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Federal Jury Awards World Airways Pilot and Co-pilot More than $1 Million

April 6, 1989

BOSTON (AP) _ A federal jury Wednesday awarded more than $1 million to the pilot and co- pilot of a World Airways jet that crashed on landing at Logan International Airport in January 1982 and slid into Boston Harbor.

A separate federal jury earlier this year determined that the crash was caused by icy runway conditions at Logan and that the Federal Aviation Association and Massachusetts Port Authority had failed to apprise Langley of the situation. Yet another federal jury set the value of the lost jet at more than $30 million.

Walter Walker, an attorney representing pilot Peter Langley and co-pilot Donald Hertzfeldt, said the two had suffered ″emotional distress, impairment of earning capacity, lost wages and minor physical injuries.″

Langley, 64, said the decision was ″justification for one’s position over the last seven years and the trauma and all the heartache that’s been going on. In retrospect, I’d rather that it hadn’t happened. Now that it has, I think it is a fair judgment.″

″I think the last 30 seconds on the runway are something that I’m going to live with the rest of my life,″ he said. ″For a pilot to feel he’s not fully in control of his airplane is a most frightening experience.″

When the jet touched down, Langley said he mentioned the tarmac seemed slippery. ″Then a few seconds later I said ‘No braking’ to the crew. And again I said ’No braking,‴ Langley said.

As the end of the runway approached Langley said he saw the landing lights and pilings of a light tower that jutted out into Boston Harbor. He said he was ″literally standing on the brakes, with the engines in full reverse thrust″ and barely negotiated around the pilings.

When the plane stopped moving, the front end was in Boston Harbor and the nose, which had broken off, was partially submerged. The crew had to swim to reach the shore, and two people sitting in the front seats were never found and presumably drowned.

The jury awarded Langley $1,021,840 and Hertzfeldt $444,700, Walker said.

Langley said he lost confidence and interest in flying after the crash and gave up his plans to become a flight engineer after he reached the mandatory retirement age of 60.

Hertzfeldt is a Pan Am shuttle co-pilot, which Walker said was the only job he could get with a crash on his record.

Massport spokeswoman Teresa McAlpine said the authority disagreed that the evidence supported the verdict and planned to ask U.S. District Judge Robert A. Keeton to set it aside next week. By law, the pilot and co-pilot cannot seek damages against the federal government.

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