School Backed Out One Month After June 2007 Accident
The Belleville, MI-based charter
operator of a Cessna Citation Bravo that crashed in Lake Michigan
last June recently sued the University of Michigan for over $1
million, saying the college terminated its contract after the
accident without due cause.
As ANN reported, the Citation
550 ditched about five minutes after takeoff from Milwaukee's
General Mitchell International Airport. The Lifeguard flight was
chartered by U-M, and had two university doctors and two
perfusionists onboard. The plane was transporting the medical
personnel and human organs to Willow Run Airport in Detroit, where
the doctors were to perform a double-lung transplant.
All onboard, including the aircraft's two-man flight crew, were
lost in the accident. The National Transportation Safety Board has
not yet released its probable cause report on the accident; ATC
transcripts indicate the pilots reported runaway trim, and were
trying to fix the problem, shortly before the Citation (accident
aircraft shown below) crashed.
Just over one month after the accident, U-M cancelled its
contract with Marlin Air to provide fixed-wing medical transport
services for the school's Survival Flight program, over two years
before it was due to expire.
Scott Erskine, attorney for the charter operator, asserts the
university backed out without due cause. He notes the probable
cause of the accident hasn't been determined by the NTSB or FAA...
and Marlin isn't accused of any wrongdoing.
"This lawsuit truly pits David v. Goliath," Erskine told The Ann
In a statement released Monday, the University of Michigan said
it cancelled the contract because "Marlin Air did not have the
ability to provide the services required by our institution. We
continued our services with other fixed wing carriers. We are now
in the process of contracting with new providers to support our
critical patient care needs."
Erskine replies the university cancelled the contract July 13, a
day after Marlin told U-M it would have two new pilots on the
transplant team by July 20.
"Marlin Air, Inc., a small, local company, faithfully performed
airplane maintenance and pilot training for the university's
Survival Flight program for well over a decade," he said. "Despite
an impeccable track record, the university terminated the contract
with Marlin Air shortly after the crash, citing only the 'tragic
circumstances that resulted in the crash' as the reason for