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Pilot hurt in jet breakup sues Boeing

  • Story Highlights
  • Maj. Stephen Stilwell was injured when his F-15 disintegrated mid-flight last year
  • Lawsuit: Boeing knew or should have known the plane was defective, dangerous
  • Complaint: Stilwell suffered serious, debilitating injuries and disfigurement
  • Air Force investigators found cracks in aircraft parts that failed
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From Mike Mount
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An Air Force pilot injured when his F-15C fighter broke apart over Missouri in November is suing Boeing, the plane manufacturer, over the accident, according to the pilot's lawyer.


The Air Force grounded the F-15 fleet last year after tests found problems with key strips of metal.

In the complaint, Maj. Stephen Stilwell details how the F-15 began "shaking violently from side to side" at 18,000 feet during a routine training mission.

He says he suffered serious and debilitating injuries to his shoulder and arm when he ejected from the plane as it disintegrated around him, with parts of the plane hitting his body.

"Stilwell has suffered disfigurement and an inability to work and perform useful and productive work activities including service as a military and civilian aircraft pilot," according to the lawsuit.

Stilwell alleges Boeing knew or should have known the F-15 was defective, dangerous and could result in a catastrophic in-flight breakup as manufactured.

The complaint was filed Friday in the U.S. District Court's Eastern District of Missouri, said Morry Cole, Stilwell's lawyer.

Boeing has not yet been served with a copy of the lawsuit and has not returned calls from CNN.

Air Force investigators said they found cracks in aircraft parts that failed and were installed without proper safety specifications.

The entire fleet of F-15s was grounded while the planes were inspected.

Most returned to the skies, though several remained grounded with similar cracks discovered.

The planes were built by defense contractor McDonnell Douglas, which was later bought by Boeing Corp.

Cole said he would not answer any specifics about the lawsuit until they were brought up in court. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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