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Defunct Manitoba airline awarded millions stemming from 1998 crash in Wyoming

A Manitoba-based airline that went out of business in 2005 has been awarded more than $2.1 million in damages stemming from a fiery 1998 plane crash in Wyoming.


September 19, 2007
By Carey Fredericks

WINNIPEG (CP) _ A Manitoba-based airline that went out of business in 2005 has been awarded more than $2.1 million in damages stemming from a fiery 1998 plane crash in Wyoming.

Skyward Aviation learned this week the province's highest court had upheld a lower court decision to hold the Cessna Aircraft Co. liable for the accident.

Cessna had been seeking to overturn the ruling but the Manitoba Court of Appeal refused.

Cessna was also ordered to pay Nortel $270,000 for loss of cargo during the crash.

The two pilots of the plane, both from Thompson, Man., escaped with their lives just seconds before it went up in flames after a botched takeoff.

When the pilots had trouble getting the plane off the ground, they aborted the flight. But the Cessna Citation's drag chute, installed in 1997, failed when it was deployed.

The plane went down a hill, crossed a road, through a field across another road and smashed through a chain-link fence before crashing into a power pole and two cars 750 metres from the runway.

The Skyward flight had stopped in Rawlins, Wyo., to refuel on a flight from Winnipeg to Los Angeles.

No one was hurt in the incident, but witnesses said the pilots were lucky to escape with their lives.

"One of the pilots said that as they were leaving the plane, a ball of fire was following them," Rawlins police Capt. Mike Reed said at the time.

Transport Canada grounded the Manitoba airline in 2005 after an extensive audit revealed the record keeping, aircraft maintenance, and training were not meeting regulations.