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Thu, Mar 22, 2007

Lawsuits Filed in 2006 Citation 560 Accident

Families Blame Airport, Pilots For Failed Go-Around

Five lawsuits have been filed over the 2006 fatal downing of a Cessna Citation 560 at McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, CA.

The North County Times reports two of the lawsuits allege the January 24, 2006 accident was caused by negligence in how the aircraft was operated. Another allegation says the county "allowed" a structure to be placed near the end of the runway, and it "created a dangerous condition and violated federal regulations" said attorney Bruce Lampert who is representing the family of the co-pilot who perished along with three others in the accident.

"We believe there was an obstruction on the airport runway, in the environment of the airport runway, that was improper," Lampert added.

William O'Connor, attorney for the county, refused to comment.

According to the NTSB Preliminary Report, the Citation impacted the localizer antenna platform during an apparent aborted landing on Runway 24 at McClellan-Palomar Airport.

The report further states the landing gear "impacted the localizer platform structure, and its left wing tip collided with a platform access ladder attached to the far left side of the platform." It then traveled approximately another 400 feet and "impacted much of the external surface of a 150 foot long commercial self-storage building."

As Aero-News reported, the plane burst into flames as it came to rest at the west end of the storage building. Killed in the accident was pilot, John C. Francis; co-pilot James A. "Andy" Garratt; and passengers Janet Shafran and Frank H. Jellinek Jr.

Shafran's family and Jellinek's family are suing San Diego County; the estates of the pilot and co-pilot; Goship Air LLC, the owner of the aircraft; and the plane's operator, Jaxair LLC in separate lawsuits.

The two companies and the passengers' families are also suing the county, alleging the plane was "fully capable of continued safe flight during the attempted go-around procedure, but that the antenna and ladder structure intruded upwards into the airspace at the departure end of the runway," thus causing the accident.

Several claims have been filed with the FAA as well. The agency has six months to act on those claims, according to an FAA spokesman.

Passenger Shafran family's attorney, William Wimsatt, said the county told him in a letter that it leased the antenna and ladder structure to the Federal Aviation Administration.

"It's unestablished, in my mind as of right now, just what responsibility the FAA had for the structure and what responsibility San Diego County had for the structure," Wimsatt said.

He also said there did not appear to have been any problem with the airplane and that Francis "was a well-qualified and highly recommended pilot."

"We're simply waiting for the opportunity to get more information," Wimsatt said.

FMI: Read The NTSB Preliminary Report

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