Last Month’s Fatal Airplane Crash Calls Safety of Airport Into Question

After a routine mosquito abatement flight, an airplane crash that left two dead will likely lead to changes at a Slidell airport.

Wayne Fisher, 68, and Donald Pechon, 59, were found dead after another pilot reported seeing a spark of electricity from high-power transmission lines near the Slidell Municipal Airport followed by a plume of flame just north of a runway.  The pilots collided with the transmission towers, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board.  The report notes that it was a calm, clear night at the time of the crash, with visibility at 10 miles.  According to Airport manager Richard Artigue, both men were experienced pilots and Fisher was a reserved deputy with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office and flew helicopters in that capacity.

The primary factor in the crash, appears to be the location of the towers in relation to the airport.  Even though the towers conform to Federal Aviation Administration regulations, Artigue reported that local officials have long recognized the potential safety hazard.   While the only other fatal crash at Slidell Municipal Airport occurred in 1974, the April 19 crash has compelled officials to address the relocation of the transmission lines. As Artigue noted, the airport is used by far less experienced pilots than Fisher and Pechon and is heavily utilized for student pilot training.

However, any change in location for the transmission towers would cost millions of dollars, according to both Artigue and Slidell City Councilman Val Vanney.  The inner and outer lines are owned by Cleco and Entergy, respectively, and Slidell city officials met with Cleco officials two weeks ago to discuss relocating or burying the lines, in what was described as a cooperative endeavor by Vanney.  Before the meeting, Slidell City Council had been poised to vote on a resolution to ask Cleco and Entergy to relocate or bury the lines, calling the move “absolutely necessary for the safety of the pilots” and urging the companies to “act as expeditiously as possible.”  The resolution was withdrawn in light of Cleco’s cooperativeness, as well as the complexity and cost of the project.

While no lawsuits have been filed at this time, the facts of the story are similar in complexity to what one finds in any litigation.   The attorneys at Broussard, David & Moroux have the knowledge and experience necessary to handle cases of this nature and will fight to obtain fair compensation for your injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered harm because of the fault of another, contact the attorneys at Broussard, David & Moroux to discuss your legal rights at (337) 233-2323 (local) or (888) 337-2323 (toll-free).

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