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December 15, 2013

Air ambulance owner sues airport over deer strike death

The jet was carrying a hospital patient when it struck and killed the deer, which wandered onto the runway during takeoff

New Haven Register

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The Canadian owner of an air ambulance that was seriously damaged when it struck a deer on the main runway of Tweed New Haven Regional Airport on Sept. 20, 2012, is suing the airport and its operator in federal court, seeking $5 million in damages.

The figure covers the actual damages to the airplane plus the value of lost bookings during the several months the plane was inoperable, said New Haven attorney Jonathan J. Einhorn, who represents Toronto-based Fox Flight Inc.

The Lear Jet was carrying a hospital patient when it struck and killed the deer, which wandered onto the runway during takeoff. Several other deer also were visible, officials have said, and the lawsuit says that "numerous wild deer were present on airport runways and on areas of the airport designated for landings and takeoffs" at that time.

The four-page lawsuit filed last week names the Tweed New Haven Airport Authority and McLean, Va.-based AFCO AvPorts Management LLC, which operates the airport under contract with Tweed.

"It's embarrassing that our own airport didn't seek to fence in the runways so that it was safe for use," Einhorn said. "It's really inexcusable."

Tweed's lawyer, Hugh Manke of Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, said he hadn't yet seen the complaint but "we will vigorously defend it and believe that we have done what is reasonably required of us to secure the airport."

The Tweed Authority has spent much of the past year working through the process to install a fence that will better secure the airport from wildlife. At this point, "permits are in place for the fence and construction should begin any day now," said Manke.

Einhorn said that is "a step in the right direction, but it doesn't help Fox Flight."

The suit alleges the airport and AvPorts "were negligent in not providing a safe and secure landing field for Plaintiff's airplane" and failing to warn Fox Flight of the dangers from trespassing wildlife.

It also alleges that AvPorts breached its obligation under its management agreement with Tweed by failing to properly "maintain the Airport for the benefit of its users" and keep the runways "secure from trespassing wildlife."

Fox Flight "suffered substantial damage and loss as a result of the Defendant AvPorts' conduct," it says.

According to the lawsuit, "During takeoff, Plaintiff's captain noticed deer on the runway to the right side of the aircraft traveling eastbound, and moved the aircraft to the left and applied the brakes in an attempt to avoid hitting the animals."

Despite that, "one deer was struck (by) the right wing of the Lear Jet, denting the fuselage and damaging the main landing gear and landing light," it says.

AvPorts representatives did not return a call for comment.

Copyright 2013 New Haven Register

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

All Rights Reserved

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Jacob Wadsworth Jacob Wadsworth Sunday, December 29, 2013 5:46:47 AM At least there were no casualties. The air ambulance owner was right to sue the airport because of its negligence in providing safety in the airport premises. Accidents can happen even with the slightest bump. -

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