Plane crash survivor seeks $10 million from manufacturer

August 17, 1994|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Sun Staff Writer

A survivor of an April 1993 plane crash in Edgewater is seeking $10 million in damages in a civil lawsuit he filed last week against the manufacturer of the craft's engine.

Frederickus Johannas Giltay III of Ellicott City contends in the suit that a faulty exhaust valve caused the plane to suffer engine problems and crash in a cornfield near Lee Airport in Anne Arundel County on April 17, 1993.

The makers of the engine -- Textron Inc. of Providence, R.I., and its subsidiary, Textron Lycoming Reciprocating Engine Division of Williamsport, Pa. -- are named as defendants in the suit, which was filed in Howard Circuit Court on Aug. 10.

Officials at Textron declined to comment on the suit. Mr. Giltay and his attorney, Nicholas Gilman of Washington, could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Giltay, 23, suffered massive burns, anxiety, mental anguish and other permanent disabilities because of the crash, the suit says. He was burned over 80 percent of his body, officials said after the crash.

The pilot of the plane, 23-year-old Brian Keith Duffy of Ellicott City, was killed.

Mr. Giltay and Mr. Duffy were traveling in a 1973 Piper, ppTC four-seater single-engine plane, headed for Ocean City. They had taken off from an airport in Frederick.

Anne Arundel County Fire Department officials said that Mr. Duffy had radioed the tower at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, saying he had lost partial power in the plane's engine. He was instructed to land at Lee Airport, south of Annapolis.

A Lee Airport flight instructor, who was in radio contact with the pilot, said Mr. Duffy tried to make an emergency landing and came within five feet of touching down on the runway before a heavy tail wind prevented the landing.

After missing the runway, Mr. Duffy tried to turn the plane around but it clipped a power line, crashed upside down in a cornfield and burst into flames, the instructor said.

Two Anne Arundel police officers who rushed to the airport after the crash managed to douse the flames with fire extinguishers and rescue Mr. Giltay. Most of the fire was on the pilot's side of the craft.

A National Transportation Safety Board report says the primary reason for the crash was Mr. Duffy's selection of the wrong runway for the landing, causing the plane to inadvertently strike the power lines.

But the agency also cites a fractured exhaust valve that caused the engine to lose power while the plane was in flight as a related factor for the accident.

The agency's investigators noted in the report that maintenance personnel who serviced the plane did not comply with service bulletins regarding the inspection and replacement of the valve.

But in the lawsuit, Mr. Giltay contends that Textron's service manuals and repair instructions were poorly written and distributed. He contends Textron is negligent for failing to manufacture engine components that worked safely and properly.

Mr. Giltay has requested a jury trial for his suit, but no court proceedings have been scheduled yet.

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