Most aviation accidents in the U.S. occur within the category of general aviation, which includes small aircraft. General aviation accidents account for the vast majority of aviation accidents and far exceed the number of commercial aircraft crashes. While the government tends to blame private pilots for most of the crashes involving private planes and helicopters, a USA Today investigation revealed that many of these accidents are caused by defective parts that aviation companies have concealed.
Defective parts in planes
Many different defects have caused private plane and helicopter crashes, according to the investigation. Some of the types of defects USA Today identified include the following:
• Defective fuel tanks on helicopters that can rupture and explode
• Defective ice systems that allow ice to accumulate and fail to warn pilots
• Defective helicopter blades that can separate and slice through the craft
• Defective exhaust systems that can leak and cause fires
• Defective carburetors that can cause engines to stall in mid-flight
These and other defects have resulted in numerous crashes and deaths. However, the investigators found that many of the manufacturers have covered up these defects rather than issuing recalls because of profit motives. The National Transportation Safety Board frequently blames pilots for aviation accidents. However, a review of lawsuits involving small airplane crashes revealed that judges and juries have identified defective components, and an effort to conceal them has caused many of these collisions.
General aviation has an accident rate that is around 40 times higher than commercial aviation. There has not been a domestic airline crash since Feb. 12, 2009, when a plane crash in Buffalo, New York resulted in 50 passenger deaths. By contrast, approximately 45,000 people have lost their lives in private plane and helicopter crashes over the past 50 years. Many manufacturers have failed to install safer parts because of the monetary cost while disregarding the risk to the lives of people riding in or operating general aviation aircraft.