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Report highlights NTSB failure to conduct thorough general aviation accident investigations, P.2

In our last post, we began looking a recent USA Today report highlighting the some of the problems with the National Transportation Safety Board's approach to investigation of general aviation accidents. These problems include not devoting enough resources to these investigations, relying on manufacturers to identify problems with component parts, and heavy emphasis on the cause of the crash, as opposed to the cause of injury or death.

The latter issue is problematic because it means that the agency is ignoring problems with crashworthiness, or the ability of airplanes to protect aircraft occupants in the event of an accident. For example, in some minor accidents death or serious injury is caused not by the crash itself but by fires ignited as a result of the crash. Without thoroughly investigating the real causes of injury and death, manufacturers are left free to not address this issue, and others like it.

Much of the solution to the problem lies with manufacturers, who often play an important role in helping determine what causes general aviation accidents. Manufactures, of course, cannot be expected to throw themselves under the bus when there are signs of defects, for obvious reasons. In cases where there is ambiguity, it is highly unlikely manufacturers will take the blame.

For those who have survived a general aviation accident, or who have had a loved one die in such an accident, relying on official NHTSA crash reports—that is, the factual aspect of these reports—isn’t necessarily going to be helpful, though it may be in some cases. When there is evidence suggesting potential design or manufacturing defects, following up those leads with any available evidence outside official reports can be important.

Working with an experienced attorney can give plaintiffs in aviation accident cases a fighting chance to overcome the wall of resistance against finding manufacturers liable or small aircraft accidents, and ensuring they receive fair compensation for injuries and losses. 

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