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.
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.
Planes fly all over the world every single day. In some ways, our world has become smaller because of the ease with which we can traverse the planet. But it is still a very big world, and it can feel especially large when a loved one has been injured or killed in a commercial plane crash outside the United States.
For average Americans, helicopter travel isn't nearly as common as airplane travel. But for those lucky enough to experience it, the thrill is unforgettable. If you don't have the money to afford your own (and most of us don't), you may be able to enjoy a ride while on a sightseeing tour or in a chartered helicopter flight.
On January 2, 2017 a family from Pittsburgh, consisting of a husband, wife, and three daughters were on a sightseeing trip to the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. They were on board a Cessna Caravan II operated by Air Excel, a local carrier, which crashed upon takeoff from an airfield at Dar Es Salaam.
The pilot and his wife were seriously injured when the single-engine aircraft they were in crashed on takeoff from Capitol Airport in Brookfield, Wisconsin on January 4, 2017. Remarkably, their baby, who was in an infant seat, survived unscathed. The aircraft ran off the runway and crashed into a parked SUV with a trailer attached. No one was in the SUV.
A single-engine Cessna 210 was reported missing on January 2, 2017 en route between Scottsdale, Arizona and Telluride, Colorado. The next day, searchers found debris of the plane north of the town of Payton in rugged country called the Mogollon Rim. Along with the debris, the search party found the bodies of the aircraft’s occupants, a prominent lawyer, his wife, and two daughters from a previous marriage. The four had been on a trip they always take around the holidays.
Air travel, as the cliché goes, is one of the safest forms of travel. But as anyone who has watched the news knows, accidents still happen, often with catastrophic results.
On January 3, 2017, a twin-engine aircraft went down between two railroad tracks and the Clark Ford River in the town of Paradise in Sanders County, Montana. The two occupants of the plane, a pilot and a passenger, were able to walk away from the crash but were taken to a local hospital for undisclosed injuries. The cabin and the wings of the plane were intact, but the aircraft is reported to be a total loss.
January 3, 2017, a small plane went down near Spruce Creek, Florida. The pilot, the chief executive officer of a technology company, and a female companion were killed in the crash. The two had been taking a 21 day trip around the world in what was described as an “experimental plane,” an Epic LT single engine craft. One witness reported that the aircraft entered a fog and then emerged in an “inverted flat spin,” meaning that it went into the ground like a falling leaf. The crash happened after the plane had turned around having missed its first approach.
A small plane took off from a suburban Kansas City airport and, after the 79 year-old pilot had reported trouble with the aircraft, crash-landed in a nearby parking lot. The pilot survived the accident and was taken to the hospital with what were described as non-life-threatening injuries. No other injuries or damage on the ground were reported. The exact cause of the accident is under investigation.
Most owners of small private planes buy insurance for the same reason that operators of automobiles acquire coverage. They realize that accidents happen and they do not want to be bankrupt if they are involved in a crash, especially if they are at fault.
We began looking in our last post at what options there may be for victims of military aviation accidents, whether for military personnel or their surviving family members. As we noted, although the federal government is generally immune from tort liability, there are certain exceptions.
On December 29, 2016, a Cessna Citation 525 went down into Lake Erie shortly after it departed from Burke Lakefront Airport near Cleveland, Ohio. Six people were on board, including the pilot, his wife, two of their sons and two close friends. The pilot was the president and chief executive of a beverage distribution company.
In our previous post, we began discussing the problems faced by the Marine Corp and the Navy with respect to certain helicopter units. Commentators have pointed out that the problem is related not only to material problems with the units, but also with maintenance culture in the military branches.
During New Year’s Eve, shortly after taking off from an airport 35 miles from Dallas, Texas, two private aircraft collided in mid-air. The planes were flying under VFR or visual flight rules, meaning that they were not in contact with air traffic control. They had just taken off from Aero Airport near McKinney, Texas. One plane crashed into a road and the other in a nearby self-storage unit. Three people were killed, including a former Air Force pilot and his son, who was on holiday break from the Air Force Academy. As of this writing, the other fatality has not been identified. No one was hurt on the ground, but there may be some damage to some of the units at the self-storage site.
A recent Bloomberg article highlighted a problem about which many people may not be aware—the fact that the U.S. military’s air fleet is widely old and probably needs replacement. Much of the problem surrounds certain helicopter, including the MH-53E Sea Dragon and the CH-53E helicopter units.
If you need to pursue legal action, there are times when a general-practice attorney will be more than adequate to represent you. But if your case is complex and requires specialized knowledge, it is in your best interests to search until you find a lawyer that has those qualifications.
There are many logistical problems that can hinder or delay the investigation into a plane crash. Even though most aviation accidents in the U.S. are investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board, private companies may be involved in the recovery of wreckage from a crash site.
Any commercial airline accident is worrisome and temporarily undermines the public's trust in flying. But when the cause of a commercial airline accident remains unsolved and/or its wreckage cannot be found, the feeling of unease and grief is typically greater than it would otherwise be.
On March 5, 2015, actor Harrison Ford took off from Santa Monica Airport in a restored World War II-era trainer, a single-engine PT-22. Almost immediately after takeoff, the aircraft experienced loss of engine power. Ford attempted to return to land at the airport but instead crashed at a nearby golf course. He suffered serious injuries, but survived to later reprise his role as Han Solo in "The Force Awakens."
Airliners have been known to crash for a variety of reasons, including equipment failure, weather, pilot or traffic controller error, or terrorism. However the last thing a passenger expects to happen is to die in a plane crash because the pilot decided to commit suicide.