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Investigations Reveal Preventable Fires and Mechanical Defects to Blame for General Aviation Deaths

November 10, 2014  ·  By HM&M

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The importance of a manufacturer recall when a product is proven to cause harm is to protect the safety of public consumers. In a series of articles published by USA Today earlier this year, the investigation found repeated occurrence of defects in small airplanes and helicopters over the past five decades that have led to an estimated 45,000 deaths.

Extensive review of crash victim autopsy reports reveals that while many pilots and passengers survive the initial impact of a plane or helicopter crash, they often die from fires and smoke inhalation caused by unsafe or defective fuel tanks and exhaust systems. While airplane and helicopter manufactures have known about the dangers of post-crash fires for decades, and in spite of the availability of leak-proof and fire-retardant fuel and exhaust systems, the manufactures have refused to install the safer fuel and exhaust systems in their aircraft.

USA Today performed an extensive review of internal manufacturer records and government documents that cited the following examples of defects leading to general aviation fatalities:

  • Exhaust gas leaks in airplane exhaust systems causing engine fires;
  • Pilot seats that suddenly slide backwards, causing a nose-dive in airplanes when pilot loses grip of controls; and
  • Airplane and helicopter fuel tanks that easily rupture and ignite, causing people to be burned alive after otherwise survivable low-impact crashes.

The FAA has refused to hold the manufactures accountable for these defects. The FAA has stood by while aircraft manufacturers continue to build new aircraft with old technology. Tens of thousands of small airplanes and helicopters are constructed and allowed to operate under decades-old safety standards, in spite of the existence of newer, safer designs for aircraft parts, fuel and exhaust systems. Manufacturers have refused to recall suspected defective parts, some which are still in use, leaving hundreds of aircraft susceptible to further causes of death.

When an airplane or helicopter crash results in injuries or death that could have been prevented, manufacturers must be held accountable. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of an airplane or helicopter crash, contact an experienced Chicago aviation and product liability attorney today. Call for a free case evaluation.

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