HONOLULU, Hawaii – An engine manufacturer in Canada is to blame for a small plane’s ocean landing and the death of Hawaii’s former health director, her brother said in a lawsuit filed Monday.
Lewis Fuddy Jr. is suing Pratt & Whitney Canada Corp. and Makani Kai Air Charters over the Dec. 11 crash-landing. His 65-year-old sister Loretta Fuddy was a passenger on the flight and died of an irregular heartbeat, police said, that was triggered when the plane lost power and crash-landed off the Hawaiian island of Molokai in December.
The pilot and seven other passengers on the Makani Kai Air flight survived without major injuries.
Pratt & Whitney knew about a tendency of turbine blades to stretch when heated, which causes the engine to lose power, the lawsuit says. “This created an unreasonable risk that the turbine blades would come into contact with the engine shroud and cause the engine to seize,” the lawsuit says.
A spokeswoman for Pratt & Whitney said she would refer The Associated Press’ request for comment to the appropriate company officials. Makani Kai owner Richard Schuman said he wasn’t aware of the lawsuit.
Schuman has said previously that he has no idea why the engine failed. The plane had no previous problems, he said.
The National Transportation Safety Board has yet to release its full report on the crash, with probable cause and recommendations. A preliminary NTSB report largely confirmed previous accounts by passengers and the plane’s pilot that they heard a loud bang, then the plane lost power. Pilot Clyde Kawasaki glided the single-engine Cessna into the water.
“We purposely did not name the pilot, because there’s no basis that he did anything wrong,” said Richard Fried, the Honolulu attorney representing Fuddy’s estate.
Fried said there have been similar situations where the pilot hears a loud bang and the engine stops.
“She should be alive,” he said. “This is an engine that Pratt & Whitney knew had problems.”
Fuddy gained attention in 2011 for her role in releasing President Barack Obama’s Hawaii birth certificate to rebut claims that he was born outside the U.S.
Follow Jennifer Sinco Kelleher at http://www.twitter.com/JenHapa.