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KROPP v. DOUGLAS AIRCRAFT CO.

June 25, 1971

Dorothy KROPP, as Administratrix of the Estate of Charles R. Kropp, Deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
DOUGLAS AIRCRAFT CO., Inc. and the United States of America, Defendants


Zavatt, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: ZAVATT

ZAVATT, District Judge.

This is an action to recover damages for the death of Charles R. Kropp (Kropp), an employee of Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation (Grumman), which occurred over the high seas (approximately fifty miles East of Montauk Point, Long Island, New York) when he exited an A3A aircraft, manufactured by the defendant Douglas Aircraft Co., Inc. (Douglas), owned by the defendant United States of America (the Government) and piloted by one Donald Runyon (Runyon), another Grumman employee. The several claims against the Government are grounded in the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1291, 1346, 1402, 1504, 2110, 2401, 2402, 2411, 2412, 2671 et seq., and the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA), 46 U.S.C. §§ 761-768. The claim against Douglas is based upon claims of negligence in design and construction and breach of warranty. Plaintiff alleges in its amended complaint that the aircraft was not only owned by the Government but was also operated and controlled by it at the time of the fatal accident and throughout all of the period prior thereto, during which the said aircraft was based at the airfield at Calverton, Long Island, New York, (hereinafter referred to as Peconic), owned by the Government and leased to Grumman.

 The Navy and Grumman entered into Contract No. w 63-0540-b (the contract) on June 27, 1963 for the term July 1, 1963 through June 30, 1966 (Ex. 1), pursuant to which the Navy delivered 31 of its aircraft to Grumman, none of which was an A3A aircraft. By memorandum dated February 6, 1964 (Ex. 4-A), the subject A3A was furnished by the Navy to Grumman for the period ending April 1, 1964 pursuant to the terms of the contract. The contract refers to "the Contractor's possession and prospective use of such aircraft." The contractor agreed to "provide adequate storage for Government Furnished Property in the custody of the Contractor * * *"; to maintain the aircraft and equipment "in accordance with the standard Naval Aircraft Maintenance Program, as administered and directed by the cognizant reporting custodian" and to return said property "to the Government in the same condition as when received by the Contractor; except for (i) normal wear and tear * * * No costs incurred in the performance of this bailment contract shall be reimbursed to the Contractor hereunder" (Ex. 1, sections 2, 3, 5).

 The aircraft so furnished to Grumman were to be used by it to "perform the services which are called for in the projects agreed to between the Contractor and the Government," which projects, "may be in the form of formal contract, or by exchange of letters or telegrams" (Ex. 1, section 4). "Upon delivery into the custody of the Contractor, Government Furnished Property hereunder shall be governed by the terms and conditions of this contract while and so long as it is in the custody of the Contractor * * *" (Ex. 1, section 5(c)). The bailment of the A3A to Grumman pursuant to the contract was extended to May 15, 1965 (Exs. 4-B, 4-D). The contract's projects related to the development and evaluation of "the E-2A AEW System," i.e., the radar and long range tracking system being tested by Grumman for use in the E-2A aircraft (Ex. 4; 297).* The A3A was being used, pursuant to the contract, as a target for the evaluation of said radar equipment (Ex. 4-B). It was hangared by Grumman at Peconic. Prior to the fatal accident, it had made thirty flights out of Peconic, all piloted by various employees of Grumman, including Runyon (Ex. HH).

 Runyon was a retired Navy Commander with extensive experience as a flight engineer and pilot of military aircraft. During his naval career, spanning thirty years, he first served as a plane captain (mechanic); then as a pilot serving aboard aircraft carriers, including the Enterprise, Yorktown, Lexington, Saratoga and Bunker Hill during World War II; a test pilot at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland; a test pilot at the Naval Advisory Committee of Aeronautics, Moffet Field, California; a pilot at a development squadron at Atlantic City, New Jersey. When he retired in July 1963, he had accumulated 7,000 hours of flight time in virtually every type of naval aircraft, including 75 to 80 hours in the A3A.

 In August 1964 he became assistant to the head of the Grumman flight testing department and was designated as a test pilot a few months thereafter (276), in which capacity he was serving on the date of the accident. During employment by Grumman he had re-qualified as an A3A pilot and it is not disputed that he was qualified and Navy approved to pilot the A3A (Exs. 9, 10, 11).

 The Fatal Flight.

