Six passengers who survived a fiery October 2011 plane crash on Russ Baker Way are suing the charter airline, alleging its staff ignored a pool of leaking oil under the plane’s wing before taking off.
The six filed a suit in B.C. Supreme Court Friday against Northern Thunderbird Air Inc. for general and special damages as well as their health care costs after the crash, which injured another passenger and eventually killed the two pilots.
None of the allegations have been proved in court.
The crash occurred after the King Air 100, which had departed from Vancouver International Airport for a charter flight to Kelowna, turned around 15 minutes into the trip because of an oil leak in its left engine.
Motorists stopped in rush-hour traffic on Russ Baker Way ran to pull the passengers and pilots out of the burning plane.
Carolyn Cross, the lone passenger not suing the company, told the media immediately after the horrific crash that she owed her life to the heroic efforts of the two pilots and countless other people who saved her.
Monday, she said she is too preoccupied with getting her business back on track and recovering from her lingering leg and concussion injuries to contemplate a lawsuit.
“My first priority is to get my health back and to understand what’s long-term, what’s permanent, what isn’t,” Cross said. “Lawsuits are very negative energy and I just didn’t have a shred of energy left to deal with any of that sort of stuff.
The passengers in the suit allege that the airline is vicariously liable for the negligence of the crew.
Cross did say that “there was certainly talk about (leaked) fuel on the ground before we got in the plane.”
A representative of Northern Thunderbird was unavailable for comment Monday evening.
The crew didn’t declare an emergency and were in the process of conducting a visual landing when less than half a mile from the runway at an altitude of 300 feet, the aircraft suddenly banked to the left and pitched nose down.
“The captain was able to level the wings and pull the nose up slightly before impact with a paved road,” said an interim report on the crash released by the Transportation Safety Board last February.
The interim TSB report made no mention of an oil leak and categorized the accident as a “loss of control,” TSB regional manager Bill Yearwood said Monday.
“We are just at the stage of receiving comments back from the reviewers of the confidential draft and once that is reviewed and the report adjusted based on those comments, it will be fit for publishing — which should take a few months,” Yearwood said.
The interim TSB report said all the people on board sustained serious bone fractures as the result of de-acceleration injuries and only one passenger was capable of forcing open the aircraft’s main door, which was twisted and jammed shut.
All the people on-board would likely have survived their injuries but the pilots, Luc Fortin, 44, and Matt Robic, 26, died in hospital later from burns as they were the last to be rescued.
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