General Aviation. Direct & Unfiltered. - Aviation Industry News. Direct. Unfilted.
Blameless Pilot Syndrome? Is it even possible?
On June 1, 2010, Preston Cavner, a commercial-rated pilot, took off from Anchorage's Merrill Field and flew a couple blocks into the corner of an empty building. His grossly overloaded, out-of-CG C-206 caught fire.
[For the NTSB report, see]

His son, Myles, burned to death, stuck under the panel, even as rescuers, horrified at the child's screams, did everything they could to save him.
Cavner's wife, on whose lap the young boy was seated, his babysitter in the rear, with his other son seated on her lap, as well as the pilot himself, all suffered terrible burns.

Additionally, survivors suffered broken bones and body parts that were burned off. A most-awful crash.

But the pilot and his victims seem to be suffering from BPS (Blameless Pilot Syndrome), and the resurrected lawsuit (link in the Headlines, above) says that he routinely overloaded his aircraft (admitting to overloading it "hundreds of times annually" in the court filings, though he had purchased the plane only in late 2009 and claimed 90-100 hours in that aircraft, with a month-old logbook entry showing just over 80). His sons, 2 and 4 at the time, were not wearing seat belts, nor were they in their own seats, as required by FAR 105. His overweight cargo (including over 330 flooring tiles and more than 40 2 x 4-8s, plus 170+ pounds of groceries) was secured, it seems, by potted plants, leaving only three seats available.

The NTSB said, "The gross weight of the airplane at the time of the accident was conservatively calculated to be 4,258.2 pounds or 658.2 pounds over the approved gross weight of the accident airplane. The exact location of each piece of cargo could not be determined. The center of gravity at the time of the accident was estimated to range between 53.65 inches and 58.522 inches, or between 3.95 and 8.82 inches aft of the rear-most allowable limit."
He seems to have used the wrong flap settings for takeoff, as well.

Cavner sat alone in the pilot's seat; his wife, Stacie, with 4-y-o Myles on her lap, sat right-front. In the rear were the 16-y-o babysitter, Rachel Zientek and Hudson, then two years old, in her lap.

Cavner (post crash) says he estimated his gross takeoff weight at 4140 pounds.

The short story: the plaintiffs, after having broken the mechanic, went after TCM, and are now looking at a new trial, granted by the appellate court.

It is also interesting to note that Cavner has faced no prosecution for any of a plethora of possible charges: negligent homicide; child endangerment; reckless endangerment; operating a vehicle in a negligent or dangerous manner; or any of the other charges that would be brought against the operator of a land-based vehicle operated in the same manner.

The FAA suspended his license for a year.

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