Primarily for general aviation discussion, but other aviation topics are also welcome.
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By DamienB
#369878
Stunned to find this news story tonight, concerning the apparently successful suing of Yak UK over the deaths of the pilots in Yak-52 G-YAKW. This was the aircraft brought down by a screwdriver wedged in the elevator control assembly. What puzzles me is that the AAIB report found that while the screwdriver came from a trainee's toolbox at the maintenance organisation, the DNA on it was from the pilot and the trainee never used the screwdriver on the aircraft.

So if the AAIB can not state for sure how it got there, how can a court decide it is definitely the maintenance organisation's fault?
User avatar
By G-BLEW
#369882
Hee's an extract from the report

In September 2002 the aircraft, then LY-AKW, entered scheduled maintenance at a specialist maintenance facility for a 50 hour inspection and annual check. It returned to the same organisation in November 2002 to be converted from the Lithuanian register to the UK register.
A trainee mechanic at the maintenance organisation, upon hearing that a loose article had been discovered in G-YAKW, came forward and declared that he had lost a short-handled flat-bladed screwdriver matching the description of the item found in the aircraft. The trainee had started work at
the maintenance organisation in September 2002 and had not worked on LY-AKW during its 50 hour inspection. However, he did work on the aircraft in November 2002. He does not recall ever using the screwdriver on the aircraft and only remembers using it to open a tin of paint away from the
aircraft. Indeed the trainee was never given or accomplished a task that would warrant the use of such a screwdriver. This type of screwdriver is only used on tasks in difficult and restricted areas. The maintenance organisation also claims that screwdrivers of this type are seldom used during normal
maintenance carried out on the aircraft. Subsequent testing of the screwdriver removed from the wreckage, however, revealed DNA matching that of the pilot. This indicated that he had touched it at some time prior to the accident.
The trainee's personal tools were located in two separate tool boxes at the back of the maintenance hangar. The tool boxes were never locked and were left open during the day but closed at night. The trainee had been made fully aware of the dangers of loose articles in aircraft and was reminded of this
on many occasions by the more senior technicians and licensed aircraft engineers (LAE). The borrowing of tools did take place at the organisation and the policy was for the owner to be asked before hand, but if the owner was not present, items could be borrowed without his knowledge. The owner however remained responsible for his own personal tools including ensuring that they were all present and correct. There was no formal tool control at the maintenance organisation.


The full report can be read here

Ian
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By BlueRobin
#369883
Not sure if it is worth noting, but I think the AAIB is inadmissible evidence in any legal action so the report could therefore be at odds with the final verdict. You would need to read (if you can) the transcript of the trial to finds out the specific reasoning here.
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By Gerard Clarke
#369888
In a civil trial liability is decided on the balance of probabilities, based on the evidence put before the Court. An AAIB report is not intended to and does not determine liability.

EDIT: the case was settled, not adjudicated: see my post on page 2.
Last edited by Gerard Clarke on Fri Oct 20, 2006 12:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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By eharding
#369892
Gerard Clarke wrote:In a civil trial liability is decided on the balance of probabilities, based on the evidence put before the Court. An AAIB report is not intended to and does not determine liability.


All very tragic, and quite close to home.

Is there any watertight method of phrasing a Will which would preclude, or at least discourage, any beneficiaries taking action against any maintenance organisation that has laid hands on the aircraft?
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By Flyin'Dutch'
#369902
Is there any watertight method of phrasing a Will which would preclude, or at least discourage, any beneficiaries taking action against any maintenance organisation that has laid hands on the aircraft?


I doubt it, and more to the point would you want it?

Mistakes do get made and if an error or negligence resulted in someone's demise it may not be unreasonable to seek some recourse for that.

It is difficult, especially without looking at the court material, what one should think about this particular case.

Anyone know where one can find the court proceedings on-line?
By Brendan
#369923
I bet the maintenance company has a water tight tool check system in place now.
User avatar
By Pete L
#369935
Can't find a law report online, but on what basis did the judge make his decision?
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By Gerard Clarke
#369939
(1) Basis for the decision.

We do not yet know the details, as the judgment has not been published. In broad terms, however, if the Judge has found for the claimants as the press report suggests (I say "if" because sometimes the press reports consensual settlement of cases as though they were judgments), then the Judge will have been persuaded by the evidence before him that it was more likely than not that the accident was attributable to some lack of care on the part of the maintenance company.

