Questions about the training and qualifications of the pilot of a Colgan Air  plane that crashed near Buffalo, New York (NY) in 2009, have been raised by attorneys in the course of wrongful death lawsuits brought by family members of the victims. Emails released by plaintiffs’  attorneys state that the pilot had repeatedly failed tests that would qualify him to operate the Q400 plane he was flying the night of the fatal accident.  

In their lawsuits, the families of victims claim Colgan, its parent company Pinnacle and Continental failed to provide capable and trained pilots and also did not ensure the pilots were sufficiently rested and able to perform the duties expected of them.  

“The National Transportation Safety Board blamed pilot error for the crash nearly a year later, saying that the pilot, Capt. Marvin Renslow, pulled on the Bombardier Dash 8-Q400’s control column when he should have pushed,” CNN reported. The NTSB report also highlighted numerous potential problems with the way this plane was being flown.  It turned up evidence that Renslow and his co-pilot had slept little in the days leading up to the accident and were talking rather than checking the plane’s performance.

This NTSB video provides details about the crash:

Jim Lewis, a Virginia plane crash injury lawyer with our firm, is a pilot who has represented passengers who suffered serious personal injuries in airplane crashes. He has seen many cases in which tiredness put passengers at risk and claimed lives. Driver fatigue caused a tour bus crash on the I-95 in Caroline County, VA earlier this year that killed four passengers. But fatigue in the air can be even more serious because few victims ever walk away from an air crash. Pilot error is a common cause of air crashes. In fact crashes due to pilot errors account for half of all fatal commercial airline accidents since 1950.  

To learn more about about filing a lawsuit in the wake of an airplane accident, read this FAQ.