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Owatonna Minnesota Plane Crash

Accident Overview

At about 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 31, 2008 Flight ECJ 81 (a Raytheon Hawker 800) crashed in a corn field northwest of runway 30 at Degner Regional Airport in Owatonna Minnesota. The aircraft was en route from Atlantic City with a scheduled stop in Owatonna Minnesota. The flight originated from its base in Allentown Pennsylvania and was ultimately headed for Crossville Tennessee. Seven people were found dead at the scene and an eighth died shortly thereafter in a local hospital.

Owatonna Crash Site

Passengers and Crew

The jet was carrying six casino and construction executives and two pilots. The executives were en route to meet with representatives of a local glass company to discuss a hotel-casino complex being built in Atlantic City by Revel Entertainment. The identities of all 8 victims have recently been released.

Clark J. Keefer, 40, of Bethlehem, PA, Pilot for East Coast Jets;

Dan D’Ambrosio, 27, of Hellertown, PA, Pilot for East Coast Jets;

Karen Sandland, 44, of Galloway, NJ, Project Manager for Tishman Construction Corporation;

Marc L. Rosenberg, 57, of Margate, NJ, Chief Operating Officer of APG International in Glassboro, NJ;

Alan M. Barnet, 51, of Absecon, NJ, Assistant Project Manager of APG International in Glassboro, NJ;

Tony Craig, 50, of Brigantine, NJ, V.P. of Construction Development for Revel Entertainment;

Chris Daul, 44, of Northfield, NJ, V.P. of Construction Development for Revel Entertainment; and

Lawrence “Chip” Merrigan, 62, of Absecon, Director of Field Operations for Revel Entertainment.

Preliminary Investigation

The National Transportation Safety Board immediately dispatched a 14 member “Go Team” to investigate the crash. The NTSB, looking for clues which could possibly reveal why the plane crashed has been surveying the wreckage, examining the runway and taking eye witnesses statements. At this time, accident investigators would not speculate on a possible cause but did release the following information.

In a press conference held on August 1st at 11:00 MDT, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Member Steven Chealander confirmed that a cockpit voice recorder and flight management system were both recovered from the accident and have been sent to the NTSB lab in Washington, D.C. for analysis. Although large commercial aircraft and some smaller commercial, corporate, and private aircraft are required by the FAA to be equipped with two “black boxes” — both the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and a Flight Data Recorder (FDR) — the aircraft in yesterday’s accident was not equipped, nor was it required to be equipped, with an FDR.

The FDR is a more sophisticated means of data collection and monitors parameters such as altitude, airspeed and heading. Both recorders are installed to help reconstruct the events leading to an aircraft accident. Since 1999, the NTSB has listed the improvement of audio and data recorders on its “Most Wanted List” of transportation safety improvements. The Board specifically renewed these recommended safety improvements in 2004 during the investigation into the October 25, 2002 plane crash of Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, which lacked an FDR, making it extremely difficult for investigators to piece together the last few moments of the flight. Nonetheless, the NTSB notes that these recommendations remain “open” with an “unacceptable response” from the FAA. Jim Hall, a Nolan Law Group attorney and former NTSB Chairman, stated “Sadly, despite the availability of this invaluable technologythe inaction of the FAA and the business aviation community regarding these safety measures will once again leave the people of Minnesota asking questions.”

Weather Radar Analysis

Nolan Law Group’s consulting meteorological expert has reviewed the weather radar and other weather products available around the time of the crash and has determined it is unlikely weather conditions directly contributed to the aircraft accident. There was no evidence to suggest wind shear, updrafts, lightning strikes, or other weather phenomenon in the area at the time of the crash. Severe weather reported near Owatonna earlier that morning had passed the airport prior to the aircraft’s approach to landing.

Weather Radar Analysis Video

Source: Video shows the weather conditions and flight path of the Raytheon Hawker 800 – Flight ECJ81 – before the crash..
Source: FlightExplorer.com

Runway Conditions

On July 31, 2008 Degner Regional Airport experienced a heavy downpour just prior to the attempted landing of the East Cost Jets plane. Runway 12/30, where the Hawker 800 crash occurred is listed as a 5500 x 100 ft. non-grooved concrete runway. Nolan Law Group attorney and commercial airline pilot, Chuck Barnett points out; “that after a heavy rainfall, non-grooved runways are more likely to retain standing water than grooved runways”.

According to the FAA, a runway is considered “contaminated” when standing water, ice, snow, slush, frost in any form, heavy rubber, or other substances are present. These contaminated runways, in turn, increase the probability that the tires of an aircraft will hydroplane.

