The Necessity of Legal Assistance in Proving Pilot Negligence in the Event of an Accident

Since that first aviation accident on September 17, 1908, the aviation industry has continuously improved, equipping planes with the latest safety standards and making these the fastest and safest means of long-distance and overseas travel. This high safety rate in the air travel industry, with only 138 fatalities annually, is affirmed by the Aviation Safety Network and other transportation authorities.

Despite the continuous upgrades in the design, especially of commercial planes, and in the air traffic control(ATC) system, changes aimed at strengthening teamwork among the flight personnel and eradication of the concept that the “captain is god” have also been implemented.

The installation of the latest safety standards, upgrade in design and all other changes, however, will prove useless if the one who has control of the plane will not strictly follow flight procedures or if anyone else, whose job affects a flight, will not perform well the job assigned to him/her.

There are different known causes of aviation accidents; the ones most commonly recorded are mechanical malfunction or defect, airline liability or negligence, air traffic controller error and pilot error. The number one type of aviation mishap that results from the causes of aviation accidents listed above is airplane crash during approach or touchdown. The greatest risk factor for approach or touchdown crashes is unstabilized approach. This refers to an aircraft’s failure to maintain speed, descent rate, and vertical/lateral flight path.

According to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the agency that governs the US aviation industry, a proper approach is highly critical to safety; thus, being able to persuade pilots to conduct a go-around, instead of forcing a landing, can very well result to lives saved and zero or lower cost of damage to the aircraft.

A pilot committing an error while taking off or touching down is just one of the so many other mistakes pilots have been found to be guilty of in the past. These mistakes include:

  •  Failure to read cockpit instrumentation correctly ;
  •  Failure to comply with the directions given from the air traffic control tower, either upon takeoff or when landing;
  •  Failure to use the plane’s de-icing system properly;
  •  Maneuvering mistakes that may cause engine failure or collision with another plane;
  •  Failure to extend flaps during takeoff;
  •  Flying at the wrong altitude; and
  •  Disconnecting the autopilot, whether accidentally or intentionally.

As explained in the website of the law firm Hankey Law Office, proving pilot error to be the cause of an airplane accident can be very difficult. Since most lawsuits brought against airplane pilots are based on standard definitions of negligence, it is important to have a lawyer to make sure all of criteria necessary to prove negligence are met.

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