 On the morning of January 27, 1965, the A3A was to be piloted by Runyon and flown as the target for a radar test to be conducted by Grumman personnel aboard an E-2A. The E-2A is a highly sophisticated craft, designed to accommodate a 15-man crew and to be used as a central intelligence center (CIC) to detect airborne aircraft. The A3A was to be the target because its surface area approximated that of planes which the E-2A radar equipment would hopefully detect (1122). The courses, positions and altitudes of the A3A were to be as directed from the E-2A. The flight plan called for the A3A to take off from Peconic and the E-2A to take off from Bethpage. For this non-tactical A3A flight, a minimum of two "flight crew" members is required (Exs. 12-C, 19). (There will be further reference infra to "flight crew" members.)

 The only plane captain of this A3A, approved by the Navy as of January 27, 1965, was John Young (Young). It was not disputed at the trial that Young was qualified and approved by the Navy as a flight crew member of the A3A. Grumman was training Kropp to become a plane captain. Young was to accompany Runyon on the flight. In fact, he was on his way to "suit up" after having met Runyon in the vicinity of the craft. While Runyon was signing requisite forms and filing a Flight Plan with Grumman's Flight Operations at Peconic, Young went to "suit up." On his way, his foreman, Mr. Schick (a Grumman employee) called him to his office. Following a conversation, Young did not go on the flight (2051-52) although he was at the flight line prior to the plane being boarded.

 When Runyon was ready to board the A3A, Kropp was at the plane. Runyon knew Kropp as a Grumman maintenance employee who had been aboard the A3A with Young as part of his training as a plane captain on two occasions when Runyon piloted the plane (330-333). Although there is no testimony in the record, it is reasonable to infer that Runyon learned that Young was not to accompany him on this flight; that Kropp was being substituted for Young.

 Runyon was the first to enter the plane. He proceeded to the pilot's seat and strapped himself in. In this position he could not close either hatch door or have personal knowledge as to whether they were properly secured. Nor did the instrument panel contain any device to indicate whether the lower hatch was locked. Before taxiing for take off, Runyon was required to fill out a checkoff list on which one item is the position of the lower door. It was Kropp's duty to close and lock both hatches. The man who directs the taxiing of a plane from its standing position is called "the plane director" (527). When he signals the pilot of an A3A that the plane is ready to go, that signal means to the pilot (as it did to Runyon on this flight) that the lower door is in place and locked (524). Runyon did not remember what he saw Kropp do prior to takeoff (520). He did testify as to the normal procedure preceding takeoff, as far as the check list and hatches are concerned. The other person aboard assists the pilot with the check list and indicates to him that the lower door is closed and locked. Runyon testified that Kropp "indicated to me * * * that the hatches were up, locked and closed" and that this was part of the normal procedure (541).

 Young testified that, from outside the plane, he "closed" the lower door (607). It "was half latched and it dropped at the trailing edge approximately an inch * * * or an inch and a half." "The door dropped down a little from the external skin," i.e., it was not flush with the under part of the fuselage. In order to be raised and flush it has to be locked (608). Young could have locked it from the outside by means of the "external handle" (the operation of which is explained infra). He did not do so because the regular procedure was to leave it "up to the plane captain in the aircraft to secure his aircraft" (608, 609, 1875). He saw the door go up and fair with the fuselage. From the outside he could not tell whether the door went into the final locked position (1876).

 The A3A took off from Peconic at approximately 10 A.M. with Runyon seated in the forward left or pilot's seat and Kropp seated to his right in the bombardier-navigator's or flight crewman's seat (359). Runyon proceeded in an eastwardly direction and was climbing to attain an ultimate altitude of 40,000 feet (1139). His air speed was approximately 300 knots (360 M.P.H.). At from 5,000 to 7,000 feet, the pressurization system was turned on but failed to function, at first. Runyon "recycled" the switch (turned it off and on) as a result of which the pressurization system began to function at approximately 14,000 feet and continued to function throughout the flight. There was no malfunction of the pressurization system from that time on and, accordingly, I refuse to make the plaintiff's requested finding that this system malfunctioned, with its implication that this was a proximate cause of the accident. (Ironically, if the cabin had not been pressurized, the accident could not have occurred and, presumably, Kropp would be alive today.)

