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Second lawsuit filed in fatal 2012 crash

Second lawsuit filed in fatal 2012 crash

A second lawsuit has now been filed related to the August 2012 plane crash that killed two businessm
Second lawsuit filed in fatal 2012 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

A second lawsuit has now been filed related to the August 2012 plane crash that killed two businessman, this suit filed by the estate of the pilot.

The estate of James F. Quinn filed the suit Aug. 25 in state Supreme Court in Albany County seeking unspecified damages against the company it contends did maintenance on the plane, Albany-based Hildt Aviation.

Quinn’s estate contends the plane crash was caused by “negligence, carelessness, recklessness and gross negligence” by Hildt Aviation in its hiring, instruction and maintenance practices.

The suit also contends conscious pain and suffering.

The suit by Quinn’s estate follows one filed by the estate of Walter F. Uccellini, chairman of the Troy-based United Group at the time of his death. Uccellini’s estate is seeking $10 million in damages from a long list of defendants, including The United Group and Hildt Aviation.

The suit by Quinn’s estate only names Hildt and variations of its name. The United Group is not named.

Hildt Aviation issued a statement Friday saying it fully cooperated with the National Transportation Safety Board investigation. It also described itself as “an experienced aircraft repair and maintenance company.”

The statement referred specific comments on the suits to its attorney, Eugene Massamillo of New York City. Massamillo could not be reached Friday.

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 Quinn of Westerlo. Quinn was vice chairman of The United Group.

Among the claims in the Uccellini suit 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 in the Uccellini suit. The United Group and other variations of the name are included because Quinn was employed by them and acting as their agent, according to the Uccellini suit.

Quinn’s estate is represented by attorney Amanda Twinam. She could not be reached.

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 before crashing on 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 caused 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 it.

The first indication of engine power loss came from the pilot just after takeoff, according to previous reports. 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 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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