The NTSB, in its investigation is likely to consider whether or not contaminated runway conditions or hydroplaning contributed to the crash of the Hawker 800.

Additionally operations on shorter runways that are contaminated with standing water are more likely to result in inadequate braking distances for some aircraft. Braking distances and other safety concerns relating to an attempted landing necessitate an adequate runway safety area (“RSA”) for a proper margin of safety.

The FAA defines an RSA as: “A defined surface surrounding the runway prepared, or suitable, for reducing the risk of damage to airplanes in the event of an undershoot, overshoot, or excursion from the runway.” Runway 12/30 at the Degner Regional Airport has a length of 5,500 feet and the RSA is still TBD.

NTSB board member Steven Chealander confirmed that the aircraft’s right wing hit an antenna 1000 feet past the end of the runway. He stated: “At about a thousand feet there was a localizer antenna which is part of the navigation system of this airport and the right wing of the plane hit that localizer antenna and at that point that’s where the accident sequence started.”

The issues of whether there was an adequate RSA and whether an ILS antenna was too close to the end of the runway are also likely to be considered by the NTSB in its investigation of the crash.

Aircraft Information

The airplane involved in the accident was a BAe.125 Series 800B, commonly referred to as a Hawker 800. The airplane was manufactured as serial number 258186. (25 relates to the model, 8 refers to the derivative and 186 to the production number) The airplane was first registered to British Aerospace, Plc in the United Kingdom on September 17, 1990 under British registration G-BSUL. The aircraft was later registered in Bermuda and then re-registered in the UK to Raytheon Corporate Jets, Inc., before being exported to the United States on May 4, 1994.

The accident airplane was first registered to MVA Aircraft Leasing in 2003 and remained registered to it under FAA registration N818MV through and including the date of the accident on July 31, 2008.

Prior to August 1, 1995, and including the time at which the accident airplane was manufactured, the UK was considered the State of Design and the State of Manufacture of the BAe.125 Series 800B model airplanes, and such airplanes were approved by the FAA under Type Certificate No. A3EU in accordance with FAA regulations governing imported products. On August 1, 995, Raytheon Aircraft Company became the holder of Type Certificate No. A3EU and the FAA accepted, on behalf of the United States, status as the State of design and State of Manufacture of all model airplanes under that Type Certificate.

On March 26, 2007, Raytheon Aircraft Company transferred Type Certifcate No. A3EU to Hawker Beechcraft Corporation, 9709 East Central, Wichita Kansas 67206. Hawker Beechcraft remains the Type Certicate holder to this day, and as such, has certain obligations for the continued airworthiness of all airplanes covered under that Type Certificate pursuant to the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs).

Raytheon hawker 800a

Operator Information

The Hawker 800A was operated by East Coast Jets, of Allentown, Pennsylvania. The plane was reportedly added to East Coast Jets fleet in September 2007, bringing their fleet to a total of 11 planes. East Coast Jets operates out of Lehigh Valley International Airport and offers premium jet charter service and aircraft management. The aircraft was chartered by Revel Entertainment to transport employees to Owatonna, MN from Atlantic City, NJ.

Small Jet Crashes in Minnesota; at Least 8 Killed

OWATONNA, Minn. (AP) _ A small jet crashed in strong thunderstorms Thursday while preparing to land at a regional airport in Minnesota, killing at least eight people, including several casino and construction executives.

Sheriff Gary Ringhofer said there were at most nine people aboard the Raytheon Hawker 800, which went down at a regional airport about 60 miles south of the Twin Cities. He said investigators were looking into whether there was a passenger who is unaccounted for.

Seven people were dead at the scene. One died later at a hospital.

Atlantic City Mayor Scott Evans told The Associated Press that those on board included two high-ranking executives from Revel Entertainment, which is building a $2 billion hotel-casino project in Atlantic City, and several employees of Tishman Construction, which is working on the project. He didn’t know their identities, but said Revel CEO Kevin DeSanctis was not on board.

Bud Perrone, a spokesman for Tishman, identified one of the victims as Karen Sandland, a project manager on the Revel project who worked out of Tishman’s Newark, N.J., office. He said the company thinks Sandland was the only Tishman employee on board, but that it was trying to confirm that.

Lauren Avellino Turton, a spokesperson for Revel, confirmed in a written statement that several company employees were killed in the crash, although she didn’t identify those killed or say how many were on board.

“Revel is mourning the loss of several of its team members,” the statement read. “The design team was heading to Minnesota for a glass manufacturing meeting.”

