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Oxford, ME Company Sued By Ohio Residents Over Emergency Landing

Claims Oxford Aviation's Work Was 'Negligent And Reckless'

A married couple living in Ohio has sued Oxford Aviation in Oxford, ME, following an emergency landing in a Cessna 441 flown by 63-year-old Steven Skilken.

Skilken and his wife Karen filed separate lawsuits against Oxford Aviation over work performed on Skilken's Cessna 441. The couple and five other family members were flying from Columbus, OH to Colorado Springs, CO, when part of the airplane's tail separated on final approach. Skilken managed to land the airplane with only his wife suffering minor injuries, according to court documents.

Steven Skilken said in an interview with the Oxford Hills Sun Journal that he had hired Oxford Aviation, which paints, maintains, and refurbishes aircraft at Oxford County Regional Airport, to repaint the 441 before a planned trip to Las Vegas for his wife's 50th birthday. When he arrived at the airport to pick up his plane on the agreed-to date of May 30, it was not completed and "in pieces all over the place," he said. Oxford Aviation owner James Horowitz took $13,000 off the bill for the painting because of the delays and a poor paint job. The plane was reassembled, a test flight was conducted, and Skilken flew it home from Maine to Ohio.

The next day, the family departed for Colorado Springs. It was on approach to that airport when the incident occurred.

The lawsuit charges that Oxford Aviation was "negligent and reckless" in reassembling the airplane, and failed to properly re-attach the part of the tail section which came off during the approach. An air traffic controller who saw the incident said the airplane "looked like a moth" as it tumbled through the sky. An FAA representative said it was "shocking" that Skilken was able to land the plane at all.

The suit is asking for $200,000 from the company to cover damages to the airplane, as well as a full refund for the paint job and compensation for loss of revenue while the Cessna 441 is out of service. Steven Skilken's company Joseph Skilken and Co., the registered owner of the airplane, is suing for breach of contract, breach of warranty, negligence, negligent misrepresentation and fraudulent representation.

In her suit, Karen Skilken charges the company with "negligence and negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress." She says she is uncomfortable flying, and their 9-year-old daughter, who was also aboard the airplane, is now afraid to fly.

The FAA had suspended Oxford Aviation's repair certificate in July, but restored it on August 19 following a management review. The FAA said it is likely that the agency was investigating the incident, but did not confirm that there was an open case.

(Cessna 441 pictured in file photo. Not incident airplane)

FMI: www.faa.gov

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