On October 5, 2019, Dr. Daniel P. Greenwald, a plastic surgeon from Tampa, was tragically killed in a plane crash shortly after taking off from Kokomo Municipal Airport in Kokomo, Indiana. His plane, a twin-engine Piper Aerostar 603P, crashed about four miles away from the airport. A settlement was recently reached with his estate, and the city of Kokomo, stemming from the accident.
When the National Transportation Safety Board issued their preliminary report a few weeks after the accident, although a cause of the crash was not listed, it emphasized the type of fuel that had been put in the aircraft while it was on the ramp at Kokomo airport.. The post-crash, preliminary report revealed that several of the planes spark plugs sustained damage “consistent with detonation” and that a clear liquid “consistent in color and order with that of Jet A Fuel” was found in the fuel lines and manifolds of both engines.
Many people who are not in aviation do not realize that there are two types of fuel available for aircraft in the U.S.: Jet Fuel, or “Jet A,” and “Av gas.” Avgas is sometimes called 100LL. Jetfuel is usually used in turboprop planes and jets, and Avgas, short for aviation gasoline, fuels power piston aircraft, like Cessna 172s and Piper Cherokees. The type of fuel used depends on the type of engine. Jet A is colorless or “straw” colored, and Avgas is dyed blue. However, Avgas mixed with Jet Fuel may also appear light blue.
Piston engines, like Dr. Greenwalds, that are accidentally fueled with Jet A will instantly go into destructive detonation. However, when Avgas and JetA are mixed, which is more likely to be a real life scenario, the detonation may not occur until 30 seconds or 3 minutes after takeoff. What happened to Dr. Greenwald was tragic and preventable. And, unfortunately, it was not the first time it occurred. In March 2008, a Cirrus SR22 crashed just after takeoff in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, killing 2 people. The investigation in that incident revealed that the aircraft had been refueled with Jet A instead of Avgas. There have been a number of crashes over the years involving light twin engine aircraft and skydive planes being misfueled.
A complaint filed by Dr. Greenwald’s widow alleged that the death was due to an airport employee putting the wrong fuel into Dr. Greenwald’s airplane. Specifically, the complaint alleged negligence by city airport employee and improper training given to Kokomo Municipal Airport employees.An employee of the airport alleged he had asked Dr. Greenwald two separate times if he wanted jet fuel for his Piper Aerostar because the plane “looked like a jet airplane.” The complaint denied that Dr. Greenwald ever told anyone fuel his aircraft with Jet A. It further stated that there were warning stickers and fueling instructions on the plane’s fuel tank apertures. This is common in light twin aircraft.
Dr. Greenwald was the former head of plastic surgery at Tampa General Hospital,and was named one of America’s top surgeons in 2009. The settlement reached with Dr. Greenwald’s estate for $700,000 was the max amount allowed under Indiana’s tort claim laws, according to the Kokomo Tribune. Our thoughts go out to his family.
The Tampa plane crash lawyers at the Coleman Law Group represent victims of plane crashes in Tampa, and their families. If you would like to schedule a free consultation, call us today at (877) 822-9292.