A US federal civil court jury in Miami has ruled that Jeppesen Sanderson and Honeywell Air Transport Systems must share the blame with American Airlines for the December 1995 crash of an American Airlines Boeing 757 in Cali, Colombia.

Further court hearings will be held to determine how much the two companies will have to pay in damages.

Colombian aviation officials said a series of pilot errors led to the crash, which killed 159 people. The 757 was bound for Cali when the two pilots lost track of their position and flew into a mountain. Accident investigators concluded that the flightdeck crew entered the wrong computer code that caused the aircraft to make an incorrect turn.

It is widely believed that the controlled-flight-into-terrain (CFIT) loss could have been avoided had the Boeing aircraft been equipped with the Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS).

The lawsuit was brought by American, which alleged that faulty software provided by the two firms caused the crash. American wants Jeppesen and Honeywell to pay a portion of the $300 million already paid out to crash victims and families.

The Miami jury said Jeppesen was 17% responsible and Honeywell was 8% at fault, with the jurors ruling that they had introduced a defective product. American was held responsible for 75% of the accident.

American acknowledges mistakes by the cockpit crew were primarily to blame, but adds that "a defective database" supplied by the two companies and loaded into the aircraft flight management computer contributed to the fatal crash of the aircraft.

American says that Jeppesen and Honeywell "intentionally left the defect in their database uncorrected and unannounced for a number of years".

Source: Flight International