 One of the panel instruments was a navigational device (TACAN) which enables the pilot to determine his distance from a given ground point, by means of a "lock-on" device, which automatically measures the distance from the plane to the fixed ground point. When the TACAN indicated that the plane was 175 miles from Riverhead, Runyon knew from his experience that he was only 50 to 60 miles from that ground point. He mentioned to Kropp over his mike that the TACAN was not functioning properly. Although not requested or ordered to do anything, Kropp said that he was going to go aft for a check. He left his seat with his helmet, oxygen mask and parachute on and went to the after section of the cockpit. In the after section of the cockpit there are numerous dials and indicators and, apparently, it was these items that, initially, Kropp went aft to check. Runyon knew that the TACAN circuit breakers, which are located in the bulkhead of the companionway, had been checked as part of the pre-flight check and that they had all been in place (660-668). He thought that Kropp knew something about the plane that he, Runyon, did not know. Although Runyon could not see Kropp, they were in communication over the intercom system (ICS). After a short period of time, Kropp stated that everything aft appeared O.K., that he was going into the companionway to check the circuit breakers and that he would have to depressurize. Runyon said over the ICS, "Don't do that," to which Kropp did not answer. Runyon glanced at his left console panel to make sure that Kropp was not touching the pressure switches and placed his hand over the switches to be sure that Kropp would not depressurize the cabin (Exhibit 18, Tr. 656-670).

 The proper procedure for depressurizing an aircraft during a non-emergency situation, to enable a crewman to enter the companionway during flight, is to first descend to an altitude at which the person entering the companionway may do so without the need of oxygen equipment and then to depressurize the cockpit in order to prevent explosive decompression (822).

 Two or three seconds after Runyon ordered Kropp not to depressurize, he felt the force of explosive decompression which rendered him shocked and dizzy. In response to his call to the tower at Peconic, a plane already airborne notified Runyon that the lower door of his A3A was cracked, i.e., open about one to one and one-half inches. Apparently, after Kropp exited from the plane, the slip stream pushed the lower door back to its half-latched position.

 The plaintiff originally claimed negligence in the search and rescue procedures. The evidence negatived any such negligence and the plaintiff has not requested a finding of negligence on this score. Therefore, no reference is made to the evidence in this regard adduced at the trial.

 JURISDICTION

 Section 1 of the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA), 46 U.S.C. § 761, grants a right of action for damages to the personal representative of one whose death "shall be caused by wrongful act, neglect, or default occurring on the high seas beyond a marine league" from the shore of any United States territory. The right of action so granted is limited, however, to the extent that suits under the Act are exclusively within the jurisdiction of federal admiralty courts. Safir v. Compagnie Generale Transatlantique, 241 F. Supp. 501 (E.D.N.Y. 1965); Wilson v. Transocean Airlines, 121 F. Supp. 85 (N.D. Cal. 1954).

 In determining whether a tort claim comes within the jurisdiction of a federal court sitting in admiralty, the crucial factor appears to be the locality of the tort, i.e., where the tort occurred. If the tort occurred on navigable waters (or, for purposes of the DOHSA, on the "high seas"), the claim comes within the jurisdiction of admiralty courts. Weinstein v. Eastern Airlines, Inc., 316 F.2d 758 (3d Cir. 1963), cert. denied, 375 U.S. 940, 84 S. Ct. 343, 11 L. Ed. 2d 271 (1964); Montgomery v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 231 F. Supp. 447, 454 (S.D.N.Y. 1964). Under this so-called "locality" test, the tort is deemed to have occurred at the place of injury, rather than the place where the tort had its inception. In other words, admiralty jurisdiction in tort depends upon the situs of the tort, not upon its character or how it came about. Weinstein, supra, 316 F.2d at 762-763; Wilson, supra, 121 F. Supp. at 92.

 Despite the wide acceptance of the "locality" test, a minority of cases adhere to what has been termed the "locality plus" test. Under the latter standard, admiralty jurisdiction in tort cases depends upon two factors: (1) the tort must occur on navigable waters; (2) the tort must have a maritime connection or arise from the breach of some maritime duty. Chapman v. City of Grosse Point Farms, 385 F.2d 962 (6th Cir. 1967). As will appear, infra, under either the "locality" test or the "locality plus" test, the instant case satisfies the requirements for admiralty jurisdiction under the DOHSA.

