Skip to comments.F-22 crash prompts lawsuit by pilot's widow
Posted on 03/13/2012 5:22:55 PM PDT by Yo-Yo
The wife of deceased US Air Force F-22 Raptor pilot Captain Jeff "Bong" Haney is suing contractors Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Pratt and Whitney and Honeywell in connection with the 16 November 2010 crash that took his life.
The complaint was filed on 5 March 2012 in a court in Cook County, Illinois, by Michael Demetrio, a lawyer representing Anna Haney. The lawsuit seeks compensation, which would be chosen by the court, for Haney and her two daughters Ava and Stella Rose under the Wrongful Death Act.
Prime contractor Lockheed is responsible for the overall production of the Raptor, but Boeing as a major sub-contractor integrated the aircraft's life-support system. Honeywell builds the on-board oxygen generating system (OBOGS) and environmental control systems (ECS). Meanwhile Pratt and Whitney makes the F119 engine and associated bleed-air system-which supplies the entire life-support apparatus with oxygen.
The lawsuit alleges that the contractors designed and built the F-22 Raptor with defective life-support systems including the OBOGS, ECS and bleed air system. The suit also alleges that system was built without adequate backup safety measures or proper sensors to warn the pilot if there is a problem.
Moreover, the plaintiff alleges that the oxygen supplied to the operator is often contaminated with harmful chemicals via the aircraft OBOGS, ECS and engine bleed air system. Sometimes the system doesn't supply enough oxygen when needed, nor does it have an automatic backup in case of a failure, the lawsuit says.
Particularly, the suit notes that the manually operated backup oxygen bottle is placed in a difficult to reach spot behind the pilot and that the bleed air system is a single point of failure.
The Haney's lawsuit alleges that the contractors knowingly supplied the air force with a defective aircraft-intentionally jeopardizing the lives of aircrew.
In a statement, Lockheed expressed sympathy for Haney's family, but said it didn't agree with the allegations.
"The loss of the pilot and aircraft in November 2010 was a tragic event and we sympathize with the family for their loss," Lockheed says. "We are aware that a complaint that makes a variety of claims associated with the accident has been filed with the court in Cook County. We do not agree with those allegations and we will respond to them through the appropriate legal process."
Boeing officials say they cannot comment on pending litigation. Pratt and Whitney say that it has not yet received any notice of pending legal actions and that it is "inappropriate" to comment until it receives notification.
Honeywell, meanwhile, says its product is not responsible.
"The US Air Force conducted a thorough aircraft accident investigation regarding the F-22A crash near Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska in accordance with standard flight safety procedures," Honeywell says. "The report concluded that Honeywell's on-board oxygen generation system was not the cause of the November 2010 F-22 crash."
Last year, a USAF accident investigation board held Haney responsible for the crash because he failed to activate the emergency oxygen system when his F-22's oxygen system was automatically shutdown due a still-unexplained malfunction of the jets bleed air system.
Accident board president Brig Gen James Browne states in that report: "I find the cause of the mishap was the [mishap pilot's] failure to recognise and initiate a timely dive recovery due to channelised attention, breakdown of visual scan and unrecognised spatial disorientation."
Later on 6 March, USAF chief of staff General Norton Schwartz seemed to backtrack.
"We did not assign blame to the pilot," Schwartz told the US Congress on 6 March. He acknowledged that the aircraft's bleed air intakes - from which the jet's oxygen is derived - had shut down, depriving Haney of oxygen, and that this was a contributing factor.
However, Congressman Jim Moran countered: "The accident board blamed him."
The sequence that led to Haney's crash began when his F-22 experienced a still-unexplained oxygen leak in the engine bay. As a precaution, a fire suppression system automatically closed the bleed air valves that feed compressed air to the OBOGS.
As a result, Haney was forced to activate the emergency oxygen supply. However, he struggled to reach the pull-up ring while unable to breathe. At the same time, he may have inadvertently put the aircraft into a steep dive.
