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U.S. Aviation Accidents Law Blog

Engine failure incident at least the 4th of its kind since 2016

When you board a plane in New York or another part of the nation, you probably feel confident that the aircraft has undergone careful checks for safety, and that there are not defective aircraft components that could potentially threaten your life. Regrettably, however, this is not always the case, as evidenced by a string of dangerous incidents involving jet engine failures that released debris into the plane or air. At Kreindler & Kreindler LLP, we work to hold airlines accountable when defective aircraft components threaten lives, and we have helped many clients hurt in related incidents pursue appropriate recourse.

Per Bloomberg, the latest in a series of related events involving engine failures that allow debris to escape grounded a plane bound for Orlando, Florida, after the engine of the aircraft failed at more than 18,000 feet. This was the fourth reported incident of its kind since August of 2016, with one well-documented incident involving a woman who was partially sucked out of a plane window after an engine failure caused the window to break.

Mechanical failure and commercial flights

When people board a commercial flight, they assume that they plane is mechanically sound and ready for flight. Mechanical plane failure, however, is one of the main factors leading to deadly plane accidents in the United States and throughout the world alongside weather and human error. Failure to operate or improper design of critical airplane parts, such as the fuel tanks, navigation system, landing gear, spoilers, rudder, stabilizers, wing components and engine controls, can be catastrophic. Boeing released a study reporting that approximately 20 percent of all commercial air accidents are attributed to mechanical failure.

Airline companies are responsible for ensuring proper maintenance on airplanes before they are released to carry passengers on flights. While some minor repairs may be performed locally, some companies opt to take other major maintenance work out of the county to decrease expenses. Although the Federal Aviation Administration is required to visit these overseas maintenance facilities and perform regular inspections, a lack of funds and manpower may limit the number of facilities visited by the administration.

Plane crashes in Mexico after severe-weather takeoff

When residents of New York board planes bound for national or international destinations, they typically rely on the plane's pilot and crew to determine whether conditions are appropriate for flying. When pilots second-guess their decisions to fly once the aircraft has already taken off, however, getting back on the ground is not always so easy, and the passengers and crew aboard a recent flight leaving Durango, Mexico, learned this the hard way.

Per the New York Times, 103 people were aboard the jetliner that crashed shortly after taking off from a Mexican airport, among them 99 passengers and four members of the flight crew. While, miraculously, no one lost their lives, at least 80 people who were aboard the aircraft sought medical treatment in the crash's aftermath, including the flight captain, who was in critical condition.

A look at automatic pilots

In this day and age of advanced technology, automated pilot technology is on the brink of taking over the aviation industry. It isn't uncommon for pilots to switch over to autopilot for a period of time while the plane cruises at a steady altitude during a flight. Now experts are considering removing the human pilot from the picture and using autopilot to fly the plane. Although planes that are piloted using artificial intelligence may eliminate human error, it may also increase the need for litigating cases that involve failed software design, development, manufacture, implementation and utilization.

Airplanes have been piloted by robots and automatic software as far back as 1917. Since then, the development of software and autopilot technology has increased and discussion of developing a mainstream, pilotless commercial aircraft has taken place. In order to accomplish this, however, engineers must look at all factors in the flying process, including airplane design, technology, meteorology and human factors required to fly the plane. Artificial intelligence would allow the plane to take off without the use of vehicles, control altitude and engine performance, as well as land using an algorithm that adjusts to wind, rain and other weather conditions.

What causes small planes to crash?

Small plane crashes frequently make headlines across New York, and if you have ever been a passenger in one, you may have had your reservations before taking to the skies. The majority of modern plane crashes involve small, private aircraft, as opposed to larger commercial planes, and when small planes crash, the repercussions are often catastrophic.

According to the Washington Post, riding in a small, private plane poses more substantial risks than travelling in a large commercial aircraft, and there are several reasons this is the case. Part of the risk comes from the fact that many smaller planes take off and land at small airports, many of which may not have paved runways and other features designed to enhance passenger and pilot safety. Part of the increased risk also likely stems from the fact that many of the people who pilot small, private planes are hobbyists and amateur pilots, rather than professional ones, meaning pilots manning these aircraft have less experience and are therefore less likely to know what to do in an emergency.

Laptops in cargo areas pose fire risk for plane passengers

If you are among the many New Yorkers who regularly fly with a laptop computer, know that it can pose a serious safety risk if you store it in your checked luggage, as opposed to taking in onboard as a carry-on. Alarming new research suggests that laptops stored in carry-on luggage can ignite, if stored near aerosol cans or certain types of cosmetics. At Kreindler & Kreindler LLP, we understand that this and other airplane safety risks pose serious, substantial threats to passengers, and we have helped many clients who suffered injury due to airplane-related accidents pursue appropriate recourse.

Per the New York Post, the new research about the fire risks laptop batteries pose contradicts a previous prevailing belief that the flame-retardant gas stored in airline cargo areas would be than enough to eliminate a fire caused by a lithium battery. While common in laptops, lithium batteries are also present in many gaming devices, cellphones and the like.

Crash investigation finds aircraft product defects

Although their role may seem far removed from New York's air traffic controls, flight patterns and the day-to-day of planes in mid-air, manufacturers of the parts that make up those planes carry a heavy responsibility. The safety of pilots and passengers alike fall into their hands.

Whether you board a flight for a destination an hour from your home or 20 hours to the other side of the planet, you want to know those producers take their responsibility seriously, creating aircraft free from product defects. Disasters result when mistakes occur.

Pilot in hospital after Cessna accident

Small plane and commercial airplane accidents occur in New York and across the United States. Whether due to a flaw in the plane design, a systems failure or a pilot's error, these accidents have the potential to cause significant destruction and loss of life. In some cases, a pilot's split-second decision in the face of a catastrophe can save lives.

A 65-year-old pilot of a single engine Cessna 182 is in the hospital recovering from injuries, including a broken back, that he obtained from a serious plane accident. Right before the plane crashed and flipped upside down, the pilot made a sudden decision that allowed the plane to land in a way that minimized impact. The plane contained two teen cadet passengers who are with the Civil Air Patrol, a division of the U.S. Air Force. The 14 and 15-year-old passengers were taken to the hospital with minor injuries and were later released.

Manufacturing vs. design defects: What is the difference?

If you suffer injuries in a New York plane crash, or your loved one dies in a crash, in all likelihood you will want to sue the manufacturer of the plane and/or of its component parts. When you do so, strict liability law applies. What this means is that you need not prove that the manufacturer(s) acted negligently in order to prevail in your lawsuit.

As FindLaw explains, what you must prove instead is that a defect existed in the plane's design and/or in its manufacturing process. But what is the difference between these two types of defects?

Can fatigue in materials cause aircraft failure?

Airplanes are responsible for safely transporting you and your family through the air and to your destination.  As planes travel over time, however, different stresses and pressure can cause the composite structures to crack or fatigue. In fact, fatigue cracks are one of the most common causes of structural failure in airplanes. If an airplane is not properly inspected and maintained, structure fatigue can cause serious problems, including accidents, injuries and even death of innocent passengers.

According to the Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at the University of Texas at Austin, fatigue can first be noticed when a crack is detected. These stress cracks can be caused by defects in the material or design flaws, and if not caught in the early stages, they may grow to become a serious problem. The fatigue cracks will continue to worsen until suddenly, a rupture or system failure will occur. This occurs when the crack gets too big for the material to withhold the stress and pressure.

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