 In the instant case, given that plaintiff's decedent exited the aircraft approximately fifty miles off the coast of Long Island "beyond a marine league" from shore (and the court so finds), the application of the "locality test" would seem to dictate that the case comes within the court's admiralty jurisdiction under the DOHSA. Nevertheless, cases involving airplane accidents over water reflect a divergence of opinion on the question of whether such accidents in fact occur on the high seas or navigable waters of the United States, as required for admiralty jurisdiction. It is clear that tort claims for wrongful death arising out of the crash of an aircraft into navigable waters beyond a marine league from shore are within the terms of the DOHSA. Weinstein, supra; Krause v. Sud-Aviation, Societe Nationale de Constr. Aero., 301 F. Supp. 513 (S.D.N.Y. 1968), aff'd, 413 F.2d 428 (2d Cir. 1969); King v. Pan American World Airways, 166 F. Supp. 136 (N.D. Cal. 1958), aff'd, 270 F.2d 355 (9th Cir. 1959), cert. denied, 362 U.S. 928, 80 S. Ct. 753, 4 L. Ed. 2d 746 (1960); Fernandez v. Linea Aeropostal Venezolana, 156 F. Supp. 94 (S.D.N.Y. 1957); Higa v. Transocean Airlines, 124 F. Supp. 13 (D.C. Hawaii 1954); Wilson, supra; Lacey v. L.W. Wiggins Airways, Inc., 95 F. Supp. 916 (D. Mass. 1951).

 In Weinstein, supra, an airplane en route from Boston to Philadelphia crashed into the waters of Boston Harbor, within one marine league from shore. The court, going further than the cases just cited, held that, since navigable waters include both the high seas and waters navigable in fact, the navigable waters of Boston Harbor were within the territorial jurisdiction of admiralty. 316 F.2d at 761. It is also instructive to note that the court in Weinstein stated that, even if a "locality plus" test were used, the case would still be cognizable in admiralty. The court reasoned that, because over-sea air travel has become as common as travel by ship, the dangers inherent in airplane crashes on the high seas are similar to those existing when a ship sinks or when two vessels collide, all of which situations should come within admiralty tort jurisdiction. The implication here is that the maritime connection required by the "locality plus" test can be found in the mere fact that the accident in question occurs on navigable waters. 316 F.2d at 763. Applying the reasoning of Weinstein to the instant case, it similarly appears that, because the decedent fell into the "high seas," the "locality plus" test is satisfied.

 In addition to cases holding airplane crashes into navigable waters to be within admiralty tort jurisdiction, under both the "locality" and "locality plus" tests, there is also authority for the recognition in admiralty of wrongful death actions arising out of aviation mishaps in the airspace above the high seas. National Airlines, Inc. v. Stiles, 268 F.2d 400 (5th Cir. 1959); D'Aleman v. Pan American World Airways, 259 F.2d 493 (2d Cir. 1958); Trihey v. Transocean Air Lines, Inc., 255 F.2d 824 (9th Cir. 1958); Notarian v. TWA, Inc., 244 F. Supp. 874 (W.D. Pa. 1965); Noel v. United Aircraft Corp., 204 F. Supp. 929 (D. Del. 1962), aff'd, 342 F.2d 232 (3d Cir. 1965).

 In D'Aleman v. Pan American World Airways, supra, an action under the DOHSA for wrongful death allegedly due to shock induced by the pilot's announcement of engine trouble, the Second Circuit, affirming a judgment for the airline, said:

 
"The statutory expression 'on the high seas' should be capable of expansion to, under, or, over, as scientific advances change the methods of travel. The law would indeed be static if a passenger on a ship were protected by the Act and another passenger in the identical location three thousand feet above in a plane were not. Nor should the plane have to crash into the sea to bring the death within the Act * * *." 259 F.2d at 495.

 See Lavello v. Danko, 175 F. Supp. 92 (S.D.N.Y. 1959).

 In light of the reasoning of the cases discussed, it would appear that, in the instant case, whether the tort is deemed to have occurred in the airspace over the high seas (i.e., at the moment when the decedent exited the plane) or on the high seas (i.e., at the point of impact with the water), the exercise by this court of admiralty jurisdiction under the DOHSA is clearly warranted.

 An action for wrongful death, based upon an alleged breach of warranty, is cognizable under the DOHSA. Weinstein, supra; Krause, supra; Montgomery, supra; Middleton v. United Aircraft Corp., 204 F. Supp. 856 (S.D.N.Y. 1960). See Sevits v. McKiernan-Terry Corp., 264 F. Supp. 810 (S.D.N.Y. 1966).

