The deaths of three people, including the son of NBC television executive Richard Ebersol, in the crash of a chartered jet on November 28, 2004, in Montrose, CO, further confirm a dangerous design flaw on the airplane's wings that has already been implicated in a similar accident in 2002, claim attorneys for the pilot of the Colorado crash.
On Tuesday, May 2, 2006, when the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determines the probable cause of the crash carrying the Ebersol family, it should address the particular susceptibility of the Canadair Challenger 600 to icing on the wings, according to attorney Brian Alexander of Kreindler & Kreindler LLP in New York, which represents the family of pilot Luis A. Polanco-Espaillat, also killed in the crash.
Bombardier, manufacturer of the Challenger, did not admit until after the Montrose crash that potentially dangerous wing contamination might be too small for pilots to see, even though this problem had been identified and made clear to the manufacturer by British aviation investigators after a similar Challenger jet crash in January 2002.
British authorities had called for improved procedures for ice detection, realizing that an unsafe amount of ice, snow, slush or frost might be present on the wings but invisible to the flight crew. Before the tragic accident, the pilots of Mr. Ebersol's charter flight viewed the wings and determined they were in "good" and "clear" condition.
"Aviation accidents are typically the result of multiple contributing factors, but the bottom line in this case is that Bombardier never advised Challenger pilots that contamination too small to be seen can cause a catastrophic loss of control on takeoff," Mr. Alexander said. "Knowing the particular susceptibility of these wings, the manufacturer owed it to all passengers and crew to advise the pilots that they must actually touch the wings to be sure they are safe."
Shortly after the crash the NTSB noted that non-slatted turbo jet transport aircraft (such as the Challenger) have been involved in a disproportionate number of crashes on takeoff where ice was a contributing factor. In a December 29, 2004 advisory it wrote,
Despite the accident and research evidence indicating that small, almost visually imperceptible amounts of ice accumulation on the upper surface of a wing can cause the same aerodynamic penalties as much larger (and more visible) ice accumulations, recent accidents indicate that the pilot community still may not appreciate the potential consequences of small amounts of ice.
Mr. Alexander and Eusebio Polanco-Espaillat, the brother of Captain Polanco-Espaillat, are available to answer questions about the upcoming NTSB hearing and the important air safety issues related to this tragic crash. Please contact me at the numbers below for more information or to arrange an interview.