On Sunday, two people were killed when a small plane crashed shortly after taking off from the Taunton Municipal Airport in Massachusetts. The next day, National Transportation Safety Board investigators announced that the accident may have been caused by a rudder malfunction.
According to reports, the newly-purchased two-seat Aeronca 7AC took off from the airport around 6:10 a.m. and a witness at the airport saw the plane rise just 50 to 100 feet before turning slightly to the right and plummeting to the ground. The 69-year-old pilot and a 61-year-old passenger were killed.
After piecing through the wreckage, investigators with the NTSB said they discovered that a “gust lock” was in place when the plane took off, which is usually only engaged when the plane is in storage or otherwise not being used. The gust lock keeps the rudder locked and should have been disengaged before take-off.
However, a NTSB spokesperson said that they “don’t know the significance or effect it had on the craft.” It will likely take 12 to 18 months for an official probable cause to be determined, the spokesman said.
Apparently, the engine sounded normal prior to take-off, witnesses said. The next step in the investigation will be to determine if negligence or a product defect was involved in the accident. If so, it is possible that a wrongful death lawsuit could result.
Losing a loved one causes not only immense sadness but also anxiety about the future. Although a wrongful death lawsuit will never be able to bring a loved one back or take away the pain caused by the fatal accident, it can help support the family financially during this difficult time.
Source: Boston Globe, “Rudder problem found on crashed plane,” Melissa Hanson, Aug. 26, 2013; CBS Boston, “NTSB: Rudder Malfunction Caused Fatal Taunton Plane Crash,” Aug. 26, 2013