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What you need to know for 08/17/2017

Suit filed in deadly 2012 Clifton Park plane crash

Suit filed in deadly 2012 Clifton Park plane crash

The estate of a businessman killed in an August 2012 plane crash is suing his employer and others.
Suit filed in deadly 2012 Clifton Park plane crash
A state police investigator takes measurements near the fuselage of a single-engine plane that crashed in the front yard of a home on Van Vranken Road in Clifton Park that killed two area business executives on Aug. 15, 2012.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

The estate of a businessman killed in an August 2012 plane crash is suing his employer and others.

The estate of Walter F. Uccellini, chairman of the Troy-based United Group at the time of his death, is seeking a total of $10 million in damages from a long list of defendants. The list includes The United Group.

The suit was filed in state Supreme Court in Albany County on Aug. 14, a day short of the two-year anniversary of the crash.

The summons filed claims the defendants were negligent in “causing the personal injuries and wrongful death” of Uccellini, as well as “preimpact pain and suffering and/or preimpact terror.”

The Aug. 15, 2012 crash into a Clifton Park home’s front yard claimed the lives of both Uccellini, 67, of Albany, and the pilot, 68-year-old James Quinn of Westerlo. Quinn was vice chairman of The United Group.

Among the claims are “negligent operation of the aircraft” by Quinn and “negligent servicing and maintenance” by the owner of the plane and others.

Quinn’s estate is not named as a defendant. The United Group and other variations of the name are included as Quinn was employed by them and acting as their agent, according to the suit.

Uccellini’s estate is represented by Albany attorney John Calareso, Jr. He could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

Representatives of The United Group also could not be reached. A representative of one of the companies named under the servicing and maintenance allegations said the company was not yet aware of the suit and couldn’t comment.

The two men were killed after the 1981 single-engine Beechcraft A36TC they were in crashed after takeoff from Albany International Airport. The plane struck trees and a front lawn off Van Vranken Road in Clifton Park. The two men were en route to a business meeting in Plattsburgh.

Uccellini died at the scene. Quinn died later at a hospital.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigated the crash and cited the cause as “total loss of engine power.”

What caused the loss of power could not be determined because of damage to the plane from the crash, according to the report.

The NTSB report cited a corroded engine part that could have resulted in partial loss of power. It also cited a possible pre-crash position of a crucial switch in the cockpit.

That switch, an auxiliary fuel pump switch, could cause the engine to quit if put in the wrong position, the report said.

But the actual position of that switch couldn’t be determined due to the extent of impact damage around the switch.

The first indication of engine power loss came from the pilot just after takeoff, according to previous reports. The pilot, Quinn, advised air traffic control that “eight delta romeo just lost our engine.” Radar contact was lost 30 seconds later.

The corroded engine part, called a magneto, “could result in a partial loss of engine power and/or perceived rough engine operation,” the report reads.

A magneto provides power to the engine’s spark plugs, according to online sources. Airplane engines usually have two, as did the Beechcraft. The engines can run on one, but the second one provides a backup.

According to a previous report, the Beechcraft’s right magneto had corrosion on the points. Once that corrosion was cleaned, the magneto operated normally.

The plane was owned by a friend of Quinn’s, who allowed Quinn to use it whenever he needed. The factory-rebuilt engine was installed in 1996. The last annual inspection prior to the accident was completed in October 2011, 10 months before the crash.

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