Pays Father Of Third Victim $905,000
The father of one of three men who died in a Missouri plane crash more
than three years ago has settled his lawsuit with vacuum-pump maker
Parker-Hannifin. The amount of the settlement was $905,000.
Chris Sifford (right) was flying with Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan on
board the Cessna 335 in rough IFR weather on October 16, 2000, when it
went down near Hillsboro. Sifford's father, Dale, along with the
Carnahans' survivors, sued Parker-Hannifin, accusing the company
of making vacuum pumps it knew were faulty even after they were cited in
more than 20 crashes.
The NTSB accident report indicated there may indeed have been problems
with the primary attitude display, but said that secondary instruments
were probably functioning at the time of the crash.
gyros have been used in aircraft for many years,
there are a number of problems that make mechanical
gyros less than ideal, and have driven the need
for more accurate and reliable instruments. The
first and foremost problem is long-term reliability.
Because mechanical gyros are constructed with
many moving parts with close tolerances, they
break easily. As the ball bearings that support
the high-speed wheel and the gimbals begin to
wear, they contribute to precession errors. Compounding
the issue with vacuum gyros, is that dirt and
dust in the vacuum line that destroys the bearings.
Another common problem is that long periods of
inactivity can also cause the mechanical gyro
to stop functioning altogether or reduce accuracy
and increase drift rates. The recommended operating
life of most mechanical gyros is only several
class of problems is the limited accuracy and
resolution of most mechanical gyros. The design
of the majority of mechanical gyros used in
general aviation today was done in the 1950s
or before, and the manufacturing techniques
have not kept pace with technology. The result
is limited accuracy and resolution, especially
in dynamic maneuvers. Of course, all pilots
know that if you do an aerobatic or other very
aggressive maneuver the majority of mechanical
gyros generally lose their mind and in some
A second attitude indicator, however, was
operating properly -- though located on the copilot's side of the panel.
According to the report, it may have been difficult for pilot Randy
Carnahan to read under the circumstances. The NTSB
ruled the cause of the accident was Randy Carnahan's spatial
disorientation and NOT any failure of a Parker-Hannifin product.
But a Jackson County (MO) jury disregarded that information and awarded
Carnahan's survivors $4 million. Parker-Hannifin, however, said it was
vindicated by the award, since the family had originally sought $100
million. The jury decided not to award punitive damages.
Dale Sifford's lawsuit was almost a mirror of the Carnahan suit, saying
the dual vacuum system in the Cessna 335 failed, causing the crash. His
lawyer, Kirk Presley, said the Carnahan family's suit prompted him to
file on Sifford's behalf.
The judge hearing the case has decided not to set aside the Carnahan
Next week, he'll hear the family's request for a retrial on the issue of