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The wives of two pilots killed in the 1998 crash of an airliner near Montreal filed suit in Delaware against plane maker Fairchild Dornier Corp. and others suppliers of parts for the plane. In two wrongful-death suits filed in Delaware Superior Court in Wilmington June 15, Clemence Michaud, widow of pilot Jean Provencher, and Lyne Strickler-Boulanger, widow of co-pilot Walter Strickler, contend Fairchild and B.F. Goodrich, maker of landing-gear brakes on the plane, were negligent in failing to warn about previous wheel-brake fires or provide pilots with procedures to handle such emergencies. The widows contend that an overheated landing gear brake started a fire in a wheel well of the Fairchild Metroliner II piloted by their husbands just after it took off from Montreal’s Dorval Airport on June 18, 1998. During an emergency landing attempt at nearby Mirabel Airport, the left wing fell off and the plane went down in flames. Provencher and Strickler were among the 11 people killed in the crash. The other victims were employees of General Electric Co. headed to Peterborough, Ontario, on the chartered flight. The companies knew of two other wheel-well fires in airplanes between 1998 and 1990 that were linked to overheated landing gear brakes, according to the lawsuit. A study by the U.S. Federal Aviation Commission also discovered nine incidents of landing gear or wheel well fires and 75 reports of brake malfunctions in B.F. Goodrich brakes over a five-year period, the suit added. Fairchild and B.F. Goodrich “should have known, for years before the crash, that Metroliners equipped with B.F. Goodrich [brakes] had a dangerous propensity to develop potentially catastrophic wheel-well fires,” according to the suit. The families are seeking unspecified damages through a jury trial in the case, according to court papers. They characterized the conduct of both defendants as “outrageous.” B.F. Goodrich said that Canadian investigators haven’t issued a final conclusion on the cause of the crash and noted that parts of the landing-gear brake systems are supplied by a number of companies. Fairchild Dornier is incorporated in Delaware, while BF Goodrich is registered to do business here. Because of these First State connections, the case can be tried in Delaware. The widows are represented in the lawsuit by Robert Jacobs of Wilmington’s Jacobs & Crumplar, along with David E. Rapoport and Paul D. Richter of Rapoport Law Offices in Rosemont, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. The lead case is, CA No. 001-06-157-SCD.

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