Robert C. Winn, Ph.D., P.E.
Chairman of the Board, Principal & Director of Aviation
Phone: (719) 535-0400
Engineering Systems Inc. (ESI) has been a leader in aviation litigation support since our inception in 1987. Our Aviation Practice Group provides world-class aviation expertise with experienced staff located throughout the country. Over 70 technical personnel were involved in various aspects of aviation incidents last year, enabling the core group of over 30 to thoroughly analyze and report on all aspects of aircraft accident reconstruction, from ultralights to airliners, including:
- Mid-air collisions
- Airplane and helicopter performance analysis
- Flight path reconstruction from radar data and on-board data recording
- Airplane stability and control analyses
- Analysis of piloting actions and expectations
- Determination of ice build-up and its effect on aircraft performance characteristics
- Safety and maintenance procedure evaluations
- Analysis of control configuration, impact orientation, impact speed, impact direction, etc. using a thorough wreckage and site inspection
- Flight testing with on-board data and video recording
- Analysis of failed metal and composite materials
- Theoretical and computational fluid dynamic analysis
- Biomechanical and occupant kinematic evaluations
- Component and instrumentation inspections and testing
- Engine and accessory component inspection, testing, disassembly and analysis
- Gas turbine, aircraft and rotorcraft accident investigation training
Our aviation engineering staff is well trained and experienced, from the scholastic perspective, as well as the practical one. Our backgrounds encompass several areas such as maintenance, engine certification, design, testing, piloting, physics of flight, and the critical understanding of what can and can’t happen if the laws of physics are followed. Our staff is well published, even quoted by others in their cases, and we are often presenters, instructors, and teachers to the many universities, industry organizations and groups, and technical committees and subcommittees involved with the development and review of proper procedures for the aviation industry.
In addition to analyzing hundreds of general aviation accidents, we have played a major role in the most high-profile aircraft accidents in the past 25 plus years, including:
- Comair 3272, the crash of an Embraer 120 near Detroit in icing conditions. ESI performed detailed ice accretion analyses and combined it with airplane performance, cockpit voice recorder, and flight data recorder analyses to show that the crash was caused by the failure of the crew to use their ice protection system and maintain sufficient airspeed.
- ESI performed an accident reconstruction involving an in-flight breakup of a Piper Saratoga as it was maneuvering to land. ESI determined that the breakup resulted from an encounter with wing-tip vortices from a Boeing 737 that passed through the same area.
- USAir 1016, the DC-9 windshear accident in Charlotte, NC. ESI analyzed the radar and flight data recording to determine the winds actually experienced during the airplane’s windshear encounter. The result was an understanding of the impossible task facing the crew during the encounter.
- USAir 427, the Boeing 737 crash near Pittsburgh. ESI metallurgists used a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) to determine possible causes of a jamming of the servo that directs hydraulic fluid to the rudder actuator. ESI aviation experts then modified and tested an actual 737 to show the effect of a jam on rudder operation. Finally, ESI analyzed the data recovered from the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder to show that the airplane performance during the upset was consistent with a servo jam.
- American Airlines 1420, the MD-80 crash at Little Rock. ESI modeled the landing performance of the airplane and proved that the runway overrun was caused by the failure to deploy the spoilers when the airplane touched down.
- Numerous other high-profile accidents that are still in litigation including: Egypt Air 990 (Boeing 767) off the coast of New York, Continental Express 3407 (Bombardier DHC-8) near Buffalo, Continental 1404 (Boeing 737) on takeoff in Denver, the accident in Manhattan (Cirrus SR-20) that killed Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle, and the business jet crash into Lake Michigan (Cessna Citation) that killed an organ transplant team.
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