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Jury to LIT: Pay The Lady

Widow Wins Lawsuit

A federal jury ordered the Little Rock National Airport (Adams Field) to pay more than $2.1 million to Susan Buschmann, the widow of Captain Richard Buschmann. He died after his American Airlines jet went off the end of the runway on June 1st, 1999.

Captain Buschman was in command of AA Flight 1420, and attempted to land the MD-82 during a severe thunderstorm after a long duty day. The airplane was unable to stop on the runway, and hit approach lights. The accident killed him and ten others.

The NTSB had reported that Captain Buschmann made several errors, and the airport tried to use that in their defense. The NTSB cited "The flight crew's failure to discontinue the approach when severe thunderstorms and their associated hazards to flight operations had moved into the airport area and the crew's failure to ensure that the spoilers had extended after touchdown."

The NTSB said "the flight crew's (1) impaired performance resulting from fatigue and the situational stress associated with the intent to land under the circumstances, (2) continuation of the approach to a landing when the company's maximum crosswind component was exceeded, and (3) use of reverse thrust greater than 1.3 engine pressure ratio after landing," contributed to the accident.

Ultimately, the jury deliberated just a few hours before they agreed that the runway safety zone at the airport was inadequate, with lights only 453 feet from the runway instead of the 1,000-foot standard. The airport reconfigured the safety zone after the accident.

"I feel like my husband's been exonerated," Susan Buschmann said after the verdict, according to an AP report.

Lawyers for the airport said they would consider an appeal.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov, http://lrn-airport.com/

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