The son of a couple who died when their private airplane crashed into the Caribbean Sea between Cuba and Jamaica has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the airplane’s manufacturer and several affiliated companies, alleging a defective cabin pressurization system caused the crash.
Kenneth Glazer, the youngest son of Larry and Jane Glazer, both of whom were 68, filed the lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court Aug. 30. He seeks damages for all beneficiaries of his parents’ estate, including their two other children.
On Sept. 5, 2014, the day of the crash, the Glazers departed from Rochester International Airport in the French-made Socata TBM 900, which Mr. Glazer purchased from Socata just seven months prior for $3.7 million. The manufacturer offered the airplane, the first one off the assembly line, because Mr. Glazer had extensive experience flying Socata TBM aircraft and was president of the TBM Owners and Pilots Association.
About an hour and a half after their 8:26 departure, Mr. Glazer radioed air traffic controllers to report “an indication that is not correct in the plane” and requested permission to descend to 18,000 feet.
Air traffic controllers first cleared the Glazers to descend to 25,000 feet, which he did. A few moments later they cleared him to descend to 20,000 feet, but by that time, Mr. Glazer’s speech had become slurred and he was not responding to questions.
For security reasons, the Air National Guard deployed two fighter jets from South Carolina to intercept the unresponsive airplane. The jets reported seeing Mr. Glazer slumped at the controls but still breathing and the cockpit windows frosting over.
The jets continued to shadow the Glazers’ plane as it flew off the coast of Florida and over the southern Bahamas, but disengaged when the airplane entered Cuban airspace. The plane continued to fly over Cuba and gradually descended as the engine ran out of fuel, crashing into the Caribbean Sea just short of Jamaica.
The Glazer lawsuit alleges that the airplane had a defective pressurization system and that the manufacturer and some of the other defendants named knew about the potential for malfunction but failed to warn the Glazers.
The complaint claims that “upon information and belief, at some time after takeoff, unbeknownst to Larry Glazer, the cabin of the subject aircraft began to insidiously depressurize.”
Socata has since introduced a new TBM model, the 930, which is equipped with an emergency descent mode that automatically takes the plane down to 15,000 feet in the event of depressurization, unless the pilot overrides.
Although the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) continues to investigate the crash and has not released its findings, many aviation experts say it’s likely that the Glazers’ airplane experienced a gradual loss of air pressure, causing the Glazers to become oxygen deprived and disoriented before eventually losing consciousness.
Sources: Rochester Democrat & Chronicle