Likens Troubled Sport Aircraft To Ill-Fated DeHavilland
just knew it wouldn't be long before someone in the legal
community jumped on the action taken this week by the National
Transportation Safety Board, calling for the immediate grounding of
the Zenair Zodiac CH601 line of aircraft. The NTSB's urgent
recommendation was a "heroic decision that could save lives if the
Federal Aviation Administration acts promptly," aviation lawyer
Ladd Sanger said Friday.
"The Zodiac is the Corvair of the air," said Sanger, managing
partner of the Slack & Davis law firm in Dallas, TX as well as
a licensed commercial pilot (it's unclear which of those titles
also makes him qualified as an aircraft engineer or designer --
References to a certain problematic General Motors compact
automobile from the mid-1960s aside, Sanger believes he's on
solid footing in stating "[t]his is a poorly designed and tested
aircraft that poses a danger to anyone who flies in it. The NTSB's
recommendation to ground the fleet is nothing short of heroic."
As ANN reported this week, the NTSB issued
safety recommendations A-09-30 (urgent) through A-09-37 and A-09-38
through A-09-40 calling for the FAA to "prohibit further flight" of
all CH601-XL aircraft, until the FAA can determine whether the type
has adequate protection from aerodynamic flutter in its controls.
The recommendations included requiring possible design
modifications and other industry-wide improvements for the small
The NTSB recommendations noted there had been six documented
accidents where flutter is believed to have been a factor,
resulting in 10 fatalities.
Sanger believes the flutter issue isn't the only aerodynamic
design failure, stating the Zodiac "also has significant design
problems with a new canopy design that does not meet FAA standards
and, if it comes open in flight, will block the airflow over the
horizontal tail resulting in inability to control the aircraft.
"I am currently representing the family of Dennis Levy, who died
as a result of injuries he sustained in an August 14, 2008 Zodiac
crash near Farmersville, TX," the attorney added. "Just two weeks
ago I inspected the wreckage of this aircraft and was astounded at
the numerous poor design features of the aircraft, some of which do
not even meet the minimum FAA standards."
The Zodiac is sold as both a homebuilt kit, as well as a
factory-assembled Special Light Sport Aircraft (S-LSA) -- neither
of which are subject to Part 23 certification standards by the
Sanger goes on to note he has worked "hundreds of plane crash
cases... The Zodiac is perhaps one of the most unairworthy aircraft
since the de Havilland Comet which had to be grounded because
fatigue cracks from the windows caused in-flight structural
FMI: www.slackdavis.com, Read The NTSB
Recommendation Letters Here