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U.S. Aviation Accidents Law Blog

Latest international crash reveals problem with Boeing planes

Travelers planning commercial flights to or from New York or anywhere else in the country should check to see if the plane they will be flying on is a Boeing 737 Max 8. If so, they may wish to take a different flight.

As reported by the New York Post, the latest international aviation accident, which occurred on October 29, 2018, involved the crash of an Indonesian airliner owned and operated by Lion Air. The plane was a Boeing 737 Max 8 that crashed into the Java Sea after only an 11-minute flight. All 189 people onboard, including 181 passengers and a crew of eight, died in the crash.

Lack of training may be to blame for aircraft accident

When people board a commercial flight, they assume the pilots flying the aircraft fully understand how to operate all of the controls. Safety devices designed to minimize the risk of aircraft failure are continually being updated. What happens, however, when pilots are not properly educated on how these safety devices work and what to do in a case where they malfunction?

Sadly, the crew and passengers aboard Indonesia's Lion Air Flight 610 found out when their plane went down into the Java Sea on October 29. The aircraft was recognized as being one of the newest and safest planes. A new automated anti-stall feature was implemented into the aircraft, but pilots were not told how the system worked or what action to take if it should fail during flight. An AOA sensor attached to the safety system was said to be generating erroneous input, which may have caused the accident. Aircraft maintenance technicians were looking into the problem and had just recently replace the AOA sensor. In fact, the maintenance worker was onboard the flight at the time the accident occurred. Regardless of the replacement, the system failed. The pilots were unsure of how to handle the issue and all lives on the craft were lost.

#MeToo movement also includes experiences on commercial flights

Many travelers from New York and elsewhere understand that they might have an unpleasant experience when they fly, which could range from lost luggage to unexpected delays. However, they may not anticipate the possibility of being assaulted on an airplane. Whether a person is a passenger or an airline employee, nobody should experience sexual assault or harassment on a flight.

Sexual harassment on a plane includes lewd comments, unwanted touching, inappropriate propositions and forceful physical attacks of a sexual nature. In a survey by the Association of Flight Attendants, nearly one out of every five flight attendants said they witnessed a passenger's sexual assault or were harassed or assaulted themselves. A report from NPR states that incidents of sexual harassment and assault on airplanes are increasing, and authorities believe incidents may be greatly underreported. Inadequate training and a lack of knowledge on how to handle incidents in the air and report them to the proper authorities may be partially to blame.

The first crash for a new Boeing model

As people in New York sat in rush-hour traffic, nearly 200 people were involved in a fatal incident on the other side of the world: the crash of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 as it began its morning flight from Jakarta. The brand-new plane went down off the coast of the Indonesian island of Java, presumedly killing everyone on board.

Early analyses do not indicate any fault in the experience or performance of the Lion Air flight crew. Similarly, the weather over Java does not seem to have been a contributing factor to the failure of flight JT 610.

Acting quickly with wrongful death claims

Unlike murder, which has no time limit in New York, complainants have only a few years after an incident to file wrongful death charges. This discrepancy is due in part to the differing legal consequences -- and burden of proof -- between the criminal and civil convictions. 

For some tragedies, the reduced time period affords ample opportunity for claimants to come to terms with the event and file civil charges. For others, such as plane crashes, the uncertainty of extended investigations and the powerful organizations involved may tempt survivors to wait.

What is air rage and how can it endanger others?

You and other New Yorkers are likely familiar with the term "road rage," as it is common to encounter impatient and angry drivers who purposefully endanger others on the road. A lesser-known term can also pose dangers for people in the air, and it may happen more often than you think.

You may have read recent articles about unruly passengers causing disturbances on their flights and either being kicked off the plane before takeoff or arrested after landing. While these situations make good headlines and seem rare, there may be thousands of such incidents in airplanes each year across the country, points out ABC News. In fact, some authorities from the Association of Flight Attendants and other agencies think the numbers are underreported.

Are helicopter harnesses more deadly than helpful?

As a New York resident or tourist, you may have taken an exciting "doors off" scenic helicopter flight in the past or are contemplating taking one in the future. Before you do so, however, you should be aware that this may be a deadly decision.

As reported by CNN, a Liberty Helicopters charter flight crashed in New York's East River last March, killing all five of its passengers who were on a private photo shoot. They died by drowning when the safety harnesses they were wearing failed to release. It was the deadliest "doors off" crash in history and the third crash for Liberty Helicopters in the last 11 years.

Who decides if PEDs can be used during a flight?

If you are an experienced air traveler, then you know to expect the customary notice against the use of portable electronic devices every time you board a plane in Manhattan. Ask people why this notice is given, and you may hear answers ranging from it is simply to protect airlines from property damage claims to PEDs can cause a plane's electrical system to fail. In reality, the reason the use of PEDs during a flight is discouraged is that there is concern that they may interfere with an aircraft's navigation or communication systems. 

Up until recently, the Code of Federal Regulations only allowed the following PEDs to be used during a flight: 

  • Voice recorders 
  • Hearing aids
  • Electric shavers 
  • Pacemakers

When could you sue an aviation manufacturer?

Many New York pilots do not have the funds or insurance necessary to cover a significant loss. The same is true even of some small transportation or tourism companies. If you were injured, or if you experienced the loss of a loved one, the other party's financial shortcoming could be ruinous to your quality of life going forward from the incident. 

However, it is not always fair to place all of the blame on a pilot. You might want to consider the aircraft manufacturer's responsibility in the event that caused your loss. Defective products might cause crashes, contribute to injuries or even lead to death. The companies that make these products could be liable for part of your damages. 

How do you register your aircraft in New York?

Whether you are using it for business or for pleasure, owning an aircraft can be extremely rewarding. It is imperative, however, that you register your aircraft with the Federal Aviation Administration to avoid any registration violations. In order to be eligible to register your aircraft, the plane may not be currently registered in any other country. The owner of the aircraft must also be a citizen of the United States or a citizen of another country that is legally admitted to live permanently in the U.S. 

Once you have determined if you are eligible to register, you must submit certain documents to the Aircraft Registration Branch, including: evidence that you are the owner of the aircraft, registration fee and the aircraft registration application. If the registrant is a company or corporation, evidence that the organization exists, as well as a list of managers must also be submitted. You can check to see if the department received your application by using the Document Index search on the aircraft inquiry page.

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