Widow Blames FAA for Fatal Air Crash

PHOENIX (CN) – The wife of a pilot who died crash-landing his plane to avoid a midair collision sued the Federal Aviation Administration for $20 million.
     Lynne Smith claims her husband, Frank, “died as a result of trauma and horrific burns suffered when the Cirrus SR22 airplane he was piloting crashed following a near midair collision with a Gulfstream jet and loss of control in the ensuing wake turbulence vortex.
     “The crash occurred at 9:54 a.m. on December 15, 2011 at Scottsdale Municipal Airpark in Scottsdale, Arizona.
     “The weather conditions were clear at the time of the collision.”
     Smith sued the United States, the FAA and its parent agency, the U.S. Department of Transportation, in Federal Court. She sued as surviving spouse, and for their two children.
     She claims: “The crash was caused by the failure of the Scottsdale Airpark FAA Certified Professional Controllers to maintain situational awareness, provide proper traffic information, issue timely safety advisories, maintain appropriate aircraft spacing and sequencing and failure to issue a timely wake turbulence warning, among other things.”
     Smith says Scottsdale air traffic controllers failed to “provide traffic information to aircraft, provide timely safety alerts to pilots, maintain vigilance and situational awareness, maintain positive control of the traffic environment, avoid pilot confusion, operate as a cohesive team to prevent confusion and collision, follow up on instructions when not acknowledged, maintain adequate sequence and spacing between aircraft, and issue wake turbulence warnings to pilots likely to encounter that condition.”
     The National Transportation Safety Board issued a preliminary report shortly after the crash, stating that Frank Smith “reported that the sun was in his eyes, and he did not report seeing the Gulfstream.”
     Smith seeks more than $5 million in damages for wrongful death, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of consortium and negligence.
     She is represented by Shannon Clark with Gallagher & Kennedy.

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