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Sun, Oct 12, 2008

US Law Firms Partner To Go After FAA In Aeroflot-Nord Accident

Note Probable Cause Hasn't Been Determined, But Maintain Oversight 'Shortcomings' Are Clear

Two American law firms have joined forces to sue the Federal Aviation Administration in connection with the September 14 downing of a Boeing 737-500 airliner near Perm, Russia.

On Friday, Nolan Law Group and Ribbeck Law Chartered filed a Petition for Discovery in the state court in Chicago arising from the accident, which claimed the lives of all 88 passengers and crew onboard the Aeroflot-Nord airliner. The petition was filed on behalf of Aleksey A. Afanasenkov, Sr., whose son perished in the crash, and seeks documentation and information concerning the individuals or companies that may be responsible for causing the crash.

According to a joint release by the two firms, lawyers on both sides also asserted a formal claim on behalf of Afanasenkov against the United States Federal Aviation Administration "for its failure to properly regulate US training institutions which provided training to the crew of the accident airplane."

According to the law firms, "The US-Russian treaty entitled "Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation for the Promotion of Aviation Safety" entered into force on September 2, 1998. Under the treaty, the US government agreed that the FAA would monitor, among other things, aviation training establishments in the United States providing training to Russian pilots in accordance with the standards, rules, practices, general procedures and Implementation Procedures established pursuant to the treaty."

The firms assert that wasn't done... and the Aeroflot-Nord case is a tragic consequence. "While the investigation of the crash is ongoing and no probable cause determinations have yet been made, the circumstances of the crash have highlighted the dangerous shortcomings in the training of pilots accustomed to Eastern-built aircraft transitioning into operation of Western-built airliners," the law firms claim. "It further highlights the need for proper oversight in the FAA airworthiness certification process of transport category airplanes."

As ANN reported, investigators determined the captain of the accident airplane had little training in the 737-500, relative to his long career piloting Soviet-era airliners... and may not have been comfortably familiar with differences in the avionics between Western and Eastern-bloc aircraft, in particular differences in the style of attitude indicators used.

The law firms say the captain received training in the 737-500 at a US based training institution in 2006, and had 452 hours as pilot-in-command of that model airplane. The first officer began flying the 737-500 airplane earlier this year, and had only 219 total hours in the model airplane. "Both pilots had spent the majority of their careers operating Russian-built aircraft which have some significant technical differences in cockpit instrumentation from Western-built aircraft such as the Boeing 737," the law firms assert.

Aeroflot-Nord has been a regional subsidiary of Russian flag carrier Aeroflot since 2004. In the days after the crash, Aeroflot executives said plans were afoot prior to the accident to cut the airline loose, forcing the airline to revert to its prior name of Arkhangelsk Airlines (AVL). However, at this writing Aeroflot-Nord remains in business, using the same name.

FMI: www.nolan-law.com, www.aeroflot-nord.ru/english/

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