Family of Hanscom crash victim files wrongful death lawsuit

BEDFORD, MA - 6/02/2014:The National Transportation Safety Board has taken over the investigation into a plane crash that killed 7 people, Saturday at Hanscom Field. Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz is among the seven people killed in a fiery plane crash in Massachusetts. (David L Ryan/Globe Staff Photo) SECTION: METRO TOPIC 02hanscom(1)
David L Ryan/Globe Staff
Scene of the Hanscom Field after the crash.

The family of Lewis A. Katz, a philanthropist and co-owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer who was killed in a plane crash at Hanscom Field in Bedford in 2014, is suing the aircraft manufacturer and other parties in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston.

The wrongful death suit was filed Wednesday by Katz’s two children, who are also co-executors of his estate. Katz, 72, was among seven people killed when a Gulfstream G IV barreled off a runway at Hanscom on May 31, 2014.

Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. is one of eight defendants named in the complaint, which is seeking unspecified damages.


The eight defendants “caused the (crash) by their negligence and . . . by manufacturing and/or designing a defective product,” the complaint states.

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A spokesman for Gulfstream declined to comment on the lawsuit.

MassPort, the operator of Hanscom Field, is named as a defendant.

Matthew Brelis, a MassPort spokesman, said the crash was “a horrible tragedy for the seven families involved.”

He said the National Transportation Safety Board found the probable causes of the crash were “several errors by the flight crew and problems with the design of the aircraft, specifically the gust lock.”


In a report on the crashreleased last September, the NTSB criticized Gulfstream, along with the Federal Aviation Administration, for allowing the plane and others to operate without measures to prevent pilots from attempting to take off without disengaging the gust lock.

The NTSB also found the pilots neglected to check flight controls and missed an indicator that would have alerted them that the gust lock was on.

Also named in the suit are the estates of the two pilots, James McDowell, 51, of Georgetown, Del., and copilot Bauke “Mike” Devries, 45, of Marlton, N.J.

The complaint said McDowell and DeVries made several errors before the crash, including failing to disengage the gust lock before takeoff. The lock holds controls in place when a plane is parked, but can be dangerous if it is in place while an aircraft is moving at high speeds.

A pin manufactured by Rockwell Collins Inc. that secures the gust lock handle in the full on or off position was found to be substandard, the complaint said.


The other defendants are SK Travel, LLC, the owner of the aircraft; Arizin Ventures, LLC, which leased the plane; and Spiniello Companies, the pilots’ employer.

Andy Rosen of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.