DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The father of a student pilot who died when his plane crashed during his commercial pilot lesson in Florida is suing Piper Aircraft.
Navy veteran Zack Capra, 25, and Federal Aviation Administration pilot examiner John S. Azma were killed April 4, 2018, when the left wing came off the Piper PA-28 they were flying west of Daytona Beach International Airport.
According to reports, federal investigators listed metal fatigue as the cause of the wing falling off the aircraft.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports that Capra was a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which has since stopped flying Piper PA-28s. A spokesperson tells News 6 students are no longer required to train on them.
Capra's father, John Charles Capra, said in the wrongful death lawsuit that the "horror and fear of impending death for pilots of an in-flight breakup of their aircraft cannot be overstated." He called it a "pilot's worst nightmare come true."
According to the lawsuit, Capra's attorney is claiming the company knew of structural failures in the Piper PA-28 aircraft since at least 1987 after another plane with a similar flight history crashed and the pilot died.
The suit states after the 1987 crash, the FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive that required extensive inspection of the wings. The suit claims Pipier lobbied the FAA to have the order withdrawn.
The lawsuit states that made "the unilateral decision to risk the lives of every pilot and aircraft owner."
The suit also claims Piper knew for years before the 1987 crash that "more than a hundred PA-28 aircraft had suffered in-flight structural failures resulting in the loss of life of hundreds of occupants," the lawsuit states.
Capra's attorney claims Piper no longer sends notices to pilots or owners requiring more serious inspections of the aircraft.
According to the lawsuit, another plane at Embry Riddle was inspected after the fatal crash and it had a similar crack in the wing.
Piper did not respond to questions about the lawsuit, which can be read in the link above.
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