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littlesmoke

Pilot hurt in jet breakup sues Boeing

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Pilot hurt in jet breakup sues Boeing

 

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An Air Force pilot injured when his F-15C fighter broke apart over Missouri in November is suing Boeing, the plane manufacturer, over the accident, according to the pilot's lawyer.

 

The Air Force grounded the F-15 fleet last year after tests found problems with key strips of metal.

 

In the complaint, Maj. Stephen Stilwell details how the F-15 began "shaking violently from side to side" at 18,000 feet during a routine training mission.

 

He says he suffered serious and debilitating injuries to his shoulder and arm when he ejected from the plane as it disintegrated around him, with parts of the plane hitting his body.

 

"Stilwell has suffered disfigurement and an inability to work and perform useful and productive work activities including service as a military and civilian aircraft pilot," according to the lawsuit.

 

Stilwell alleges Boeing knew or should have known the F-15 was defective, dangerous and could result in a catastrophic in-flight breakup as manufactured.

 

The complaint was filed Friday in the U.S. District Court's Eastern District of Missouri, said Morry Cole, Stilwell's lawyer.

 

Boeing has not yet been served with a copy of the lawsuit and has not returned calls from CNN.

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* Read the lawsuit (PDF)

 

Air Force investigators said they found cracks in aircraft parts that failed and were installed without proper safety specifications.

 

The entire fleet of F-15s was grounded while the planes were inspected.

 

Most returned to the skies, though several remained grounded with similar cracks discovered.

 

The planes were built by defense contractor McDonnell Douglas, which was later bought by Boeing Corp.

 

Cole said he would not answer any specifics about the lawsuit until they were brought up in court.

Edited by littlesmoke

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what a load of BS. Just because a plane crashed it doesn't mean that it's the manufactuer's fault. While he's at it he should sue the crew chief for not maintaining his plane, the Air Force for giving him a defective plane, and the state of Missouri because it's air broke his plane apart.

 

Besides, he survived, didn't he? most people would be happy that, of all things, the ejector seat didn't defect.

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Anyone know what the original specified fatigue life of the F-15 was? I'll wager all of them are tired.

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Anyone know what the original specified fatigue life of the F-15 was? I'll wager all of them are tired.

 

Yeah, it's always seemed weird to me that we expect airframes to take 30+ years of abuse. Why not just build some more?

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Guest Bounder

Lets face it alot of our Air Force AC are just old , and no matter what the maintenance. They just break. I can remember back in the mid 70's The old Nam Huey's just failing from over use. If we needed a flight of 8 for a mission we took 12,as at least 1 would break down.

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Theres two sides of this,

 

First,

 

Why were the cracks not noticed, Should his ground crew be hung or are the problems in an area that would require a full teardown of each jet to locate. These jets are pushed hard, things weaken over time and many have alot of flight time on them. If these cracks generate in an area that is not exposed during regular maintence its a case of bad luck. Accidents happen.

 

Second,

 

Put Yourself in the Pilots shoes, You had your dream job and was making a decent living at it. Due to no error of your own its taken away and bills start adding up. His plane fell apart around him, just imagine that for a minute. By Luck or Grace he survived. This was probably the most tramatic thing this guy ever went through, He was injured and probably mentally messed up. Don't you think you would want and deserve to be paid?

 

I'm sure alot will come out in the lawsuit, If Boeing knew this could happen then god help em, but if its just a accident that will come out in court.

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Anyone know what the original specified fatigue life of the F-15 was? I'll wager all of them are tired.

 

Don't know about the Eagle, but there was article on our webpage today congratulating an ANG unit that has the first F-16C to break 7,000 hours. The unit's average life was over 5,500.

 

The article said the original airframe life was suppose to be just 4,000 hours.

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Hmm. Disposable fighters being used long-term. Therein lies the problem. And there's not much that can be done, with small military budgets and expensive fighters.

 

At least they all have ejector seats.

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Theres two sides of this,

 

First,

 

Why were the cracks not noticed, Should his ground crew be hung or are the problems in an area that would require a full teardown of each jet to locate. These jets are pushed hard, things weaken over time and many have alot of flight time on them. If these cracks generate in an area that is not exposed during regular maintence its a case of bad luck. Accidents happen.

 

Second,

 

Put Yourself in the Pilots shoes, You had your dream job and was making a decent living at it. Due to no error of your own its taken away and bills start adding up. His plane fell apart around him, just imagine that for a minute. By Luck or Grace he survived. This was probably the most tramatic thing this guy ever went through, He was injured and probably mentally messed up. Don't you think you would want and deserve to be paid?

 

I'm sure alot will come out in the lawsuit, If Boeing knew this could happen then god help em, but if its just a accident that will come out in court.

 

 

 

THE mil TAKES CARE OF ITS OWN:

first his going against policy by a lawsuit remember he is not a civilian. And being hurt on duty he is inti tailed to full military health and recovery,up to a workable level. If not he is going to get disability pay. On just a broken shoulder,and TBI (traumatic brain injury) I have been reciving full mil pay,and health care at no cost to me from my home. If I don't fully recover I can be retrained,or medically retired at full pay.

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Yeah, it's always seemed weird to me that we expect airframes to take 30+ years of abuse. Why not just build some more?

