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U.S. Aviation Accidents Law Blog

Eurocopter AS350 involved in deadly East River crash

Most New York residents are familiar with helicopters, but few recognize the potential dangers involved. Fortunately, there are sections of aviation accident law that provide a way of dealing with the unexpected and often disastrous results of a failed helicopter tour. 

City residents along the East River witnessed the third helicopter crash in 11 years for chartered flight operator Liberty Helicopters. The aircraft in question was a Eurocopter AS350. Five passengers were killed, leaving the pilot as the sole survivor. This not the first time Liberty Helicopters has been involved in a fatal helicopter accident. It is also not the first time a Eurocopter AS350 was the faulty aircraft. 

Drones are popular, but are they safe?

In 2017, the Consumers Union wrote an open letter online to address the House Transportation Committee's aviation panel. The CU voiced concern over the increasing use of drones and the potential for injuries because of design defects. Whether you live in New York or in other parts of the U.S., you have likely noticed the growing popularity of drones among aviation fans. 

Since their use has become so trendy, the CU wanted to bring awareness to the risk for drones stalling in mid-air and dropping out of the sky. Any number of injuries could come from an incident like that, depending on where the drone fell. If it happened to land in an open field, well, there would not be much harm in that. If it crashed into a school playground with 100 elementary students - including your youngest - running around at recess, that would be another story altogether. The CU's concerns about risks are valid. 

How safe are helicopter tours?

If you are planning a dream vacation to New York City, the Grand Canyon, Hawaii or any of the other stunning destinations the USA has to offer, then helicopter tours might be a good choice for you. Helicopters are safer than you might expect, and they offer a unique set of opportunities for exploration. However, this mode of travel is not without risk, especially if you are visiting from abroad. 

In the National Transportation Safety Board data for helicopter crashes-- starting in 2006 and current to 2015-- you may find evidence of a relatively low frequency of fatal helicopter accidents. In fact, the rate hovered at around one fatal accident per 200,000 flight hours. These numbers indicate a safe mode of travel if you were to compare them to comparable options, such as fixed-wing charter planes. 

Errors commonly made by pilots

If you live in New York and frequently travel by plane, you may have concerns about just how safe it is to travel via aircraft, given that small and commercial plane crashes frequently make headlines. Given how far aircraft construction has come in recent years, a rising number of plane crashes have ties to pilot errors, rather than mechanical failures, so it is important that you, as a passenger, learn to recognize common pilot mistakes. At Kreindler & Kreindler LLP, we understand that catastrophic injuries and even death can result when pilots make errors, and we have helped many aircraft passengers and their families seek recourse after crashes.

Per, many pilot mistakes arise from similar circumstances, and many pilot errors are also easily avoidable. For example, one of the most common pilot errors that can endanger you and other passengers involves a pilot not getting a complete weather report before taking to the skies. Additionally, some pilots make errors because they fail to conduct a thorough preflight check. Typically, pilots reserve at least 10 minutes before taking off to inspect the aircraft, ensure adequate fuel and so on, but some pilots skip this critical step, exposing themselves and their aircrafts to potential dangers.

What the FAA has done to make sure air travel stays safe

New York residents may remember when a small plane crashed on the way to Florida in September of 2014. Last November, the U.S. News & World Report covered the release of the National Transportation and Safety Board's accident report for that crash. The report revealed the cause to be a design flaw that allowed an overheat switch to activate and cut off the air supply to the plane's cabin. Two occupants died in the accident.

Just before the NTSB's statement broke headlines, the Federal Aviation Authority had released a report of its own. Acknowledging the U.S. has the "largest and most diverse General Aviation community in the world," the FAA announced results of a drive to "put the right technologies, regulations, and education initiatives in place to improve safety."

How is an airplane's lifespan determined?

As with any heavy machinery, an airplane is not designed to last forever, but how do New York airlines decide when a plane is no longer safe to fly? The lifespan of an airplane, according to Prime Industries Inc., is not a cut and dry thing. It requires many factors to be considered before an airplane is deemed too old to fly.

The main point used in determining the safety of a plane is called pressurization cycles. This is basically the flight hours of the plane. In other words, the plane's age is not as important as how many times it has flown. One cycle includes taking off, flying and landing. It does not matter if the plane flew a short or long flight. The focus is on the number of cycles. 

What are some tips for flying in the winter?

Weather always plays a role in the safety of a flight, but when it comes to small planes, it can be even more important. If you are a pilot of a small plane in New York, you may shy away from flying in the winter. However, you do not have to do that. You can fly safely as long as you are aware of some important points.

Plane and Pilot reports that flying in winter can actually be much better than flying in the warmer months. You do not have the lifting that comes from storms, like tornadoes. However, you do have to watch for ice, both on your plane and on the runway. 

Is air travel really as safe as they say?

You may take flights out of New York regularly or be someone who has never flown before. Regardless of your status, one thing you probably have wondered is about how safe flying is. Everyone has concerns, which is completely understandable seeing how air accidents get a lot of attention. However, what you may not realize is air travel is incredibly safe and the numbers back it up. 

According to USA Today, commercial air travel saw its best year ever when it came to safety in 2017. Fatal flights were limited to two regional airlines that were both small in size. The crashes resulted in 13 deaths. In 2016, there were 71 deaths and six fatal accidents, so there was a great improvement. In total, there were 111 accidents in 2017. 

Are international flights as safe as domestic ones?

When you need to fly internationally, you may wonder if you will be safe. It isn't uncommon for New York residents to question the safety of air travel and to be a little concerned when taking a foreign flight. In fact, USA Today reports that with many new stories on foreign flights crashing, being skeptical is reasonable. 

The reality is that using airlines in European countries and other developed nations is usually just as safe as US airlines. Air travel generally is very safe and crashes are rare. However, if you are flying out of a developing nation, then you might have a need to be concerned.

What is the FAA's role in aircraft safety?

There are many companies, agencies, businesses and entities involved in ensuring the planes you fly in out of New York are safe. One such agency is the Federal Aviation Administration. You have probably heard of the FAA before, but do you know what it does to keep your flights safe?

The main purpose of the FAA is aircraft safety. It manages regulations and oversees the industry to ensure planes and other aircraft are manufactured, maintained and used safely. It does research and introduces new technology to help increase the safety of the planes you fly in. 

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