 Suits maintainable against a private person based on the DOHSA may similarly be brought against the Government by virtue of the Federal Tort Claims Act, United States v. Gavagan, 280 F.2d 319 (5th Cir. 1960), cert. denied, 364 U.S. 933, 81 S. Ct. 379, 5 L. Ed. 2d 365 (1961); Blumenthal v. United States, 189 F. Supp. 439 (E.D. Pa. 1960), aff'd, 306 F.2d 16 (3d Cir. 1962); Moran v. United States, 102 F. Supp. 275 (D. Conn. 1951), unless the suit comes within the exceptions to that Act, as to which the Government has not waived its sovereign immunity. *fn1"

 The court holds that it has jurisdiction of the plaintiff's claim against Douglas based upon negligent design and construction and breach of warranty. As to the claims against the Government, the court holds that it has jurisdiction, unless the acts or omissions of the Government come within the exceptions to jurisdiction under the Federal Tort Claims Act, discussed infra.

 The Design and Construction of the A3A.

 Since negligence in design and construction is one of the basic grounds upon which the plaintiff seeks to recover against both defendants, it is appropriate to trace the history of the A3A from the negotiations between the Government and Douglas, culminating in the contract between them for the production of an all-weather heavy attack, landbased, shipboard-based aircraft capable of carrying an atomic bomb, through its design and construction.

 In 1947, the Navy commenced discussions with Douglas' Chief Engineer concerning its desire to obtain a jet-propelled bomber capable of carrying an atomic bomb and of taking off from and landing on a Navy carrier. This was to be an aircraft of higher performance than its AJ bomber (a propeller-driven aircraft) and one of high performance comparable to that of the B-47. Because the mission of the contemplated aircraft was to carry and deliver an atomic bomb, which must be armed while the aircraft is in flight, access from the cockpit to the bomb bay was a sine qua non.

 The particular mission of a military aircraft, of necessity, determines many of its design features. For the plane must be so designed and constructed as to be capable of performing its special mission. As Mr. Leo Devlin, Douglas' Chief Designer during the design and construction stages of the A3A, testified:

 
"Well you try to do the best job for the purpose intended. You have to watch reliability, safety, performance * * * Designing a plane is a compromise from start to finish. You've got to take all things into account and do the best job that you can." (4610)

 Safety is one of the design features and, as such, is governed by these general design principles. It would be highly desirable, for example, that a plane such as the A3A have a "back-up system," (a duplicate mechanism for each operating part of the plane) in an attempt to insure 100% reliability of the plane's systems. However, weight and size are vital considerations, particularly in military craft. Every one pound of increased weight of an airplane translates into six pounds on the over-all configuration, for increased weight increases the wing-load, requires a greater wing span and a heavier fuel load for the predetermined non-refueling flight range of the craft. For these and a variety of other reasons, back-up systems (although desirable from the standpoint of safety) are not feasible in every instance in the design and construction of a military craft such as the A3A. This is not to say that designers are unconcerned with safety. Rather, they attempt to design as safe a plane as possible within the scope of its mission. The dealings between the appropriate agency of the Government and the designer and manufacturer of the plane can be analogized to the person who orders a tailor-made suit and the tailor. The designing of a combat plane is a lengthy process covering approximately five years from the concept of the plane to its manufacture for production and use (740). The design of such a plane begins rather informally with an idea or suggestion which may emanate either from the manufacturer or the Government -- usually the latter. The gamut of plane design and construction runs from idea to design to mock-up to prototype to test work and culminates in a production craft. Along this road, many modifications and changes are suggested and considered; some are accepted; some are rejected. But there comes a time when the design is "frozen" and production begins. The order to freeze the design, in the instant case, was that of the Chief of Naval Operations.

 The initial studies indicated that the proposed A3A (equipped for its intended use) would weigh 200,000 pounds -- far too large and heavy to land and be hangared on the CVB Navy carriers (the Forrestal class) and smaller Navy carriers (4584-85). Navy studies reduced the weight to approximately 130,000 pounds. Through further studies, Douglas was able to reduce the weight of the plane, so equipped, to approximately 70,000 pounds. Such a plane would be able to operate off CVB class carriers as well as smaller carriers in the Navy fleet (4585). Reducing the weight from 130,000 to 70,000 pounds necessitated the combination of functions wherever possible. For example, since access from the cockpit to the bomb bay was an absolute necessity, a companionway for such access was designed to also serve as a means of normal entry and exit and emergency escape from the plane (4585-86). All possible means of emergency escape, including ejection seats, were considered by the Government and Douglas. The use of ejection seats in an A3A to be manned by a crew of three, was rejected because (1) it would have increased the translated weight by 3,000 pounds over the weight of an escape chute; (2) the chute system was considered simpler and more reliable (4604); (3) the state of the art was such, when the A3A was being designed and constructed, that no three place ejection system was then feasible and, in fact, "had never been done." (4606, 4601-10).