 

If it was so easy to 'build some more' then there probably would be no 30+ year old airframes at all... :wink:

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his job is dangerous.. he knew that the minute he got into his jet...

i don't think he has a case but only in America he has a chance in court :D

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Theres two sides of this,

 

First,

 

Why were the cracks not noticed, Should his ground crew be hung or are the problems in an area that would require a full teardown of each jet to locate. These jets are pushed hard, things weaken over time and many have alot of flight time on them. If these cracks generate in an area that is not exposed during regular maintence its a case of bad luck. Accidents happen.

 

Second,

 

Put Yourself in the Pilots shoes, You had your dream job and was making a decent living at it. Due to no error of your own its taken away and bills start adding up. His plane fell apart around him, just imagine that for a minute. By Luck or Grace he survived. This was probably the most tramatic thing this guy ever went through, He was injured and probably mentally messed up. Don't you think you would want and deserve to be paid?

 

I'm sure alot will come out in the lawsuit, If Boeing knew this could happen then god help em, but if its just a accident that will come out in court.

 

Excellent analysis. Key legal component is whether Boeing knew this could happen and did nothing. Tough case to prove.

 

You pays your nickle and takes your chances. If you get your dream job, you're buzzing around in equipment that was built by the lowest-bidder. The risk is what you accept when you strap the jet to your backside. My gut feeling is to stop whining about the outcome of a rough day. It is just bad karma that the rain fell on your parade today. At least your walking away from the encounter. Suck it up and go Eagle driver, you're alive!

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hmmm...... :blink:

 

my question is did the crew chief do THEIR job? :dntknw:

 

 

The area in question would not be in the routine maintenance realm of the crew chief...the question is what the heck is depot doing these days? Those are the guys probably shredding paperwork right now...

 

Have seen a very disturbing trend of late of jets coming out of depot, with write-ups! That NEVER would have happened in the past, now it is happening in more MDS (types).

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Well one thing's for sure the lawyers are going to have a field day with this one. They just love this kind of stuff. Keeps 'em in pencils and large cars etc. :biggrin:

 

Thankfully the pilot survived and no doubt he deserves compensation from someone.

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Its not the pilot, crew chief, or Air Forces fault if the older F-15 has a design flaw which comes out with age. The youngest F-15A is what mid late 80's the last was built 20-25 years old. The C came onlone late 80's some of those were remanufactured A's. Now the C was cleared and the E on is a diffrent bird structuraly it was designed for the air to ground role w/out loosing the air to air. You can't blame the ground crew they are trained to maintain within their "scope" or level of training given to them by the Airforce "there all robots" Jack Black. The crew are not trained as areonautical enginers, which possible, if the problem was known they would be able to monitor and take corrective measures to fix or Baind-Aid. Example: the F-111 wing carry through box over time from ACM begins to have micro cracks, the fix after so many hours the aicraft is pulled from front line service and the crews polish that structre till the cracks and sracthes are gone. So whos to blame, only the court can decide that, but I think you may see Boeing bite the sh_t sandwich and settle on a mistake that was made 35 years ago when the aircraft was being designed (remember this plane is old they didnt have the high tech computer models that could put this plane through 30 years of service). So next time you see a crew chief give him or her a hand shake and a thanks for keeping what they didn't design flying. :clapping: Later be safe :good:

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I had read somewhere that the longerons were built by a subcontractor and that the thickness was much less in some places than specified. Boeing may be liable if they let these pieces get past QC and into the airframes. More than likely they are going after a manufacturers defect or negligence.

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what a load of BS. Just because a plane crashed it doesn't mean that it's the manufactuer's fault. While he's at it he should sue the crew chief for not maintaining his plane, the Air Force for giving him a defective plane, and the state of Missouri because it's air broke his plane apart.

 

Besides, he survived, didn't he? most people would be happy that, of all things, the ejector seat didn't defect.

 

The usual, anyone can be held liable over a defect of a simple matter of neglience. If a hot cup of coffee can cause such a huge issue in the court, I don't see a reason to be surprised over this. Of course, if defects do happen, they deserve compensation for what happened.

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The usual, anyone can be held liable over a defect of a simple matter of neglience. If a hot cup of coffee can cause such a huge issue in the court, I don't see a reason to be surprised over this. Of course, if defects do happen, they deserve compensation for what happened.

 

Agreed, someone needs to be accountable for this before it starts killing our pilts.

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...Let's not forget about the hulaboo/(whatever word you can substitute for it) in the past (some years back, I think) over the fact that F-22 cockpits that fail to open (IIRC it was during final tests). That was a big issue regarding the reliability of the F-22.

Edited by kct

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I think that was one F-22's cockpit in a single instance. I'm sure there have been many instances over the years of other planes with stuck canopies. The major deal here was it was the newest plane in inventory, the plane is expensive, and they had to saw the canopy open to unstick it. I hardly think a single instance like that could call into question the entire plane's design.

That's like saying the US military's reliability should be called into question because one soldier kills his wife or another rapes a civilian. Machines are machines, people are people.

 

Only reason I would normally think of a lawsuit like this is for medical bills, but as noted the gov't is supposed to pay for all that. If he's going to be permanently grounded over it, I don't think it would be a career-ender. Maybe it won't be the same career he envisioned, but if he'd been shot down by a SAM over enemy territory he'd likely not be in any better shape, and you can't sue insurgents or another country for shooting you down and ruining your career!

 

I'm just not sure what to make of this.

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