Widow Sues Pilatus Over Butte Crash

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The widow of a pilot killed along with 13 others, including seven children, in the crash of a Pilatus PC-12 in Butte, Mont., three years ago is suing the planemaker and others involved in the maintenance of the aircraft, even though the NTSB laid all the blame for the crash on the pilot. As we reported last year, the board found that pilot Bud Summerfield didn't add a fuel deicer to the aircraft tanks, as specified in the flight manual, after filling it up for a trip from Oroville, Calif., to Bozeman, Mont. It also blamed Summerfield for failing to divert sooner when he noticed a fuel imbalance and cited the resulting left-wing-heavy state of the plane as a factor when he tried to land in Butte. But in her suit, Janet Summerfield says the manufacturer and its maintainers were to blame.

The suit claims the design of he fuel system is faulty and that Martin Aviation failed to maintain the aircraft properly. Summerfield is seeking unspecified financial damages. The 13 passengers aboard the aircraft were on their way to a ski trip. The aircraft has seating for a maximum of nine passengers and two crew. The board concluded it was also overweight.