Cory Lidle’s wife and Tyler Stanger’s family are suing Cirrus Design, alleging that a problem with the plane’s flight controls caused Lidle and Stanger’s plane to crash into a Manhattan hi-rise.
Miles O’Brien, a former CNN correspondent, calls the lawsuit frivolous, because the NTSB concluded the cause was pilot error. According to O’Brien, "in our litigious society, the facts don’t matter for much."
O’Brien is missing the fact that the NTSB’s conclusion is marred by a built-in conflict of interest.
That’s because the NTSB allowed Cirrus to participate in the investigation, but not the families or the families’ experts. Is it any surprise that the NTSB’s final conclusions favored the manufacturer?
There is a known problem with the Cirrus ailerons jamming at full deflection. After this accident, Cirrus published a number of service bulletins in an attempt to correct the problem and, ultimately, the FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive against the aircraft. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the aileron problem caused the Lidle crash. But the families are entitled to use the power of subpoena that comes with filing a lawsuit to investigate what happened. They don’t have to simply accept the NTSB’s conclusion — a conclusion the NTSB reached after closed-door meetings with Cirrus’ experts.