COVID-19 Notice: Our attorneys are readily available via telephone, Zoom, and Skype for meetings or consultations. You can reach us immediately at (202) 902-8020.
For immediate assistance, please call our office directly.
While it is often said that air travel is safer than driving, aviation accidents do occur. The airplane crash lawyer Washington DC relies on is here to help with information about air travel and its associated risks. Air travel still presents significant risks that can be far more severe than an accident on the ground. Every time you board an airplane you are putting your life in the hands of hundreds of people you will never meet. You trust the pilot to be skilled and experienced and to get you where you need to go safely. You rely on the ground crew to be thorough in their preflight inspection. You expect the air traffic controller to be alert. You even trust the workers who built the plane to have tightened every rivet and checked every weld.
Aviation accidents can be caused by a wide variety of factors. Some of the ways an aviation accident can be caused are:
Air travel is one of the popular ways for people to transport themselves long distance. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, they regulate up to 2.5 million airline passengers every single day. Upwards of 27,00 flights are scheduled every day to carry eager passengers from destination to destination. Air travel also poses a risk to property damage. With 39.9 billion pounds of freight being transported annually, plane and jet accidents could result in the destruction of property. All of these millions of people who choose to fly are all at risk for the human and property cost of an aviation accident.
Because of the high risks of air travel, the aviation industry is regulated heavily at multiple levels of government. Many federal and state agencies are charged with some degree of oversight of air travel. For example, the Federal Aviation Administration oversees all non-military air traffic in the United States. They also keep reports on the aviation accidents and air traffic in order to try to prevent further problems from occurring. There are regional airport authorities who also have a job to ensure the well-being of passengers and airplane crew throughout the duration of all flights. All these people have a role in ensuring the safety of the aviation industry and that no accidents happen.
An aviation accident is defined by the Convention on International Civil Aviation Annex 13 as an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft, which takes place from the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight until all such persons have disembarked the aircraft, and in which a person is fatally or seriously injured and/or the aircraft sustains significant damage or structural failure and/or the aircraft goes missing or becomes completely inaccessible. The Annex also defines an aviation “incident” as an occurrence, not an “accident,” and is associated with the operation of an aircraft that has affected or could affect the safety of operation. A hull loss is if an aircraft is destroyed, damaged beyond repair, lost, or becomes completely inaccessible.
The first fatal aviation accident occurred near Wimereux, France, on June 15, 1785. The aviation accident involved a hot air balloon that killed the balloon’s inventor, Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier, and the balloon’s other passenger, Pierre Romain.
The first aviation accident that involved a powered aircraft was on September 17, 1908 when a Wright Model A aircraft crashed at Fort Myer, Virginia and injured its co-inventor and pilot, Orville Wright, and killed the passenger, Signal Corps Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge.
On March 27, 1977, 583 people died when a KLM Boeing 747 attempted to take off without flight clearance, and the airplane collided with a taxiing Pan Am 747 at Los Rodeos Airport on the Canary Island of Tenerife, Spain. The accident has the highest number of airliner passenger fatalities in history. There were no survivors from the KLM airplane. However, 61 of the 396 passengers and crew on the Pan Am aircraft did survive. Pilot error was the primary cause of the aviation accident, as the KLM captain began his takeoff run without obtaining air traffic control clearance. Unfortunately, a terrorist incident had occurred at a different airport and so many flights were diverted to Los Rodeos airport, but the small airport was equipped to deal with an aircraft of such size, and the dense fog contributed to the accident since the KLM flight crew could not see the Pan Am aircraft on the runway until just before the collision. The accident changed how the aviation industry operated in the area of communication, increasing emphasis on using standardized phraseology in air traffic control (ATC) communication by both controllers and pilots. “Cockpit Resource Management” was incorporated into flight crew training. Input of the crew is encouraged during aircraft operation and the pilot is no longer thought of an infallible.
Recently, aviation accidents have been in the news after Boeing’s two 737 MAX crashes and subsequent groundings. After two fatal crashes of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft (first in October 2018 and then in March 2019), regulatory authorities around the world grounded the aircraft series until further notice. On May 18, 2019, Boeing admitted that flaws in 737 MAX simulator software made the system unable to reproduce flight conditions that contributed to the crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia. The aviation accidents have severely damaged Boeing’s reputation and earnings, many calling for the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft to be grounded forever.
Meanwhile, the world’s deadliest aviation-related disaster of any kind, taking in fatalities both on the aircraft and ground, was on September 11, 2001. On that morning, four commercial aircrafts traveling on transcontinental flights were hijacked after takeoff and were subsequently crashed in four separate suicide attacks. As a result, 2,996 lives were lost, including the deaths of 19 terrorists. The 9/11 crashes were not considered accidents, but instead mass murder-suicidse. The United States and the member nations of NATO consider the incididents an act of war and terrorism.
If you or someone you love who lives in the DC area has been involved in an aviation accident or has died as a result of an aviation accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your suffering, injuries or losses. You may want to contact a top aviation accident lawyer Washington DC if you have any questions.
Despite this high level of regulation, air travel accidents do still occur. When they do, the results are too often tragic. These accidents are almost always fatal. It’s no secret that airplane crashes have the highest mortality rate per accident of any form of public transportation. Aviation accidents have a higher mortality rate than car accidents, truck accidents, and bus accidents. Yet, not every airplane accident is necessarily a disaster that makes the news.
If you have been injured through no fault of your own while traveling on an airplane or any other vehicle, you should contact the the automobile accident lawyer Washington DC trusts to find out if you are entitled to recover. The lawyers at Cohen & Cohen, P.C., have spent decades helping victims of aviation accidents get the compensation they deserve; call today to see if we can help you.