Kreindler Represents Victims of Fatal Cessna 550 Air Ambulance Crash into Lake Michigan
Kreindler has investigated the fatal crash of a Cessna Citation II 550 business jet, registration number N550BP, registered to Air Toy, Inc. and leased from Marlin Air, Inc. as a 14 CFR Part 135 air medical flight for the University of Michigan Health System. The airplane crashed into Lake Michigan shortly after takeoff from General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Kreindler partners Jim Kreindler, Brian Alexander and Dan Rose are working on the cases.
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Investigators looking into the fatal crash into Lake Michigan of the EMS air ambulance jet will certainly want to examine the maintenance records of the Cessna 550 in light of reports the pilot radioed a problem with a runaway trim prior to the crash. Trim was an issue in the crash of a Cessna 525 in Washington State in 2002. No one died in the 2002 accident, but as a result, the FAA mandated changes to that model airplane two years ago. Like the Cessna 550, the Cessna 525 is a twin-engine business jet, but is a different Cessna model from the air ambulance that crashed.
Four men and two pilots were killed shortly after taking off from Milwaukee to deliver organs to a patient awaiting a transplant at the University of Michigan in Detroit.
This accident brings together two important air safety concerns, the disproportionately large number of fatal accidents in emergency medical aviation and the complicated operational links in chartered aircraft.
Partner Justin Green is a helicopter and fixed-wing pilot and aviation attorney with Kreindler & Kreindler in New York. Mr. Green is also the author of the 2006 article on hazards in medical aviation, When Rescue Is Too Risky.
Because the ambulance that crashed was owned by one entity, flown by another on behalf of third-the medical center, oversight of maintenance will have to be examined.
The 16-year-old Cessna 550 jet was owned by Toy Air, a Michigan company, but was offered for lease by Marlin Air, an FAA-authorized air ambulance operation also in Michigan. FAA regulations require that Marlin Air be in control of all aspects of the aircraft from its maintenance to its pilots to the decisions to take or decline a flight.
It is still too early to determine what caused the tragic deaths of six highly trained men on a flight designed to save lives, but the accident in Milwaukee should refocus attention on the potential for problems when private planes are leased out for charter flights.
In the past few years, the FAA has grown increasingly concerned about authorized operators using aircraft, personnel and maintenance facilities not under their own control, and new rules were established to address the issue.
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Photo Credit: Cessna Citation II 550 airplane, Bob Adams