When their twin-engine Cessna Skymaster experienced engine trouble, crashed and caught fire shortly after taking off from an Atlanta, Georgia (GA), airfield in 2007, it was unclear whether the dermatologist and professional pilot from Ohio (OH) would survive the third-degree burns, broken bones and head injuries they suffered. While the doctor and his fiance pulled through, both were left permanently disabled; the dermatologist returned to his skin cancer specialty practice but has difficulty walking, and the one-time pilot had to surrender her license to fly because lung damage makes her unable to pass a required FAA physical.
In a measure of justice, the man and woman recently received an $11.35 million jury award against the company they had trusted to maintain their plane. Evidence presented by plaintiffs’ attorneys Jamie R. Lebovitz and Arthur Allen Wolk at trial showed that Winner Aviation had failed to perform regular required maintenance on the front and rear engines of the couples’ small airplane.
This video hints at the complexity of the Cessna Skymater’s rear engine and the attention to detail needed to maintain it properly:
As a longtime pilot myself, I know how important it is to keep a plane in proper repair and how much private airplane owners rely on service companies to do this. When paid mechanics fail to identify and fix problems — and especially when maintenance personnel fail to prevent problems — anyone injured as a result of that negligence should receive compensation for their medical treatment costs, pain and suffering and loss of quality of life.