Jet Repair Company Sentenced for Role in Plane Crash

Aug. 21, 2000
SabreTech was sentenced for violating federal laws governing the\r\ntransportation of hazardous materials and employee training for\r\nhandling hazardous materials.

SabreTech, an airplane maintenance and repair company, formerly operating in Miami, Fla., was sentenced last week in U.S. District Court in Miami for violating federal laws governing the transportation of hazardous materials and employee training for handling hazardous materials.

The violations contributed to the May 11, 1996 ValuJet DC-9 crash in the Florida Everglades that killed all 110 people on board.

SabreTech is the nation''s first aviation company to be convicted of criminal charges related to a commercial jet crash.

The company was fined $2 million and ordered to pay $9,060,400 in restitution to the families of the victims.

SabreTech was found criminally responsible for causing approximately 144 out-of-date oxygen generators, which had been removed from another ValuJet plane, to be loaded in the sealed forward cargo hold of ValuJet Flight 592 without the required safety caps.

The company falsely signed documentation stating that the caps were on the canisters.

Fire suppressant systems had not been mandated for sealed aircraft cargo holds because it was anticipated that any fire would extinguish itself once it exhausted the oxygen in a sealed hold.

The canisters, though, generated their own oxygen to continually fuel a fire.

Testimony during the three-week jury trial last December showed that the generators were jostled during take off, activated, and ignited an intense fire that breached the hold and rendered the plane''s control cables inoperative.

SabreTech still faces Florida hazardous waste, manslaughter and murder charges in state court on Oct. 23.

The case was investigated by EPA''s Criminal Investigation Division, the FBI, the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation and the Miami Dade Police Department.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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