What is Blackhawk International Airways?
The company was responsible for aircraft charters and flew between Florida and the Bahamas. The Blackhawk International Airways Corporation is no longer active, and the company has faced several lawsuits and fines in the past.
The company has received fines from the FAA for violations that ranged from maintenance problems to pilots testing positive for drugs. The company is most known for its role in the singer Aaliyah’s death.
The Death of Aaliyah
On August 25, 2001, Aaliyah and members of her record company boarded a Cessna 402B at the Marsh Harbour located in the Abaco Islands. Aaliyah and the record company members had finished recording a music video for “Rock the Boat” early, and they wanted to fly back to Opa-locka Airport in Florida as soon as possible.
The Cessna 402B aircraft used during the day of Aaliyah’s death was smaller than the Cessna 404 originally scheduled for the next day, but the singer and record company members boarded the Cessna 402B anyway. The plane’s takeoff weight was not supposed to exceed 700 pounds, but a large amount of luggage, equipment, and even an extra passenger were loaded on the aircraft.
The plane took off but crashed only 200 feet away from the runway. Aaliyah was killed in the accident along with the pilot and seven others. The pilot was Luis Morales III, and those associated with Aaliyah were Eric Forman, Scott Gallin, Anthony Dodd, Christopher Maldonado, Douglas Kratz, Keith Wallace, and Gina Smith.
The Autopsy and Investigation into Blackhawk International Airways
The autopsy was performed in The Bahamas, and the coroner’s office found that Aaliyah died of a blow to the head, severe burns, and shock. Aaliyah’s injuries were so severe that she had a small chance of recovery even if she would have survived the initial plane crash. The autopsy on the pilot found trace amounts of cocaine and alcohol in his blood.
The report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the plane went nose down, crashed into a marsh on the south end of runway 27, and burst into flames. The report by the NTSB also concluded that the plane’s gross weight was far over its maximum limit and the center of gravity was past the rear limit of the plane.
The FAA found that Morales was not even approved to fly the plane. He falsely obtained his FAA license by logging hours that were never flown in order to become employed by Blackhawk International Airways.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit against Blackhawk International Airways
Because Morales was not permitted to fly the aircraft, Aaliyah’s parents brought a wrongful death lawsuit against the airline. Barry & Sons, Inc—a company that helped with the production of Aaliyah’s records and music videos—brought a lawsuit against the company that produced the music video in The Bahamas for failing to provide proper transportation. Barry & Sons lawsuit was dropped because they were not permitted to recover damages for a wrongful death in the state of New York. Aaliyah’s parents settled with the airline in court.