Italian Victims Of Hudson River Crash Addressed At The NTSB Forum <


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Italian Victims Of Hudson River Crash Addressed At The NTSB Forum

By Bill Goldston
  May 20, 2010 – Attorney Don Migliori will be present at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) forum that starts on Tuesday and will end today, to ensure that Italian victims of the August 2009 mid-air collision over the Hudson River are represented and that their concerns regarding the “lack of precision and professionalism by the parties responsible for the collision are expressed”.

Entitled "Professionalism in Aviation Safety," the forum will focus on several aviation crashes to address subjects relevant to developing and ensuring professionalism among pilots, air traffic controllers and others involved in aviation safety. The en-banc style forum, which is free and open to the public, is being held at the NTSB Board Room.

"The Italian families that we represent came to New York to commemorate a joyous personal occasion by taking a flight around the Statue of Liberty, an adventure intended to be celebratory that ended in one mother watching her husband, son, and three close family friends board a helicopter, never to see them alive again. The entire Italian nation mourns these senseless deaths, and my hope is that intelligent action by the NTSB can help prevent future tragedies," stated Motley Rice attorney Don Migliori.

On August 8, 2009, a Liberty Helicopter Tours-operated helicopter and a Piper PA-32R-300 plane operated by a licensed private pilot collided in mid-air over the Hudson River, killing five Italian tourists and the pilot aboard the helicopter and a Pennsylvania family of three on board the airplane.


Following lengthy investigations by both the NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), numerous inconsistencies have surfaced regarding the nature of the crash's cause, detailing not only massive compliance failures with FAA regulations and the air traffic control system but also revealing an NTSB toxicology report showing that the airplane pilot had alcohol in his system. Such aviation safety concerns regarding this and other aviations crashes will be among the topics discussed at the upcoming hearing.

Attorney Mary Schiavo, who is also representing the Italian families, said, "As the former Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Transportation and a former pilot, I saw first-hand the chain of events that can unfold when professionals are not professional. Controllers are supposed to be heroes of the sky, the people who keep us safe. When they leave their duty posts, attend to personal matters, or simply fail to monitor air traffic, they not only neglect the law but allow for the entire breakdown of our safety system."


Schiavo added, "Complacency among controllers can ultimately allow pilots to feel that that they can then become more casual and imprecise -- straying into airspace, failing to monitor traffic, missing mandatory reporting points, or flying under the influence of alcohol, as was the case in the crash over the Hudson. This accident is an outrage for the families who lost their loved ones and for every passenger who has ever entrusted his or her life to air traffic controllers and pilots."

On behalf of the families of the Italian victims who perished aboard the helicopter, the law firm Motley Rice and co-counsel Joseph Mattone, Sr., Hon. Joseph P. Lisa (Ret'd) and Italian counsel Armando D'Apote, filed an action in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on December 4, 2009, against multiple entities, including the sightseeing company Liberty Helicopters, Inc., Meridian Consulting I Corporation, Inc., the owner of the Liberty helicopter, the estate of the Piper aircraft pilot Steven Altman, LCA Partnership, the registered owner of the Piper aircraft, and the U.S. government, alleging negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, and wrongful death.

The attorneys for this case are currently arguing against consolidation with the litigation brought by both the Pennsylvania-based Altman estate and the Piper passengers who believe that the New Jersey cases should be moved to Pennsylvania and combined with their cases, which were brought against several entities not related to or involved in the Italian passengers' litigation.

Since the day of the incident, the Italian Embassy in Washington has been in constant contact with the NTSB, while the Consulate General in NYC has assisted the families of the victims in the days and weeks after the tragedy. The Italian Authorities are fully confident that NTSB will examine in the most rigorous way the circumstances of the helicopter crash as well as provide a thorough application of aviation safety laws in this particular case, which has stirred considerable emotion in the Italian public opinion.
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