Air Force Beefs Up Airshow Fire Protection


The Air Force will position fire trucks on the flight line of airshows hosted by its bases as part of the settlement of a lawsuit over the burning death of a pilot in 2014. Eddy Andreini, 77, crashed his modified Stearman show plane inverted while performing a ribbon cut at the Travis Air Force Base show in 2014. He survived the crash but died in the post-crash fire. It took more than four minutes for firefighters to arrive and by then the aircraft had been mostly consumed by the fuel-fed fire. Andreini’s family sued the Air Force, which claimed it had met standard response times in the accident. It also claimed that it was immune from lawsuits because it’s a federal government entity and said the waiver signed by Andreini absolved them of responsibility.

The family’s lawyer, Mike Danko, said in a statement that he was able to show that this case fit an exemption that does allow citizens to sue federal departments. The case was allowed to proceed to a trial later this year and in April, the Air Force settled. Danko said it agreed to pay the family $1.4 million, an unusually large amount for the death of a 77-year-old, and it’s changing its fire-protection policy for airshows. “From now on, it will position fire trucks so that they have immediate access to the show line, Danko said. “It will also have firefighters dressed and ready to go whenever a performer is in the air, eliminating the time needed after a crash for fire firefighters to get dressed and get to their trucks.”