Monday, February 22, 2016

Piper PA-46-350P Malibu Mirage, C-GVZW: Accident occurred February 22, 2015 near Felts Field Airport (KSFF), Spokane, Washington

SPOKANE, Wash. – The family of a pilot who died from his injuries in a Spokane plane crash after the wrong fuel was filled into his plane has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the refueling company.

Monday marked one year since the crash at Spokane's Hamilton Street overpass.

Michael Clements, 61, from Alberta was on his way to California and stopped at Felts Field to refuel.

His plane crashed shortly after takeoff.  He died at the hospital two days later from severe injuries.

The NTSB investigation later confirmed his Piper Malibu was filled with Jet A fuel, instead of the AV gas the aircraft required.

The lawsuit claimed it was a Western Aviation employee who filled the plane full of the wrong fuel, pumping 52 gallons of Jet A into the two tanks over the wings.

The lawsuit also claimed that employee ignored and disregarded numerous safety measures designed to avoid that type of error.

Aviation experts said pump nozzles for the two types of fuel are supposed to be different, but in this case, the lawsuit stated the fuel attendant used a "rogue nozzle," allowing the plane to be filled with the wrong fuel.

The lawsuit also stated the employee ignored labels on the aircraft itself that warned to only fill the plane with AV gas.

The attorney handling the case for Clements family said the family is deeply saddened on the one year anniversary of his death.

The attorney added the family’s experts continue to independently and thoroughly investigate the accident and identify the responsible parties.

Western Aviation did not return calls seeking comment on whether the company had changed its refueling regulations.

The FAA and NTSB said the investigation into what happened is still in the preliminary stage.  Neither agency said when it expected to complete the investigation.

Original article can be found here:

NTSB Identification: WPR15LA111
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, February 22, 2015 in Spokane, WA
Aircraft: PIPER PA46 - 350P, registration: CGVZW
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On February 22, 2015, at 1405 Pacific standard time, a Piper Aircraft, Inc., PA46-350P airplane, Canadian registry CGVZW, experienced a loss of engine power during climb out from runway 22R at Felts Field Airport (SFF), Spokane, Washington. The Canadian certificated pilot, the sole occupant, succumbed to his injuries on February 24, 2015. The airplane was destroyed during the attempted emergency landing after it struck a railroad track. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the instrument flight rules (IFR) flight that originated shortly before the accident. The flight was destined for the Stockton Metropolitan Airport (SCK) Stockton, California. 

A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator and a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector responded to the accident site and identified two different groups of witnesses. The first set of witnesses observed the airplane with the engine sputtering. They observed the left wing drop and the nose pitch up. The right wing then dropped, and the witnesses lost sight of the airplane as it passed behind a building. The second set of witnesses reported that the right wing struck a railroad track at the top of a hill and subsequently traveled down an embankment. The witnesses reported that the airplane slid across a road and came to rest inverted adjacent to the bottom of a railroad bridge. 

Responding investigators stated that the majority of the airplane came to rest at the accident site, with additional wreckage strewn throughout the debris path. Both of the wings had separated from the airplane fuselage; however, they remained near the main wreckage. The investigators stated that the fuel tanks ruptured during the accident sequence, and there was a strong smell of Jet fuel present. 

The FAA inspector obtained the fueling log from Western Aviation at SFF; the fuel log indicated that the accident airplane had been refueled with 52 gallons of Jet fuel prior to takeoff.

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