Continental Crash Suit Blames Air Traffic Controllers

Air Traffic Controllers Underestimated Wind Speed, Lawsuit Says

Passengers on a Continental Airlines flight that crashed at Denver International Airport are blaming air traffic controllers for the accident.

A lawsuit against the federal government, filed in federal court by 21 passengers last week, claims air traffic controllers underestimated the wind speed and broke Federal Aviation Administration rules in allowing the plane to take off, according to the Denver Post.

In December 2008, the plane veered off the runway during takeoff and down a ravine, where it caught fire. All 110 passengers and five crew members managed to escape. Six people were seriously injured and dozens others were treated for minor injuries.

The crash of Continental Flight 1404 was blamed on pilot error and a strong crosswind.

A National Transportation Safety Board report released last year said the pilot failed to make the proper rudder adjustments to keep the plane on the runway while dealing with gusting cross winds. The NTSB report also cited air-traffic controllers' failure to provide "key, available" information about the wind as a contributing factor, according to the paper.

Settlements have already been reached in lawsuits filed against Boeing Co. That lawsuit claimed Chicago-based Boeing negligently designed or manufactured certain parts of the Continental Airlines plane, including its "directional control mechanism."

A separate lawsuit against Continental is pending in Texas.

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