The charter jet, flying from from Atlantic City, N.J., to Owatonna, a town of 25,000, went down in a cornfield northwest of Degner Regional Airport, scattering debris, Ringhofer said. The wreckage was not visible to reporters because tall corn obscured the crash site.

Cameron Smith, a mechanic at the airport, said he spoke by radio with the jet’s pilot just minutes before the crash. The pilot was about to land and was asking where he should park for fuel, Smith said.

He ran to the crash scene to see if anyone could be helped, but saw only a long skid path and debris that he described as “shredded.”

“I was amazed to hear that someone survived,” he said. “There was no fuselage. There were just parts.”

Quinn Johnson, an assistant manager at a restaurant about three miles from the airport, didn’t see the crash, but heard it. She initially thought it was a tornado.

“It lasted, I’m guessing, probably 15, 20 seconds, maybe slightly longer than that. It was a really, really loud, kind of a rumbling, screechy type noise,” Johnson said.

The crash happened as severe weather battered parts of southern Minnesota. An hour before the accident, a 72 mph wind gust was reported in Owatonna, according to the National Weather Service.

Both Smith and Johnson said the crash happened after the worst of the storm had passed, with the sky clearing and only light rain.

The plane had been scheduled to land at 9:42 a.m., then take off at 11:40 a.m. for Crossville, Tenn.

Viracon earlier this year was awarded a contract to supply glass to the World Trade Center replacement project. The company’s president, Don Pyatt, told the Owatonna People’s Press that the customers were from “a couple of different companies” who were coming to the plant to discuss a project in Las Vegas.

Pyatt gave no other details, and didn’t return a call from The Associated Press.

Mary Ann Jackson, a spokeswoman for Viracon’s parent company Apogee Enterprises Inc., confirmed to the AP that those on board were Viracon customers, but declined to provide any other details. She said no Viracon employees were involved in the crash.

The airport lies alongside Interstate 35 as it skirts Owatonna’s western edge. The airport’s Web site describes it as “ideal for all classes of corporate aircraft use” with an all-weather instrument landing system. “Maintaining access to Owatonna’s business community in all weather conditions is a priority,” the site says.

Sharon Gordon, a spokeswoman for the South Jersey Transportation Authority, which operates Atlantic City International Airport, said the East Coast Jets plane landed at the airport at 7:10 a.m. from its base in Allentown, Pa.

It picked up several passengers, although there is confusion about how many actually got in the plane, she said.

“We really don’t know the total amount,” she said. “It turned around very quickly, leaving at 8:13 a.m., and required no services on the ground.”

Toni Evans, an executive assistant for the SOSH architectural firm in Atlantic City, said at least some of those on board the plane were affiliated with the company, though none were company employees.

“They were from a couple of different companies,” she said. “We’ve been asked not to say anything further about it at this point. We don’t know who survived and who didn’t.”

She said the people affiliated with the firm were New Jersey residents.

SOSH specializes in designing casino projects. It is helping design the $2 billion Revel Entertainment casino-hotel project in Atlantic City, and the $333 million Buffalo Creek casino-hotel project in upstate New York for the Seneca Nation, among other projects.

The Associated Press, 07/31/2008

Associated Press writer Wayne Parry in Atlantic City, N.J. contributed to this report.

Peruvian Government Insubstantial Report Not Surprising, Peruvian Government Issues Final Report for TANS Peru Crash August 23, 2005

Chicago The government of Peru has issued their final report of the TANS airlines Boeing 737-244 accident official investigation from August 23 2005. (Click link for full report) The vague report concludes pilot error and adverse weather conditions contributed to the crash which killed 45 people and injured the other 55 passengers. The report notes the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) had nothing usable to determine the cause of the crash and is still being held as what many see as the to determining what really happened.

On August 23, 2005, a TANS (Transportes Aeros Nacionales de la Selva) Boeing 737-200 with 100 people on board (92 passengers, 8 crew) was flying from Lima to Pucallpa, Peru, a popular tourist destination 840 kilometers (520 miles) northeast of the capital, when it crashed on approach to landing during turbulent weather conditions.

On April 4, 2006 Nolan Law Group served the Peruvian Government with 29 petitions, signed by survivors or families of the victims. These petitions requested the government of Peru, through its Aircraft Accident Investigation Commission (Comision de Investigacion de Accidentes Aereos), exercise its discretion under Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation to release the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and the flight data recorder tapes. The Peruvian Government has refused to honor the request.

On May 31, 2006 Nolan Law Group filed lawsuits on behalf of six members of the Vivas family from New York, one Peruvian survivor and the father of a six month old baby who was killed in the crash. The plaintiffs complaints include two counts each against Boeing and United Technologies Company (operating as Pratt Whitney) alleging negligence and product liability and one count against TANS Peru alleging negligence.

