Schaden, Katzman, Lampert & McClune aviation lawyers represented several families in the fatal Colorado plane crash of United 585 in both state and federal court. While investigating the air plane crash of United Airlines flight 585, the Firm’s founding partner, Richard Schaden, concluded that the Boeing 737 crashed as a result of an anomaly in the aircraft’s rudder system which allowed the aircraft rudder to reverse to maximum travel, called a ‘hard-over,’ causing a loss of aerodynamic control. This was an action not commanded by the pilot.
To prove Mr. Schaden’s theory, and to advance our clients’ cause, the Firm purchased an entire tail assembly, including the rudder, from a Boeing 737 aircraft along with two power control units that drive the rudder system. The 737’s tail assembly was erected in the firm’s hanger and test facility adjacent to our office in Broomfield, Colorado, and was fully operational and subjected to extensive testing by the time another Boeing 737 crashed in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. (See US Air Flight 427 near Pittsburg, Pennsylvania below.)
Appointed to the state and federal Plaintiffs Steering Committees in the plane crash lawsuits arising from both USAir flight 427 and United Airlines flight 585, Schaden, Katzman, Lampert & McClune continued to advance Mr. Schaden’s theory of a non-pilot commanded full rudder hard-over as the cause of two major air carrier disasters involving Boeing 737 airplanes. The Boeing Aircraft Company made every attempt to disprove his analysis, claiming that wind shear or nonsensical pilot inputs caused the airplanes to crash. In response, Boeing was confronted with its own data, its failed and flawed aeronautical analysis, and too, its lack of candor with the public and the National Transportation Safety Administration.
All of the air plane crash cases arising from United Airlines flight 585 pending in Colorado and those arising from USAir flight 427 pending in federal court in Pittsburgh were resolved. The tail assembly and rudder’s power control units were crated, painted in USAir livery colors, and shipped to Chicago, Illinois for trial in state court. On the eve of the Chicago trial, all of the remaining cases were concluded. Boeing chose not to contest in open court that its 737’s rudder was prone to an uncommanded rudder hard-over while in flight.
Interestingly, the Federal Aviation Administration has mandated several design changes to the rudder’s power control unit on the Boeing 737 aircraft.