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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.

Is that international charter flight safe?

Whether you book your international charter flight through a cruise line, tour operator or a company in a foreign country, you may not want to take the airline's safety for granted. According to The New York Times, not every country provides the same aviation oversight that the United States does.

You don't have to trust blindly, though. Here are some tips for checking out an air charter company.

Woman killed in commercial airplane crash

When people board a flight, they should feel rest assured that the airplane they are entering has been fully maintained and is safe for travel. However, mistakes made in the upkeep of the plane or system failure could lead to a catastrophic event. Ultimately, the airline responsible for taking care of the airplanes is to blame for any accidents, injuries or deaths that are caused as a result of poor equipment maintenance.

A woman as killed in April when she was partially ejected from a shattered window of a 737 plane. Eight other passengers aboard the plane, as well as the deceased woman's husband have submitted a claim suing Southwest Airlines for physiological and emotional injuries they received due to the fatal and tragic airplane accident.

Aircraft design defects - a case and a definition

In the Fall of 2017, New Yorkers interested in aviation safety may have been paying attention to the ruling in a case of aircraft design defects. The U.S. Department of Justice reported that the President of Aerospec, Inc. received a sentence of two years' imprisonment and three years supervised release. 

The case is important because it brings to light the issue of defective airplane parts and its impact on the aviation industry. While this case revolved around components sold to the military, defective parts are dangerous for all the world's aircraft.

Aircraft design defects - the standards that matter most

If the skies could speak, they might reveal a galaxy of secrets from aviation history. From the earliest design flaws in the Christmas Bullet - an early 1900's plane intended to have flapping wings - to the malfunctions engineers say caused recent engine failures in Boeing aircraft, structural defects create serious problems for the airline industry. Fatal plane crashes in New York and around the world leave family members to question who has the final say when design defects have catastrophic outcomes.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has similar questions, not only when an aircraft goes down but also anytime members and their colleagues take one up. In 2016, the AOPA made headlines when asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case involving aviation products liability.

Are small planes actually safe?

If you are a typical New Yorker, commercial airline flights are a normal part of your life. If you work for one of the many companies that own a private jet or helicopter, you likely are well acquainted with corporate business flights, too. You may even have friends who own their own private plane or own one yourself. Has it ever occurred to you to wonder if these small planes are safe?

Live Science reports that while small planes are not inherently dangerous, when it comes to the possibility of having an accident, taking a flight in one is about 19 times more dangerous than taking a ride in your car. While over 30,000 people die in traffic accidents each year as compared to 400 who die in small plane accidents, these raw numbers mean virtually nothing. That is because the National Transportation Safety Board, the agency tasked with keeping statistics on both vehicle and plane accidents, measures vehicle accidents by the number of miles traveled, whereas it measures plane accidents by every 100,000 hours flown. Thus the raw fatality numbers are an apples versus oranges comparison.

Do you need to worry about objects falling from planes?

In the television show "Dead Like Me," the main character was killed by a toilet seat falling from a commercial airplane. This is certainly a frightening prospect, and you might worry if something similar could happen to you. After all, countless planes fly over New York every day. It might seem only a matter of time until something falls from a plane and lands on someone.

Claims by Air & Space Smithsonian might not do much to reassure you. According to reports, debris falls from aircraft regularly. This occurs so often, in fact, that those in aviation call the phenomenon TFOA, or "things falling off aircraft." One cited example included a fatal airplane accident in Paris, France, in 2000. Reportedly, an engine cowl wear strip detached itself from the plane as it took off, causing the plane to crash shortly afterward.

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