On December 8, 2011, a 1969 Piper PA-28R-200, N2611R, equipped with a Lycoming IO360 SER engine crashed during an apparent forced landing near Coupeville, Washington. The airplane was registered to and owned by Whidbey Island Navy Flying Club, Oak Harbor, Washington. Tragically, the pilot, Michael Scovill Heaton Sr. was killed in the crash. The flight originated from the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station (NUW), Oak Harbor, Washington, about an hour prior to the crash.
Examination by the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC) revealed that the airplane impacted a hill side about 50 feet below the top of a ridge line adjacent to an open field and came to rest upright. There were several reports citing FAA sources indicating that there may have been a power failure before the crash.
Based on the preliminary reports we expect the NTSB's investigation to focus on the airworthiness of the engine. Kreindler & Kreindler LLP has litigated numerous cases against Lycoming and various maintenance entities responsible for the airworthiness of the aircraft and its engines. A faulty carburetor is often found to be the cause of many engine failure accidents in reciprocating engines like the Lycoming IO 360. Notably, as a result of our prior litigation efforts one of the major carburetor manufacturers redesigned the carburetor to overcome the dangers and design defects highlighted in our investigation and lawsuits. Also, several of our pilots have been members of military flying clubs like the one located at Whidbey Island and are familiar with the insurance coverage issues associated with such clubs. If you have any questions concerning the accident please contact us.