Lawsuit filed over fatal crash of WWII-era airplane

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A lawsuit has been filed against the owners and operators of a World War II-era airplane that crashed at a Connecticut airport last October, killing seven people.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in state Superior Court by survivors of the crash and the families of passengers who were killed, seeks unspecified monetary damages from the Collings Foundation, which ran charter flights on its historic B-17G bomber.

The action also names the foundation's executive director, Robert Collings Jr.

Hunter Chaney, a spokesman for the foundation, said it is prohibited from commenting on the crash or the lawsuit because of the ongoing investigation into the accident by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The aircraft with 13 people aboard crashed on Oct. 3 after encountering mechanical trouble on takeoff from Bradley International Airport. Five passengers who had each paid $450 to fly aboard the aircraft, as well as the pilot and co-pilot, were killed while the others were left with serious burns.

The four-engine, propeller-driven Flying Fortress struggled to get into the air and slammed into a maintenance building at the airport near Hartford as the pilots circled back for a landing, officials and witnesses said at the time of the crash.

Among other things, the lawsuit alleges that an inspection of the engines that failed would have shown that some parts were worn beyond repair.

The 200-page lawsuit, which gives a detailed description of the brief flight and the plight of each person on the aircraft, also alleges that the passengers were not given proper safety instructions and two of them were seated on the floor of the aircraft instead of in seats.

“Neither the Pilot in Command, nor any of the other crew members, informed the passengers of the flight's peril, advised them what to do or instructed them to brace for a crash,” according to the lawsuit. “The passengers were left to presume what was happening.”

The Federal Aviation Administration in March r evoked the foundation’s permission to carry passengers aboard its World War II-era planes.