Thursday, March 03, 2011

Airline ordered to pay K811,000 for pilot's death

Pilot’s family wins 11-year court battle




AN AVIATION company was yesterday ordered by the National Court to pay more than K800, 000 to the family of a pilot who died in a plane crash in 1995, The National reports.

The long-fought claim was based on negligence by Trans Niugini Airways Ltd for allowing pilot John Kale to fly an airplane which was not airworthy.

The incident happened on July 25, 1995, when the Britten-Norman Islander (BN2 A-21), carrying 13 bags of coffee weighing more than 700kg, crashed in fine weather during take-off from Karimui airstrip in Chimbu.

Yesterday’s was the second of two decisions by the court. In May 2006, the court ruled against Trans Niugini Airways, which had breached aviation safety practices and standards when it “recklessly permitted an aircraft that was plagued with chronic engineering faults to be flown”.

In yesterday’s decision, Justice Les Gavara Nanu outlined assessment of the cost totalling K811, 742.66.

At the time of the tragedy, the pilot’s wife and plaintiff in the case, Esther Kuri, was 22 years old while their only son was two years old.

Kale, who was 27, then, was a licensed and qualified commercial pilot.

The payment of the claim covered 11 years, 11 months and one week, in which loss of dependency, increase risk of orphanhood, estate claim, special damages, legal costs and interest was looked at.

The decision itemised how much would go to the wife, the son and the pilot’s parents.

The cost of trial on the issue of liability, decided on in 2006, will also be paid by the defendant.

The earlier court decision said that in permitting the deceased to fly such an aircraft, the defendant (company) had acted without due regard for the safety of the deceased and was in breach of its duty of care.

During that time, the court also found that the Civil Aviation report, which attributed the cause of the crash to pilot error, was grossly flawed.



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