PRIVY COUNCIL VINDICATES BAHAMASAIR IN THE 2007 DASH 8 CRASH LANDING IN GOVERNOR’S HARBOUR, ELEUTHERA.

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Bahamasair’s Maintenance Department has been completely vindicated by the Privy Council…

Attroney Krystal Rolle of Rolle and Rolle defending the Bahamas for Bahamians at the Privy Council on March 15th, 2018.

Nassau – On Friday, 20th April, 2007 Bahamasair’s DHC-8-301 aircraft (“Dash 8” aircraft), bearing Registration C6-BFN departed from New Providence, Bahamas with 48 passengers aboard and flew to Governor’s Harbour, Eleuthera, Bahamas. Upon touchdown at Governor’s Harbour International Airport the left main landing gear of the Dash 8 aircraft collapsed.

The landing gear collapsed because it had failed structurally and it had failed structurally because there was no shock absorption or “cushioning” when the aircraft landed.

The shock absorption or “cushioning” is provided by a shock strut apparatus within the landing gear. The interior of this shock strut apparatus includes two (2) critical parts called the Upper Bearing and the Damper Ring. It is the Upper Bearing and Damper Ring which work together along with Hydraulic Fluid within the shock strut, to provide shock absorption when the aircraft lands.

After the crash landing of Bahamasair’s Dash 8 aircraft, a fleet wide inspection conducted by Bahamasair’s Maintenance Department in May, 2007 determined that the Upper Bearings and Damper Rings in some of the landing gears were damaged. Significantly, the Damper Ring, a vital component of the shock absorption process was broken into multiple pieces as depicted below.

The landing gear collapsed because it had failed structurally and it had failed structurally because there was no shock absorption or “cushioning” when the aircraft landed.

The shock absorption or “cushioning” is provided by a shock strut apparatus within the landing gear. The interior of this shock strut apparatus includes two (2) critical parts called the Upper Bearing and the Damper Ring. It is the Upper Bearing and Damper Ring which work together along with Hydraulic Fluid within the shock strut, to provide shock absorption when the aircraft lands.

A fleet wide inspection conducted by Bahamasair’s Maintenance Department in May, 2007 determined that the Upper Bearings and Damper Rings in some of the landing gears were damaged. Significantly, the Damper Ring, a vital component of the shock absorption process was broken into multiple pieces as depicted below.

As a result of what had been found, Messier Dowty in August, 1997, redesigned both the Upper Bearing and the Damper Ring, making them significantly more robust than the old design. However, despite having found and documented these problems with the old parts and despite having re-designed the parts making them significantly more robust to prevent the problem they had found, Messier Dowty never told Bahamasair or other Dash 8 operators about the problems they had encountered with the old parts and they never told Bahamasair or other Dash 8 operators that they should take out the old parts and replace them with the new redesigned more robust parts.

The same latent damage which Bahamasair found within the landing gear of its Dash 8 aircraft in May, 2007 had, unbeknownst to Bahamasair, been discovered and rectified by Messier Dowty more than Ten (10) years earlier in 1997 but Messier Dowty had never told Bahamasair about it.

Bahamasair’s Insurers commenced legal action against Messier Dowty in the Supreme Court on 2nd November 2011 alleging (1). that the Damper Ring and Upper Bearing were defective and incapable of tolerating the usage which had been recommended Messier Dowty, (2). that Messier Dowty was aware of the problem having redesigned the parts for this very reason and (3). that Messier Dowty had failed to warn Bahamasair about the problems encountered with the old parts.

The case was heard by the then Honourable Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Sir Michael L Barnett on 11th – 13th November 2013. On 20th October, 2014 the Chief Justice found in favour of Bahamasair and awarded damages in the amount of US$3,484,459.00 for the loss of the aircraft which had been damaged beyond repair plus interest in the amount of US$1,770,868.89 and legal costs.

Messier Dowty appealed to the Court of Appeal who on 14th December, 2015 set aside the Honourable Chief Justice’s Judgment in its entirety. Bahamasair then appealed to the Judicial Committee of Her Majesty’s Privy Council asserting that the Court of Appeal had erred when it set aside the Judgment of the Chief Justice.

Bahamasair’s appeal was heard in the Privy Council on 15th March, 2018 and on 8th October, 2018 the Privy Council allowed Bahamasair’s appeal, set aside the Court of Appeal’s Judgement and restored the Supreme Court’s Judgment in it’s favour.

Bahamasair’s Judgment against Messier Dowty now stands.

Significantly, despite Messier Dowty’s knowledge of the problems with the old parts, its knowledge that this was the reason for the redesign of the parts and its knowledge that it had never told Bahamasair about these problems and the specific reason for the redesign, Messier Dowty never accepted responsibility for what happened to Bahamasair’s Dash 8 aircraft and the risk this had presented to the crew and the 48 passengers who were on board the aircraft on that day.

Instead, Messier Dowty asserted in the Supreme Court, in the Court of Appeal and even at the Privy Council that the landing gear of Bahamasair’s Dash 8 aircraft collapsed because of Bahamasair’s poor maintenance along with all other manner of alleged fault or omission on the part of Bahamasair’s Maintenance Department.

In other words, rather than accept responsibility for what they knew to be a problem, Messier Dowty consistently tried to blame Bahamasair’s Maintenance Department for this incident.

It is to advise the 48 passengers and crew of Bahamasair’s Flight 353 of 20th April, 2007 as well as the Bahamian Public at large, that as it relates to the crash landing of that Dash 8 aircraft on that day, Bahamasair’s Maintenance Department has been completely vindicated by the Privy Council.

A copy of the Privy Council Judgment dated 8th October, 2018 is attached.
Mrs. Krystal D. Rolle, Attorney at Law of Messrs. Rolle & Rolle has represented the Insurers for Bahamasair at the Supreme Court level, at the Court of Appeal level and at the Privy Council.

THANKFULLY, Bahamasair now no longer utilize the Dash 8 aircrafts. These were all replaced with New French made A T R aircrafts purchased by the former government.

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD JUDGEMENT: jcpc-2017-0053-judgment

Bahamasair Dash8 incident.

DAMAGED UPPER BEARING

FRAGMENTED DAMPER RING.