Peter Waxtan of Fort Lauderdale, Florida is facing a posthumous legal suit pertaining to the plane accident that killed him and approximately 160 others, according to news reports. Waxtan, 55, was apparently piloting the plane. He and Boeing (the airplane manufacturer) are named in the lawsuit, which was filed by David Chukwunonso Allison of Lagos, Nigeria. Allison lost his wife in the accident, which is still under investigation. It remains to be seen whether more charges against Waxtan or Boeing will be filed by families of the deceased. It is similarly unclear whether Waxtan’s loved ones plan on pursuing legal action against Boeing or Dana Air, the airline for which Waxtan worked.
Sources indicate that the plane crash, which occurred on Sunday in Lagos, may have been caused by a defective engine. The airplane, a Boeing McDonnell Douglas MD-83, was owned and operated by Dana Air, a private domestic airline in Nigeria. A representative from the company reportedly told the public that “there was a mayday call for engine failure at 1442 hours” from Dana Air Flight 992 just before the plane crashed into an apartment building, killing all 153 persons onboard and from 6-10 people on the ground. Most of the victims were Nigerian, but a few were American, French, and other nationalities.
Although the representative asserted that Dana Air tests all of its’ aircraft to prevent such occurrences, neither Dana Air nor Boeing has offered an explanation as to what may have happened to the engine. Boeing has stated that it does not comment on impending legal cases, and Dana Air’s license has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. The manufacturer of the plane’s engines, the Pratt & Whitney unit of United Technologies, stated that it was “deeply saddened by the lives lost in the recent Dana Airlines incident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of all those involved in this incident.”
Needless to say, authorities are working to determine the cause of the failure. However, the lawsuit doesn’t just blame Boeing for the accident: it alleges that Waxtan, an experienced pilot, did not properly handle the aircraft when the engine failed. Waxtan had only worked for Dana Air for a matter of months, but he had reportedly worked as a commercial airline pilot for nearly 15 years, starting at Spirit Airlines in 1997. According to news sources, the lawsuit states that Waxtan, due to “negligence and carelessness,” did not “properly execute landing of the subject aircraft.”
One friend and former coworker of Waxtan’s told the press that this was likely not the case. “He was the best MD-80 captain I’ve ever seen,” the friend was quoted as saying. “He did everything he could to save that aircraft. In the end, if he knew it was going down, he did everything he could to minimize the amount of damage on the ground. If nothing else, his efforts were heroic.”
Waxtan reportedly left behind a fiancée, among other family members and friends. A sign at the pilot’s residence in Fort Lauderdale evidently requested that reporters respect the family’s privacy.