Aviation Accidents, Texas Lawyer

Aviation Accidents

Aviation Accidents are relatively rare, but are usually catastrophic. Personal Injury Lawyer Chris Jones is a Private Pilot. Chris owned and operated his own airplane, and spends time around local airports and pilots giving him insight into the potential causes of an airplane crashes. Chris also practiced law with John Howie (deceased) in Dallas. John was one of the preeminent aviation lawyers of his time. The causes of most aviation accidents primarily fall with 4 general categories : 1. pilot error; 2. controller errors; 3. maintenance problems; and 4 product defects. The Federal Aviation Administration has an online Accident/Incident Data System (AIDS) database containing incident data records for all categories of civil aviation.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency that investigates and determines the probable cause of transportation accidents, including aviation accidents. The NTSB is now publishing the Aircraft Investigation Reports online.

Pilot Error

Title 14: Aeronautics and Space, PART 91 — GENERAL OPERATING AND FLIGHT RULES of the Code of Federal Regulations prescribes rules governing the operation of aircraft within the United States, including the waters within 3 nautical miles of the U.S. coast. The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.

Pilots receive extensive training and there are a number of certifications and ratings ranging from Private Pilot to Airline Transport Pilots. PART 61—CERTIFICATION: PILOTS, FLIGHT INSTRUCTORS, AND GROUND INSTRUCTORS sets forth the requirements for issuing pilot, flight instructor, and ground instructor certificates and ratings; the conditions under which those certificates and ratings are necessary; and the privileges and limitations of those certificates and ratings.  Furthermore, PART 67—MEDICAL STANDARDS AND CERTIFICATION prescribes the medical standards and certification procedures for issuing medical certificates for airmen and for remaining eligible for a medical certificate, which pilots must keep current.

Like drivers, there are a number of errors pilots can make that result in accidents. It would be impossible to list them all. However, there are some errors that show up time and time in accident reports – flying into bad weather, improperly loading the aircraft and fuel starvation.

Checking the weather before the flight leaves the ground is one of the most important pilot responsibilities. In private aircraft, bad weather is a killer and should be avoided if possible. Icing and thunderstorms have no mercy when it comes to bringing down an airplane. Overloading and improperly loading an airplane can make the airplane uncontrollable. Considering the fact that there are no shoulders on the highways in the sky, checking the fuel and managing it during flight is extremely important.

Pilots should always have and use aircraft specific checklists. Above all, pilots should take their time, avoid get “homeitis”, and refuse to cut corners. As a passenger, always let the pilot take his or her time and decide whether to take off or not. It may save your life.

Controller Error

Air traffic controllers work in control towers, approach control facilities, and route centers coordinating the movement of air traffic. They ensure that planes stay safe distances apart. Their job requires total concentration 100% of the time, making it stressful and exhausting. They are an important part of a safe aviation system.

Please visit the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and the FAA Air Traffic 101 to learn more about controllers. Air Traffic Control Tapes is a very interesting FAA resource allowing you to listen to actual pilots and controllers during incidents and accidents.

Air Traffic Controllers are human and do make mistakes. Considering their responsibility to keep separation between aircraft, their mistakes can be catastrophic.

Maintenance Problems

Again, you cannot pull an airplane to the side of the road when there is a mechanical problem in flight. Preventive maintenance and discovering potential problems before they occur are some of the keys to airworthiness and avoiding crashes. The Federal Regulations require a number of inspections on an aircraft. In additional to the regulations and manufacturer recommendations, a team made up of manufacturers, owners, their representative organizations, and FAA engineers and inspectors wrote Best Practices Guide for Maintaining Aging General Aviation Airplanes to help owners of aging aircraft.

Only qualified mechanics should perform the inspections and do the maintenance. The regulations are very specific in requiring the inspection and maintenance records to be kept. The log books are critical when purchasing an aircraft or investigating a crash.

Products Liability

Aviation accidents can and do occur as a result of design defects, manufacturing defects and marketing defects. Please see our post concerning Texas Products Liability, with the understanding that the law of another state may apply to the accident.

To reduce crashes caused by product defects, the FAA issues Airworthiness Directives addressing the unsafe condition and product when the FAA finds that: (a) an unsafe condition exists in a product; and (b) the condition is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design. A look through the directives reveals some of the defects that can lead to problems.

Board Certified Personal Injury Lawyer

Chris Jones is a Lawyer and Private Pilot and if you or your family member has been seriously injured or killed in an aviation accident and you need a Texas attorney, please do not hesitate to give East Texas Attorney, Chris Jones, Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, a call at 888-236-4878 for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

About Chris Jones

Chris Jones is a Personal Injury lawyer and Wrongful Death lawyer with over 27 years of experience. Chris Jones is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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