 Following discussions between the Government and Douglas for a period of approximately one and one-half years, and in 1949, the parties negotiated a contract for the design and construction of two prototype aircraft designated X-A3D-1. Before they were built, mockups were constructed. These are scale model replicas of the actual systems to be used, which are tested to prove the general concept of the design (4592) and are built after the detailed specifications (Exhibit Q) have been prepared and approved (4594). A Mock-up Board, consisting of Navy specialists, was convened by the Navy to inspect these models. Following the report of this Board, the two prototypes were built pursuant to the Exhibit Q specifications.

 Douglas, then the Navy, conducted test flights of these prototypes. Thereafter, they were subjected to full-scale testing (suitability tests) by the Navy at its naval facility at Patuxent River, Maryland. The purpose of the suitability tests is to determine whether the prototypes are suitable for Navy use. Two subsequent contracts for production of the A3A were entered into -- one for approximately 12 (the detailed specifications of which are Exhibit R) and the other Number NOAS 52-981, Exhibit 61), for approximately 38 such planes (the detailed specifications of which are Exhibit S). The A3A involved in the instant action was produced pursuant to Exhibit 61 and bears the Navy designating number 135412.

 The A3A was delivered by Douglas to the Navy on August 30, 1955 and flown in Navy service during a period of nine years before it was delivered on January 24, 1964, to the "custody" of Captain Harold Vita (Vita), the representative of the Bureau of Weapons of the Navy (BUWEPS Rep.) stationed at the Bethpage plant of Grumman (Exhibit 5). Vita's function was to supervise all contracts between the military forces and Grumman and, as such, was the local Navy custodian of the aircraft.

 This aircraft received considerable attention (in addition to many different types of inspection), including one overhaul, interim rework, repair, in-service repair, and several progressive aircraft reworks over the period from August 30, 1955 to July 3, 1963, before it was delivered to Bethpage-Peconic on January 24, 1964 (Exhibit A).

 General Description of the A3A.

 The A3A is entered via a chute formed by two hatches -- one hinged to the underside of the craft and the other hinged to the flight deck. In fully closed positions these hatches or doors are parallel. The lower hatch fairs with the underside of the fuselage; the upper hatch forms part of the flight deck. In the fully opened positions, both hatches form a contiguous chute, with the lower hatch extending below the underside of the fuselage. For purposes of normal entrance and exit, the lower hatch has three and the upper hatch has two recessed steps for use as hand and foot holds to facilitate climbing into and descending from the plane. For purposes of an emergency exit, the hatches open in tandem and afford a hasty exit by sliding down the chute.

 The bomb bay, which is aft of the flight deck, is accessible from the flight deck by means of the upper hatch. One desiring to move from the flight deck to the bomb bay lowers the upper hatch and also lowers a hinged steel plate (referred to as the companionway safety door) which, when pulled down, lays above the lower hatch and rests against the sides of the companionway. A crewman desiring to enter the bomb bay from the flight deck steps down the lowered upper hatch on to the steel plate and then enters the bomb bay.

 Recessed into the left bulkhead of the companionway are various circuit breakers. These are accessible from the flight deck, when the plane is in flight, by lowering the upper hatch under proper procedures.

 Operation and Closing of Hatches.

 Each hatch of the A3A is operated by two handles which are connected through a cable and pulley arrangement. To illustrate the operation of these handles, two situations will be described: (1) entrance into the craft from the ground and (2) exit from the craft upon landing.

 Entrance into the craft.

 Assuming that the lower hatch is locked, the crewman will unlock and lower it by use of a rotating handle which is recessed into that part of the underside of the fuselage formed by the underside of the lower hatch itself. Once the lower hatch is open, a chute will be formed with the upper door, which is open when the plane is on the ground. The crewman enters the plane by climbing up this chute. The lower door may then be closed in one of three ways:

 1) ground personnel may push up that door to its closed position and lock it from the outside by use of the said recessed rotating handle;

 2) ground personnel may push up that lower door to a position on its latches (half-latch) and then the crewman inside the plane will lock that door by use of the lower door handle, located on the right side of the companionway;

 3) the crewman may raise the lower door once he is inside the plane by use of the companionway D-Ring, a mechanism whose sole function is to raise the lower door to a position where it rests on its latches. Once there, the crewman then locks that door by use of the lower door handle located in the companionway (about four inches ...


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