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.
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.
Recently, a man from Crown Point, New York died when his Piper PA28 crashed near an airfield near Middlebury, vermont. The pilot complained of an aircraft instrument-related malfunction soon after he took off from the Middlebury state airport, and several eyewitnesses noted that the plane was making “odd noises.” The man attempted to return to the airfield but instead struck some trees near the field.