For many people in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, reading or hearing about a plane crash is a rare incident, but for people who fly frequently or work in the aviation industry, these accidents are a real risk. The steep consequences of aviation accidents were highlighted recently in a Pennsylvania crash in which two victims were fatally injured. This accident provides an opportunity to remind flyers of their rights in the unfortunate event that they are ever involved in an airplane accident.
Plane crashes: less rare than believed
According to Harrisburg's ABC 27 News, the crash occurred near Gettysburg the day after Christmas. Both occupants of the plane were fatally injured in the crash, and identifications - as well as an investigation of the crash - were still pending at press time. The aircraft was a small twin-engine monoplane.
Sadly, this accident calls attention to the fact that aviation accidents involving private or charter planes are much more common than large commercial airplane accidents. The National Transportation Safety Board states in a report released in December 2013 that, of the 202 fatal accidents that caused 358 people to be fatally injured in 2013, more than half occurred in personal aircraft. The category of general aviation, which excludes passenger airliners, represented the majority of the reported fatalities.
An ABC News article published in spring 2013 provides the following troubling statistics on general aviation:
- There are an estimated 220,000 private aircraft flown in the U.S. today.
- General aviation fatalities account for 97 percent of all aviation fatalities.
- Nearly 500 Americans are killed in small plane accidents each year.
- On a daily basis, an average of five small plane accidents occur.
What makes these statistics even more troubling is the fact that not all of these accidents are unavoidable.
Many aviation accidents may be preventable
There are various factors that can contribute to aviation accidents, from equipment malfunction to pilot error. The same ABC News article reports that, in general aviation accidents, the pilot losing control is the top cause of fatal crashes. The NTSB chief interviewed in the article states that general aviation fatalities have become one of the NTSB's highest areas of concern. Earlier this year, the organization started releasing videos and safety alerts to help pilots avoid preventable accidents.
It is especially tragic when aviation accidents affect unknowing passengers who trusted in the ability of the pilot or the design and maintenance of the plane. Since charter flights and private flights fall into the category of general aviation, passengers who fly on these planes may be at a greater risk than passengers who fly with commercial carriers.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in an aviation accident, it is crucial that you speak with an attorney. An attorney can help determine whether someone else was liable in causing the accident and can be held accountable for its costs.