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    « Get the Instrument Rating in a Glass Cockpit or Round Gauge Airplane? | Main | Northwest Airlines Flight 188 Pilot Explains How Plane Overshot Minneapolis »


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    Matthew Stibbe

    It's this sort of thing that makes foreigners (like me) shake their head in disbelief at the US legal system.

    Pilot makes bad decision. Manufacturer and instructor 75% liable. How does that work?

    (And while we're at it, what's the deal with all the guns but no healthcare?)

    Russell Still

    Seems to me to be another case of lawyers and plaintiffs abusing the system in order to earn income. In my opinion, this type of behavior is one of the major reasons our healthcare costs so much. Just one more step down the road to killing general aviation.

    Mike Danko

    The NTSB has a built-in conflict of interest and almost always favors the industry over pilots. So no real surprise that the NTSB laid all the blame on the pilot in this case; that's par for the course.


    That's ludicrous. The NTSB findings can't be dismissed - I disagree that it is par for the course for the pilot to receive full blame.

    Regardless, I find it incredible that the court case could come to that conclusion without reference to the NTSB - if there is a problem with the accident investigation, then surely that must be dealt with, not simply ignored.

    S. Barton

    Mr. O'Fallon,

    You need your head examined for even taking a case that represents complete stupidity exhibited by your client(s). If I didn't feel competent to fly the aircraft I would have requested more training before I decided to go out and fly in marginal VFR conditions. If I didn't understand the instruments I would have never flown the aircraft until I had a complete understanding. I certainly don't need an instructor to tell me when or if I need additional instruction, I think thats up to me the pilot to make that determination. What's wrong with putting the responsibility where it lies, on the pilot for being a complete idiot killing an innocent victum.


    This I believe is as stated above, is what is killing GA. Stupid decisions by over egotistico pilots. The pilot did not know how to operate the autopilot, and did not take the time to LEARN. 2oo hrs, and let me go buy an aircraft where outside of my ability..surprised he did not just get a citation..
    I have seen that alot the past few years..low time pilots who can't even handle a c 172 profiecently buying a/c way too much for them to handle....again, people with more money then brains..
    and along with that, lets kill someone else, not just myself...

    vfr into imc is taught as a private pilot requirement..did everyone forget that..
    the auto pilot is not to blame, nor is the und, or cirrus for stupidity!!!

    This case is probably long gone by now, but neither should have received money from UND OR CIRRUS. the passenger who was probably a friend of the pilot assumed he knew what he was doing. If anyone should pay, then it would be the pilot's estate..which again I do not agree with..why should the family be put through all that because of a non thinking pilot...

    I know of a pilot who finished training at my local airport with 60 hrs who went out and brought a Diamond..with 60 hrs..but he has money and wants the prestige of having a brand new airplane...one that is above his experience level..I have seen this action not less then 4 times in the past 2 yrs.


    Matt E.

    As a student pilot with only 30.7 hours, I can understand being overwhelmed by aircraft systems and new flight characteristics. What I object to in this situation is that the airplane manufacturer and their contracted training provider were found 75% liable. That doesn't work for me, because regardless of training unless the CFI and Cirrus were out there forcing him to takeoff, the pilot made the choice to ignore sound judgment and warnings by others.

    On a more cynical note, I guess it is good to know that if I crash a plane and die, it is mostly my flight instructor's/school's fault and that given litigation on behalf of my family, my wife will enjoy flying in her new jet.


    All of your comments are good observations, and I agree with most of them. As a GA pilot and 20+ year attorney with extensive trial experience, I want to throw in my thoughts. First, I made the transition from a C172 to a 300hp Cherokee Six (with autopilot) about three years ago with about 200 hours of flight time, just like the deceased pilot. It was very demanding moving to this high performance aircraft. I am not IFR trained at this time, but I now have more than 300 hours, over 100 hours in type. I recently made a night VFR flight of about two hour duration. I did this only because the weather was severe clear for the entire route of flight, and all systems in my plane are understood by me and were working perfectly. Also, my route of flight had many options for a set down in the event of equipment failure or if I became uncomfortable. Point is, night VFR can be done safely,as you all well know, so long as the pilot has committed his/her full attention to taking every precaution to avoid the potential unpleasantries that could be presented by the situation. I KNEW there would be no IMC, and if IMC had been even a remote possibility, I would have canceled. I cannot fathom making the decision to make this flight in a high performance a/c if I had the level of experience "in type" the deceased pilot had at the time of his last flight.

    Second, you are all obviously correct - we know from our personal experience - that VFR flight into IMC is covered over and over by our instructors, but recall from the summary above and the video, the issue at trial was largely the Cirrus-specific training that was alleged to be the problem, not the general flight instruction given to obtain flying privileges. There was evidence presented -- that the jury apparently believed -- that a portion of the mfr's training, specifically the a/p assisted procedure to be used when IMC is encountered, was not covered as required in the training syllabus.

    This case certainly appears to fall exclusively on the pilot as reported by the NTSB, but having read many NTSB reports, I don't recall many (any?) where the NTSB passed on the adequacy or inadequacy of training. Such commentary by the NTSB is rare, unless the accident involves a student pilot. They tend to focus on the actions of the pilot, the condition of the a/c and controller actions. Rarely does the NTSB delve into the more troublesome quesion of whether the pilot error was related to training.

    Now on to the harder, less understood part of this matter - the civil justice system. It "usually" works. Far more often than not, the system reaches the correct result. But juries are not experts at either the law or in this caes flying and flight instruction, and the result appears to pilots as being - well - just wrong. I am always cautious to pass judgment on a jury verdict based on a superficial trial summary without more detailed knowledge of the trial evidence. I would like to think that Cirrus and UND will appeal, but one of the many problems with our civil justice system is the amount of weight that is given to the outcome of a trial by courts of appeal. The typical resolution of cases in this posture is for the parties to reach a settlement, as both parties have significant risk of proceeding to appeal.

    Good flying!


    I am a Commercial- Instrument rated pilot, I've got one phrase that sums up what happened-

    Was the dead guy quailified by the regulations to BE PIC?

    If so....the only people to make out on this deal was the lawyers. The family of the deceased, well he's still gone. Money won't fix that.


    Let us not forget the basic instrument training we all receive while pursuing the PPL. Aside from VFR into IMC training, all private pilots should (some apparently don't), understand at the very least how to read and interpret an attitude indicator/artificial horizon. Not to mention the VSI, altimeter and TC all easily accessible on the PFD. Glass or gauge, experienced on the particular aircraft or not, any pilot should posses the very basic understanding of flight instruments, especially when flying VFR into IMC with very little time "in type." Although not the case for everyone, when I finished my private, I was competently shooting precision and most non-precision instrument approaches, as well as navigating quite proficiently via VOR, NDB, GPS, etc. Despite the pilot's unfamiliarity with the SR22, he should've been able to at least level the wings, and stabilize the aircraft even if utilizing only 1 of the 5+ instruments at his arsenal. All in all, the fault herein lies with the pilot, not with Cirrus instructor.


    Nora Nhok

    As a Student Pilot with only 25 hours in a C172 I often think about it and cannot understand how someone can lose it, with only a little training on the basic instruments you should be able to survive and bring it back to land safely, unless he was flying very low to begin with in a mountain-es area.


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