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U.S. Aviation Accidents Law Blog

Work with experienced attorney to recover damages from airline security breaches

In our last post, we began looking at new U.S. security rules prohibiting airline passengers from bringing large electronic devices in their carry-on baggage. As we noted, the rules are largely aimed at addressing the threat of terrorism. Airlines, of course, have the duty to put into place security measures which comply with all federal safety regulations and which are effective at addressing threats.

Safety regulations are aimed not only at protecting passengers from terrorism, but from other criminal activity as well. An airline’s failure to abide by established safety regulations not only puts passengers at risk, but also opens up the airline to liability for harm to passengers. 

New electronics security rules to impact flights to, from certain foreign nations

Security is an important issue in the airline industry, and has been a particularly important issue since 2001. Airlines have implemented a number of changes to tighten up security in airports and on flights. The changes have proved to be an inconvenience that most people are largely willing to put up with in order to fly. Not that there is much of a choice, of course.

One of the areas where security will soon change is with electronics use. Recently, The Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration announced new rules which prohibit passengers from brining large electronic devices in their cabin baggage. Such devices will have to be kept in checked baggage once the rules go into effect. 

What is the Montreal Convention and what rights does it confer on passengers? P.2

In our last post, we began looking at the Montreal Convention, which is one of the laws governing liability for international airline accidents. As we noted, the law imposes liability for damages resulting from the death or injury of passengers, compensating the latter with special drawing rights. Airlines are not able to limit liability if the damages do not exceed that amount.  

Airlines are, however, not liable for damages exceeding 100 000 Special Drawing Rights per passenger to the extent that the airline can show that the damage was not caused by the negligence or wrongful acts or omissions of the airline or its employees.  

What is the Montreal Convention and what rights does it confer on passengers?

One of the laws governing international air carrier liability is the Montreal Convention, an international treaty struck in 1999 which applies to all international carriage of baggage or cargo for compensation. The treaty applies both to businesses, governments and to “legally constituted public bodies.”  

The Montreal Convention makes aircraft carriers liable for damages and loss of checked baggage, as well as death or bodily injury to passengers, but there are conditions for liability to apply, as well as limitations on liability. 

Liability for hot air balloon accidents not always as clear as with ordinary aircraft, P.2

Previously, we began looking at the topic of liability for hot air balloon accidents. One interesting point our readers may not be aware of is that hot air balloons are technically considered to be “aircraft” and are regulated accordingly. Operation of hot air balloons is regulated by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which has established standards concerning airworthiness, maintenance, rebuilding, alteration, operating and flight rules.

As we noted last time, hot air balloon accidents are relatively rare compared to accidents involving other aircraft, and the lack of case law on the matter is part of the reason clearly establishing liability can be difficult.

Liability for hot air balloon accidents not always as clear as with ordinary aircraft, P.1

Readers are accustomed to hearing, from time to time, about small plane and large airline accidents in the news, particularly those involving large crowds of people. Such accidents, particularly small plane accidents, occur with relative frequency. Hot air balloon accidents, on the other hand, do not occur as often.

Hot air balloon use is certainly not nearly as widespread as airplane use, and accidents are relatively rare, but they do occur from time to time. Last fall, for instance, a hot air balloon carrying 16 people crashed in Texas after it caught on fire. Tragically, all the passengers on the flight died. Initial reports of the accident said that the balloon is believed to have crashed into power lines. 

Feds investigating latest Harrison Ford aviation mishap

Some of our readers may be familiar with actor Harrison Ford’s passion of flying. The 74-year-old Ford, who apparently became a certified pilot later in life, has built up a large collection of modern and vintage aircraft in the relatively short number of years he has been flying. 

Harrison Ford has been involved in a handful of crashes over the years, and the frequency of the mishaps appears to be increasing. The most recent incident occurred last week, when Ford landed on a taxiway running parallel to a runway at a small southern California airport. Prior to landing, Ford apparently had a close call with a Boeing 737 with 116 people aboard. 

Will Zero Defect trend in aircraft manufacturing make defects obsolete?

One of the growing trends right now in manufacturing is the so-called Zero Defect movement. In addition to automotive manufacturing, another area where the trend is growing is aircraft manufacturing. The idea, boiled down, is that high quality control needs to be provided on the front end of manufacturing rather than left for post-manufacturing repair and maintenance.

Zero Defect manufacturing represents, according to proponents, a move away from the World War II approach of tolerating certain defects in order to increase production and get planes into service more quickly. One of the factors influencing this trend is the fact that there is presently a great demand for aircraft and the need to increase production efficiencies, including addressing defects in manufacturing. 

Compliance with pilot medical requirements can be issue in aircraft crash cases, P.2

Previously, we began discussing the topic of medical certification of pilots, as required by the Federal Aviation Administration, the federal agency responsible for regulating civil aviation. As we noted, medical certification can be barred on the basis of certain conditions, though the primary objective is to ensure pilots are healthy enough to safely operate an aircraft.

The medical standards a pilot must meet to be certified differ depending on the type of license at issue. The standards are, in several respects, stricter for first-class airline transport pilots and second-class commercial pilots than they are for third-class private pilots. Distant and immediate vision standards are less strict for private pilots, and there is currently no routine requirement for electrocardiograms. 

Compliance with pilot medical requirements can be issue in aircraft crash cases, P.1

A New York man who died in a plane crash in Vermont back in December was unfit to fly, according to public records. The crash, according to a preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report, found that the plane engine experienced some sort of failure before the plane went down. The pilot had only been about 150 feet in the air at the time of the engine failure.

Investigations did not show that medical problems, or that any error on his part, caused the crash. The pilot was, however, in violation of a federal law requiring him to renew his medical certification at the time of the crash. The certificate ensures, among other things, that pilots have adequate hearing and vision to fly so that they don’t put themselves or others at risk. Fortunately, nobody else was on the plan at the time of the crash.

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