Fed Ordered To Pay In ATC's Negligence Which Result In The Death Of Pilot


  Bookmark and Share

Fed Ordered To Pay In ATC's Negligence Which Result In The Death Of Pilot

By Mike Mitchell

December 13, 2011 - Miami, Florida District Court Judge Edwin G. Torres has ordered the Unites States to pay the family of Michael Zinn, 52, $4.4 million as a result of a Miami's Air Route Traffic Control Center air traffic controller's negligence which was partially the cause of Zinn's death when his airplane crashed back in October 2005.  

Judge Torres? ruling supports the NTSB's determination that one of the contributing factors was the FAA center failed to provide information on depicted severe weather to the pilot and the controller's delay in providing requested navigational assistance until it was too late.  

Judge Torres? judge wrote the controller ?breached his duty of care in providing complete and accurate weather briefings when it was possible to do so and highly pertinent to Zinn's route of flight." "Compounding that breach of the duty of care, he then failed to provide any navigational assistance when the pilot requested."

On October 19, 2005, Zinn departed Boca Raton, Florida for Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to play golf in a Cessna P337H, N5HU, which was registered to River Aviation. While on an IFR flight, Zinn, acting as pilot, was advised by the controller of an area of moderate to heavy precipitation at his twelve o-clock position five miles ahead. The Zinn stated he would deviate around the weather on a 300 degree heading.  

Examination of recorded display data showed that when Zinn advised that he would be turning to a 300 degree heading to avoid weather, the controller's display was showing moderate (Level 2) and heavy (Level 3 to 4) and intense to extreme (Level 5 to 6) weather in that direction. The controller did not advise the Zinn of the depicted weather as required by FAA Order 7110.65, paragraph 2-6-4, "Weather and Chaff Services."  

Review of weather radar images confirmed that shortly thereafter, the airplane penetrated an intense Level 5 thunderstorm. About 1 minute after the heading change, Zinn asked the controller if his heading was clear of weather, to which the controller responded that he could not suggest any headings. About 2 minutes later, the pilot asked the controller if there was weather ahead of him, and the controller did not respond.  

About 30 seconds later, Zinn again asked about weather in front of him and reported he was in "difficult shape." The controller responded that he showed the airplane encountering "extreme precipitation" and asked Zinn his intentions. Zinn requested a heading and the controller responded with a suggestion that Zinn turn 20 degrees right. Zinn acknowledged and shortly thereafter, the airplane entered a rapid descent. Several witnesses stated that they saw the airplane emerge from the clouds at an altitude of about 300 feet, on its side, and descending.  


They observed the airplane maneuvering erratically before it descended and impacted a house at a steep angle. A fire erupted, which destroyed the house and the airplane. According to witnesses "bad weather" was present in the area at the time of the accident, with heavy rain and lightning being observed. A Convective SIGMET was current for an area of thunderstorms with tops to 40,000 feet, moving little. Zinn could be heard on the radio calling out for help before the crash. "Help!" and "I'm going to die!" over a period of two minutes. At 6:59 PM an American Airlines pilot radioed, "He's not yelling help any more by the way." 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable causes of the accident was the pilot's continued flight into an area of known convective weather, resulting in a loss of aircraft control. Contributing factors were the failure of the FAA center controller to provide information on depicted severe weather to the pilot and the controller's delay in providing requested navigational assistance until it was too late to provide the pilot with effective assistance in avoiding severe weather.

Other News Stories
(For the latest news please checkout our home page)


blog comments powered by Disqus  
Home Aviation News Aviation Stories Of Interest FAA Exam Upcoming Events Links To Other Sites General Aviation Helicopters Medical Factors Facing Pilots
Maintenance and Aircraft Mechanics Hot Air Balloon Aviation Training Handbooks Read Online Aviation History Legal Issues In Aviation Sea Planes Editorials
 ?AvStop Online Magazine                                                                 Contact Us                                                  Return To News                                          Bookmark and Share


AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine

Grab this Headline Animator