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Mon, Apr 11, 2005

Florida Man Blames FAA For Fatal Mishap

Billionaire Says Controllers Failed To Warn Son About Severe Weather

Alan Ginsburg blames the FAA for the death of his wife and son. Now, he wants the government to pay $30 million dollars in compensation. Ginsberg says controllers in South Florida failed to warn Jeffrey Ginsburg of severe weather in his path. Jeffrey and his mother, Harriett, were killed when the aircraft went down September 24th.

The NTSB last year listed the probable cause for the accident as the "pilot's continued path into known severe weather," even though he had a working weather radar system on board his Piper Saratoga (file photo of type, below). "Factors in this accident were heavy thunderstorm, and failure of the FAA controllers to provide the pilot [with] information on observed weather areas and... forecasted adverse weather conditions," according to the NTSB finding.

Ginsburg's suit against the FAA, filed last month, accuses controllers Joseph E. Nelson and Pedro Gonzalez, along with supervisor Mitten Swartzwelder, of "negligence and carelessness." The suit is quoted in the Orlando Sentinel.

FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen won't comment on the pending litigation. She told the Sentinel that both Nelson and Gonzalez are still on the job. Swartzwelder has since retired, she said.

The NTSB has listed controller actions as contributing factors in aviation accidents at least 36 times over the past five years. But are they giving pilots wrong information?

"It's not so much erroneous as it is incomplete," said Embry-Riddle Professor William Waldock, based at the school's campus in Prescott, AZ. "Looking at it from both sides, the FAA controllers didn't give him enough information," Waldock said. "But at the same time, if he had an active [weather] radar on the airplane, he should have seen the thunderstorm.... This is not defending the FAA. A lot of times these [severe weather] situations can change pretty fast."

FMI: www.faa.gov



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