EDIT: Case settled, not adjudicated. No finding on liability, either way.

(2) Copy of the judgment.

If there is a full judgment, it may appear online within a few weeks. It may become freely available on websites such as

http://www.bailii.org/recent-decisions.html

If not published on the free sites (as may be the case if the decision turns on its facts and raises no legal point), the judgment may become available on various subscription services. The trial transcript and evidence will not usually appear online.


EDIT: no judgment. The Judge merely approved the settlement (this was required because two of the claimants were minors).

(3) Wills.

You could not effectively preclude your dependents from seeking compensation in ther event of your death. As FD points out, you might not want to, unless assured that your dependents will be well provided for in the event of your death. Judgments of this kind are based on compensation for loss and are not calculated on a punitive principle.

(4) The AAIB report

The AAIB, in addition to the passage quoted above, said this:-

what is not known and could not be established is how the screwdriver found its way into the aircraft. Screwdrivers of this type are used by pilots to carry out normal routine servicing on the aircraft. All the other pilots who flew the aircraft from November 2002 however were able to account for their tools used for this purpose, and the 'Swiss Army' knife normally used by the pilot involved in the accident was recovered. DNA testing however, showed that the pilot had come into contact with the screwdriver at some point prior to the accident but it could not be established when or how this occurred.
A maintenance trainee at the maintenance organisation admitted to losing a screwdriver whose description matched that of the item found. He also stated that he had not used, or been asked to carry out a task requiring, a screwdriver of that type on any aircraft nor had he ever used the lost screwdriver except to open a tin of paint. As his tools were in open toolboxes it is possible for the tool to have been borrowed and used on G-YAKW without his knowledge


In other words, the AAIB reached no conclusion on how the screwdriver came to be inside the aircraft. If the case went to judgment (EDIT: it didn't] , the Judge's task was different from that of the AAIB, and he had to reach a conclusion one way or another, applying the balance of probabilities.
Last edited by Gerard Clarke on Fri Oct 20, 2006 12:46 pm, edited 3 times in total.
User avatar
By AlexL
#369949
eharding wrote:Is there any watertight method of phrasing a Will which would preclude, or at least discourage, any beneficiaries taking action against any maintenance organisation that has laid hands on the aircraft?


nope, and bear in mind that in many cases it will be your life insurance company that sues.
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By Cub
#370369
EGMJ (LITTLE GRANSDEN) :

AGA : Q)EGTT/QFALT/IV/NBO/A/000/999/5210N00009W005
FROM 06/10/16 11:05 TO PERM L3217/06
E)AD LICENSE REVOKED, AD NOT AVBL FOR ACFT REQUIRING A LICENSED AD FOR OPERATIONS


I trust this has nothing to do with the sad situation?
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By Flyin'Dutch'
#370371
I trust this has nothing to do with the sad situation?


Nothing whatsoever.
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By Chipmunk Carol
#370530
I cannot be certain, but I believe that, as a consequence, there is now a modification available on the Yak-52 which prevents loose items from reaching the tail area.
By SATCO Biggin
#370552
cannot be certain, but I believe that, as a consequence, there is now a modification available on the Yak-52 which prevents loose items from reaching the tail area.


There is now a mandatory FOD barrier at the rear end to help prevent this happening, although it is only made from fabric. There has been one incident where this barrier came loose on a Southend based -52 allowing a mobile phone to create control problems.

There is an inspection panel at the back which can be removed to have a good look. I tend to do this quite frequently although is does mean removing approx 10 screws which is tedious. A while ago we had a see-through panel fitted but this was removed and the solid one put back in place after the CAA complained that it was not an approved mod. I believe this has now been approved and would be a worthwhile investment.
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By eharding
#370599
SATCO Biggin wrote:A while ago we had a see-through panel fitted but this was removed and the solid one put back in place after the CAA complained that it was not an approved mod. I believe this has now been approved and would be a worthwhile investment.


Would be very interested in any references you have re: approval of the clear panel - it is a bit of a pain removing all those screws on a regular basis (although I have heard a theory that the panel itself is a stressed component - hence the reason for so many screws, and hence a clear bit of plastic instead isn't such a good idea)