyd, he seeks $1 million in damages.