Avjet Settles For $11.7 Million

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Avjet has reached an $11.7 million settlement with the families of three people killed in the crash of a Gulfstream III flying into Aspen's Pitkin County Airport on March 29, 2001. All 15 passengers and three crew members were killed when the jet crashed into sloping terrain about 2400 feet short of Runway 15 during a night instrument approach in snow showers. On Monday, just over a year after NTSB recommendations were issued, the families of Marissa Witham and brothers Joseph and Jose Aguilar agreed to the settlement. The deal was reached after a Los Angeles jury, on July 2, found Avjet Corporation and pilot Robert Frisbie negligent and held responsible for the wrongful deaths of Witham and the Aguilars. The suit claimed the defendants "knowingly flew into the face of danger when they attempted to land under unsafe, stormy weather conditions at Aspen Airport. Not only did they violate the airport's night landing curfew, but they disregarded nearly twenty federal, state and local regulations." A statement by the plaintiffs' attorney added, "If their deaths are to have any meaning, it is our hope that today's resolution will send a clear message to pilots and private air charter companies everywhere to obey the air safety rules and regulations intended for the publics protection."