$5M Settlement in Fatal Defective Aircraft Crash

Feb. 10, 2020

Attorney Ladd Sanger of Slack Davis Sanger LLP, Kevin Boyle of Panish, Shea & Boyle and Joe Bosco of LaRose & Boscohave obtained a $5 million settlement on behalf of the family of James Kos and Dane Sheahen who were killed in a March 2016 plane crash, as a result of a defective experimental aircraft engine developed by Superior Air Parts, Inc. with a crankshaft forged by Ruhrtaler Gesenkschmiede F.W. Wengeler GmbH & Co. KG.

Dane Sheahen was piloting the RV-8 aircraft he had built from a kit containing a Superior Air Parts XP-400 experimental aircraft engine that had recently been developed to serve the growing experimental aircraft market. During the March 12, 2016 flight, the engine’s crankshaft broke and caused the plane to lose power and crash, killing both occupants.

“This engine and crankshaft had only been in operation 20 hours before the crankshaft suffered a fatigue failure which resulted in the crash,” said attorneyLadd Sanger. “There were no obvious metallurgical deficiencies in the crankshaft, therefore the failure was probably the result of detonation issues and unusual stresses caused by the Superior design.”

According to Sanger, “Superior Air Parts failed to adequately test the engine design before releasing it to the market. Once in the field, Superior knew these engines were suffering premature failures yet the company was slow to react until this tragic crash occurred.”

Shortly after the crash, Superior Air Parts announced a mandatory buyback of all XP-400 and XP-382 engines the company had sold.

Superior Air Parts, Inc. and Ruhrtaler Gesenkschmiede F.W. Wengeler GmbH & Co. KG. agreed to a settlement and the surviving family members of James Kos and Dane Sheahen will receive net compensation totaling $3,061 million.