The onboard data recorder showed that Haney attempted a violent pull-up manoeuvre less than 3sec before impact, but it was already too late and the F-22 crashed in a remote Alaska valley.
[Click here to read the full text of the lawsuit.]
The executive summary of AIB report can be read here.
"The board president found, by clear and convincing evidence, the cause of the mishap was the [Mishap Pilot's] failure to recognize and initiate a timely dive recovery due to channelized attention, breakdown of visual scan, and unrecognized spatial disorientation."
Sure sounds like blame to me.
Not when the pilot couldn’t breath!
The girl must be a democrat.. or a blonde..
They never blame the POS aircraft or system and always lay the blame on the pilot for failing to compensate for the POS aircraft or system. One would naturally conclude from this line of logic that the pilot is a vital link in the chain and process of single point failure resolution.
However, they want to take the pilot out of the airplane. Yes, this was a life support system failure but the same blame is often placed in flight control systems failures.
Most AIBs seem to be populated by tools or shoe salesmen. This one has mastered the art of talking out of both sides of their mouth at the same time... at least Schwartz has.
On the other hand, it is a shame that Capt. Haney died and left a widow and two children but a lawsuit for failure of a military aircraft? They are so highly tuned it is a wonder most get off the ground and stay in controlled flight. They are engineering marvels.
sounds like oxygen deprivation to me.
Actually it was thrown out on appeal.
Nine months after the district court issued its memorandum decision in this case, the Supreme Court decided Boyle v. United Technologies Corp., -— U.S. ——, 108 S.Ct. 2510, 101 L.Ed.2d 442 (1988). In Boyle, the Court recognized a broad formulation of the government contractor defense that shields manufacturers of products made for the government from tort liability for flaws in product design. The Court recognized that in certain areas of “uniquely federal interests,” state law must be preempted, and if necessary replaced, by federal common law. One such area of uniquely federal interest is the government’s procurement of military hardware. The Court grounded the contours of the defense in the “discretionary function” exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2680(a), that protects the United States from liability for its agents’ performance of duties involving discretionary decisions. 108 S.Ct. at 2514-2518. Without the defense, the government’s own tort immunity for its discretionary functions would be undermined. Contractors held liable for design features that were the subject of discretionary approval by the government would predictably pass on the costs of liability, ultimately imposing costs on the government that its immunity was intended to preclude. See id. at 2518.
15The defense derives from the principle that where a contractor acts under the authority and direction of the United States, it shares the sovereign immunity that is enjoyed by the government. See Yearsley v. W.A. Ross Construction Co., 309 U.S. 18, 60 S.Ct. 413, 84 L.Ed. 554 (1940). In the military context, this immunity serves the further important purpose of shielding sensitive military decisions from scrutiny by the judiciary, the branch of government least competent to review them. Application of ordinary tort law to military design and procurement decisions is not appropriate, for the government “is required by the exigencies of our defense effort to push technology towards its limits and thereby incur risks beyond those that would be acceptable for ordinary consumer goods.” Tozer v. LTV Corp., 792 F.2d 403, 406 (4th Cir.1986) (quoting McKay v. Rockwell International Corp., 704 F.2d 444, 449-50 (9th Cir.1983)).1
16Applying these principles, the Court based its formulation of the defense on the earlier decisions of the Fourth and Ninth Circuits in Tozer and McKay, supra:
Just a little curious why his nickname was “Bong”.
The hypoxic pilot failed to activate the emergency oxygen system.
If ever a system screamed for automajik controls, it was this one.
I'm tired of hearing about F-22 O2 problems.
Yank an O2 bottle out of old F-15s or F-4s and use the standard equipment and just deal with it.
This has been a non-issue since WWII, except for some of the minor icing issues.
We've solved this problem! Implement the solutions!
Our department pretty much made copies of every piece of paper and sent the originals to the lawyers. Boxes and boxes.
We even had a separate charge code for it.
Richard Ira Bong WWII Ace
Might be a point of pride - ‘cept the USAF killed him....