Commercial airline travel is statistically safer than driving, but just about every major carrier in the United States has had at least one accident. Airline crashes usually lead to a large loss of life and undergo a thorough investigation conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The cause is often determined to be mechanical failure, human error or a combination of the two. The NTSB has determined that equipment malfunctions and inexperienced pilots likely caused the first fatal accident involving a U.S. carrier in a decade. The agency’s preliminary report was released on December 16, 2020.
The accident took place on October 17, 2019, at Tom Madsen Airport in Unalaska, Alaska. The turboprop plane overshot the runway and crashed into rocks near the Bering Sea. The accident claimed the life of a 38-year-old man. After analyzing the wreckage, NTSB investigators discovered that crossed wires may have prevented the plane’s anti-skid system and brakes from working properly.
Pilots lacked flying time
The NTSB report also reveals that the pilot and co-pilot at the controls of the Saab 2000 had a combined 269 hours of flying time in the aircraft. The captain was attempting only his 10th landing at Unalaska. Peninsula Airways, which owned the plane until 2018, required flight officers to have at least 300 hours of flying time. Ravn Air relaxed the standard after acquiring the bankrupt airline. The accident was the company’s 19th since 2008.
Airline accident lawsuits
Passengers injured in commercial aircraft accidents and the family members of deceased passengers may file lawsuits against airlines when poor maintenance or human error was to blame. Personal injury attorneys with experience in this area could follow NTSB investigations closely and study accident reports carefully for evidence that could establish negligence in this type of litigation.