Remember the Sport-Jet (VLJ) crash in June of 2006? Miraculously, the two occupants walked away from a cartwheel crash! The trial date will be set in a couple of weeks. This is shaping up as one to watch!
It appears it could be another case of controller error (i.e. Dallas) where the pilot is blamed. Unfortunately, it looks like the FAA/Justice Department is pushing their "experts" to "say whatever it takes" to win (no surprise here) even to the point of fabricating data and using the same tired theory; "it's always the pilots fault." In the past, the pilots were dead and the accidents occurred during landing or significantly after takeoff. And dead pilots cannot defend themselves against highly paid government experts who spout aviation quackery.
It doesn't appear as if the government experts will have the same "easy ride" on this case! First, the pilot (a distinguished black pilot) is alive (along with the flight engineer). Both can state what really happened and it doesn't correlate to the government's assertions. Second, the crash scene is well contained and easily analyzed for excellent forensic evidence.
This case is important to GA safety. Determining the true cause of an accident is paramount so accidents are not repeated. It appears that two highly experienced aviation professionals (Stewart as the pilot and Bornhofen as a designer/builder) have their guns "locked and loaded." For more on this see a recent PilotMag article "The Sport-Jet Story." www.pilotmag.com
This case could be explosive!
No, this case imploded on the Excel-Jet team. Their case was weak, desperate, and embarassingly ridiculous. This was not a case of controller error; the controller (me) did everything correctly - in fact, I did more than was required. The accident was not caused by wake turbulence, and there are issues with the aircraft's mechanical condition, the flight test program, the aircraft design and the pilot's situational awareness. The judge found for the USA (and by extension the FAA and Colorado Springs ATCT and me) and against Excel-Jet because the FACTS supported that decision. Don't believe Excel-Jet's propaganda - remember, they want to sell airplanes. I'd have a lot of questions before I bought one.....