The National Transportation Safety Board has a few more small plane crashes to investigate. First, authorities have confirmed that a small plane accident on a beach in Venice, Florida, has claimed the lives of two people. And, over the past few weeks, other accidents around the country have claimed one life and resulted in injuries to a number of other people.
An investigation into National Transportation Safety Board investigations of small aircraft accidents suggests that the agency may not be as thorough as it should be. USA Today and a San Antonio, Texas, television station joined forces recently to take a closer look at the NTSB's accident reports. They discovered that courts -- judges and juries -- found manufacturers liable in many of the accidents the agency had blamed on the pilots. This is not a new development, either. The cases go back decades.
We write about the results of the National Transportation Safety Board's investigations all the time. The agency, after all, has the final say when it comes to the cause of an accident, so its findings carry a good deal of weight in the minds of the public. NTSB reports have credibility and authority.
There are many variables and factors to take into account to determine the cause of an aircraft accident. In a private aircraft crash, even a slight error on the part of a pilot -- even one with a considerable amount of experience -- can lead to disaster.
As readers of our nationwide aircraft accident blog know, some plane crashes happen for no discernable reason. In other cases, poor weather conditions can inhibit the safe operation of many kinds of aircraft, from single-engine planes to jumbo jets.
To the dismay of the families of plane crash victims, it can take a long time for investigators to issue a ruling on what caused the accident. This may be particularly true for small plane crashes; there are many of these around the country every year, and government resources might be spread thin.
One of the most wrenching aspects of private plane crashes is that the victims are often related to one another -- compounding an already tragic situation. That was the case when a small aircraft accident in Jacksonville, Florida, recently claimed the lives of a father and his two daughters, the older of whom was on the varsity golf team at the University of North Florida.
No matter who it is, the circumstances are tragic when a small plane crashes and leads to loss of life. The situation may be magnified, however, when the victim is well-known -- or even related to someone who is well-known.
For many people on board an aircraft, the place they feel the least comfortable in the air is over water. Perhaps thoughts of being stranded on an uncharted island as in the TV show "Lost" run through their heads. In any case, whether they're flying over a lake, ocean or river, people don't want anything to go wrong in the air.
In many cases, when a small airplane crashes, there may be no survivors who can describe to investigators what might have happened to cause the plane to crash. This was the case in a recent small aircraft accident in Georgia that killed two men, ages 71 and 58.