Insurance company tries to recoup $1 million from Macon in jet crash

mstucka@macon.comNovember 29, 2013 

PlaneCrash

A corporate jet hydroplaned into a wooded area across Ocmulgee East Industrial Boulevard while trying to land at the Macon Downtown Airport in September 2012. An insurance company contends that the wreck is the city of Macon’s fault and cost it $1 million.

JASON VORHEES — jvorhees@macon.com Buy Photo

  • Read the lawsuit over a Macon Downtown Airport crash.

An insurance company contends that a bad runway built by the city of Macon caused a corporate jet to crash after it skidded at Macon Downtown Airport, then rolled across Ocmulgee East Industrial Boulevard.

Old Republican Insurance Co. sued the city this week, hoping to recoup the $1 million it paid to the owners of the 1986 Beech 400 jet. The aircraft reportedly hydroplaned when it was landing on Sept. 18, 2012.

The lawsuit claims the city rebuilt the runway improperly, letting rainwater build up on the runway because the sides didn’t slope away enough.

The insurance company maintains that Macon narrowed Runway 10-28 in 2008, but it didn’t tell pilots about that work. Though the runway was actually narrowed to 100 feet, it was advertised as 150 feet.

The lawsuit also said the runway is actually 4,506 feet long, but was listed as 4,696 feet, nearly 200 feet longer.

The Federal Aviation Administration lists the runway as 4,694 feet long and 150 feet wide in its Airport/Facility Directory and in other locations.

The city has not been served with a copy of the lawsuit. Interim City Attorney Judd T. Drake said the city would respond in due course to protect the city’s interests.

The insurance company said the city failed to warn pilots about how dangerous the runway got when it rained, and it also didn’t have a big enough runway safety area, which is designed for airplanes that overshoot the runway.

All of those problems “proximately caused the hydroplaning and crash” of the airplane, the insurance company claimed in the suit.

The company is seeking all damages, including legal fees, from a jury. Attorneys Edward C. Bresee Jr. and Arthur J. Park of Atlanta are pursuing the case.

The National Transportation Safety Board reported last year that it talked to the pilots, who said they saw water in the runway. They touched down within 1,000 feet of the near end and applied maximum reverse thrust, brakes and spoilers, but felt a pulsation in the braking system.

“The airplane departed the end of the runway, traveled into the grass, went down an embankment, across the road, and into the trees. They further added that the airplane ‘hit hard’ at the bottom of the embankment,” the agency reported.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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