“This unreleased evidence is vital in determining the actual cause of the crash and who may be” said Donald J. Nolan of Nolan Law Group regarding the withheld CVR and FDR. “Given the myriad of unanswered questions in the report, this is precisely a case that requires full disclosure” offers Nolan.

The final report indicates that the accident airplane was equipped with a ground proximity warning system (GPWS) and that a wind shear detection device was added to the airplane three months prior to the accident. With both of these systems in place, the pilots should have received warnings prior to the plane crashing. For example, the audible warnings of “wind shear, wind shear” and “terrain, terrain” would have alerted pilots under proper conditions. However, the final report states that investigators were not able to verify the functionality of this equipment, leading to speculation that perhaps the GPWS was not working properly.

Under international treaty, the investigation if the TANS Peru crash was lead by the government of Peru. The Peruvian investigators faced numerous constraints such as lack of funding and resources. These types of constraints limit the ability of investigators to perform proper testing and analysis and preclude their access to resources and independent experts.

Acknowledging the inevitable constraints of a governmental investigation, Nolan notes that his firm “stands ready to have all of the factual information and data analyzed and tested by the best available experts in order to provide the victims and their families with full and complete answers.”

To date, however, the government of Peru, which through (FONAFE) indirectly owns the stock of TANS Peru, has refused to provide the victims and their families with any of the factual information and data related to the crash. “We simply want access to factual information; you have to wonder why they won’t give us that.”

About Nolan Law Group

Nolan Law Group helps individuals and families, in Chicago and around the world, after a tragic loss or serious personal injury. The law firm focuses its practice primarily on mass tort aviation and closed brain injury litigation.

Nolan Law Group is one of small number of law firms with a niche in the highly complex and ever-changing area of aviation litigation and is active all over the world. With regard to traumatic brain injury litigation, Nolan Law Group has pioneered the use of sophisticated technology to demonstrate the extent of brain damage that can occur as a result of accidents.

The firm has earned recognition by the legal industry leading authority, Martindale-Hubbell, for impeccable professional ethics and for legal abilities of the highest caliber.

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Survivors of 2005 TANS Peru Crash File Multiple Lawsuits Against Boeing Company

Formal Complaints filed Against Boeing, TANS Peru and United Technologies Company (DBA Pratt and Whitney)

CHICAGO Victims of TANS Peru Flight 204 have filed suit from the gruesome plane crash which killed 45 people and injured 55 passengers and flight crew in August 2005. Nolan Law Group today filed the first formal complaints in the Circuit Court of Cook County Illinois alleging negligence and product liability against Boeing, TANS Peru and United Technologies Corporation (DBA Pratt and Whitney.) The complaints were filed on behalf of six members of the Vivas family from New York, one Peruvian survivor and the father of a six month old baby who was killed in the crash.

On August 23, 2005, a TANS (Transportes Aeros Nacionales de la Selva) Boeing 737-200 with 100 people on board (92 passengers, 8 crew) was flying from Lima to Pucallpa, Peru, a popular tourist destination 840 kilometers (520 miles) northeast of the capital, when it crashed on approach to landing during turbulent weather conditions.

Attorney Donald J. Nolan stated “Not only has the memory of this devastating crash scarred the lives of the Vivas family and other families; their future is filled with enormous pain and suffering. Their life long torment will include significant expenses for necessary medical care and psychological treatment, Nolan explained

The lawsuits filed today include two counts each against Boeing and United Technologies Company (operating as Pratt Whitney) alleging negligence and product liability and one count of negligence against TANS Peru charging negligence.

“This is a situation where the combination of the aircraft and engine design, the weather and the poor pilot training proved to be lethal.” Nolan said.

On April 4, 2005 Nolan Law Group petitioned the Peruvian Government to release the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder from the crash. Peru would not comply. Peru rejected the firms request to have a transparent investigation on behalf of their clients and other survivors/ victims families.

The lawsuit claims the engines were not only poorly designed but defective in nature. The Pratt and Whitney engines failed to properly deflect precipitation, causing the aircraft to be inoperable in a tropical environment which commonly contains high liquid water content. In addition, the re-light system in the engines failed to energize igniters in the event of a flameout. Thirdly, the engines had not been properly maintained with proper safety instructions and warnings in place.

About Nolan Law Group

Nolan Law Group helps individuals and families, in Chicago and around the world, after a tragic loss or serious personal injury. The law firm focuses its practice primarily on mass tort aviation and closed brain injury litigation.

