Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

$25 Million Claim Filed in Crash; Craig Field's Instrument Landing System and FAA's Failure to Warn Pilot Blamed in Legal Action

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

$25 Million Claim Filed in Crash; Craig Field's Instrument Landing System and FAA's Failure to Warn Pilot Blamed in Legal Action

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL PINKHAM, The Times-Union

Federal Aviation Administration workers in Jacksonville were using faulty equipment and failed to warn a pilot of his position before he crashed on Thanksgiving near Craig Municipal Airport, his surviving relatives charged in a $25.3 million claim filed Friday with the agency.

Texas physician George C. Swanson, 56, died when his Swearingen Merlin II airplane crashed into woods in thick fog near Atlantic and Kernan boulevards, 1.8 miles from the airport. Four of his children on the plane were injured.

A preliminary crash report by the National Transportation Safety Board found air traffic controllers warned Swanson of low visibility at Craig and gave him alternate airports to use. Swanson, a commercial-rated pilot, decided to land at Craig, the report says.

But the family's claim, required before they can sue a government agency, says the airport's instrument landing system was faulty and the FAA failed to warn Swanson he was flying too low on his final approach.

"The crash was . . . caused by the negligence of the FAA and its service personnel and controllers in failing to service, monitor, maintain and ensure the reliability of the signal," the claim alleges.

FAA spokesman Christopher White said the agency doesn't comment on pending litigation.

Swanson's brother Richard, a doctor in Crystal River, said Swanson flew routinely, including to Craig field to visit his mother.

"We simply don't understand how this could happen," Richard Swanson said. "He had his family with him. It doesn't make any sense for him to have put them at risk. If he was attempting to land that plane, it means he had every confidence that nothing was amiss."

Swanson and his children were traveling to Florida on Thanksgiving to pick up his mother and another brother, a Jacksonville police officer, before flying to the Keys. …

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