Nolan Law Group is one of small number of law firms with a niche in the highly complex and ever-changing area of aviation litigation and is active all over the world. With regard to traumatic brain injury litigation, Nolan Law Group has pioneered the use of sophisticated technology to demonstrate the extent of brain damage that can occur as a result of accidents.

The firm has earned recognition by the legal industry-leading authority, Martindale-Hubbell, for impeccable professional ethics and for legal abilities of the highest caliber.

Iowa Resident Dies After Using Contaminated Blood Thinner – Illinois Pharmaceutical Manufacturer Named In Lawsuit

CHICAGO, Illinois (May 14, 2008) – Last month a lawsuit was filed against Deerfield, Illinois-based Baxter International Inc. on behalf of Davenport, Iowa resident, Mark Scott who suffered the tragic loss of his wife, Melissa Scott, on November 30, 2007. The complaint was filed On April 1, 2008 in the Circuit Court of Cook County by Nolan Law Group and alleges that Melissa Scott’s untimely death was caused by her exposure to Heparin Sodium Injection Therapy. The complaint cites two counts of product liability and negligence on the part of Baxter International.

The lawsuit filed by Nolan Law Group and Mark Scott asserts that Baxter International was responsible for the manufacture, sale and distribution of a product containing toxic chemicals. It also claims that the product was manufactured with insufficient amounts of the active ingredient API and that Baxter International failed to provide adequate warnings or instructions to assist users in identifying adverse reactions.

Baxter’s Heparin has been implicated in more than 400 life-threatening incidents and may be responsible for as many as 81 deaths. In February 2008, Baxter initiated a voluntary recall of nine lots of Heparin Sodium Injection Multi-Dose Vials. According to Baxter International, they recalled the lots due to a spike in adverse reports associated with the use of Baxter Heparin Sodium Injections. After receiving additional reports of similar adverse reactions from other lots of their Heparin Sodium Injection Products, Baxter recalled their remaining multi-dose and single-dose vials, as well as HEP-LOCK Heparin Flush Products.

It was around this same time that the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued its initial Public Health Advisory warning doctors and other health practitioners not to use Baxter Heparin products. The report stated that serious injuries and deaths have been associated with the use of Heparin. The adverse effects have included allergic or hypersensitivity-type reactions with symptoms, such as low blood pressure, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain and death.

Since the original complaint was filed, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has conducted a formal investigation in which they identified an unknown contaminant found in the Baxter Heparin. In early April of 2008, researchers confirmed the FDA’S suspicion that the contaminant found in the Heparin is Oversulfated Chondroitin Sulfate (OSCS), a derivative of a popular supplement used to relieve arthritis, and a chemical that does not occur naturally during Heparin production. Additionally, the FDA investigation revealed more information about inadequate testing and supply-chain issues associated with the Baxter Heparin.

Raw Heparin is often processed by small, unregistered “mom-and-pop” workshops in China. However, the key to establishing causation in the Scott case, despite all of the issues with unsanitary conditions, etc., will be Baxter’s failure to perform a chemical test on the Heparin which would have been sensitive enough to identify the difference between Heparin and OSCS. The abhorrent conditions in China from where Heparin was being imported (and the fact that the FDA was not doing significant inspections) required the need for more sensitive testing.

According to the FDA’s inspection, the Changzhou SPL Facility was unable to provide FDA with any assurance “that processing steps used to manufacture heparin sodium, USP are capable of effectively removing impurities.” FDA also found that the facility failed “to have adequate systems for evaluating the suppliers of crude heparin materials, or the crude materials themselves, to ensure that these materials are acceptable for use.” Moreover, the methods employed to test Heparin Sodium United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) had not been verified to ensure suitability under actual conditions of use, and the equipment used to manufacture the product was “unsuitable” for its intended use.

China’s Ministry of Commerce is now requiring local Heparin makers to increase testing of raw materials, improve post-sale tracking and ensure that their raw material comes from registered suppliers. This requirement follows U.S. Congressional inquiries into the FDA’s overseas inspection process.

The House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee held a hearing on April 15th of this year regarding the distribution of contaminated Heparin. A follow-up hearing took place on April 22nd at which time the committee asked FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach how the agency will address concerns regarding its efforts to inspect foreign drug facilities.

Mr. Scott has been appointed special administrator of his wife’s estate and, as such, is seeking personal and pecuniary damages from Baxter International Inc. for the loss of his wife in a sum in excess of the minimal jurisdictional limits of the Cook County Circuit Court.

Nolan Law Group is a Chicago-based personal injury law firm concentrating in aviation accidents, construction accidents, brain injury litigation, medical malpractice, premises liability, product liability, and trucking accidents.