Articles Posted in Aviation Accidents

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Miami International Airport, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, and other airports in the South Florida region process millions of flyers and visitors each year. Most visitors travel safely and get to their destinations without event. However, serious injuries can happen at airports and when they do occur they can ruin travel plans and cause severe distress.

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What accidents are common at airports?

Many things can go wrong at airports, but common injuries include:

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According to safety experts, airplanes are one of the safer modes of travel – especially if you travel on large commercial planes. Over the past decade, there have been about 773 global fatalities from plane crashes annually, on average. This means that far more people are sustaining serious and fatal injuries from car accidents in Homestead and other communities rather than planes. This is because the FAA and other authorities have made a number of important safety changes over the years:

1) Safety changes meant to prevent burn injuries and fires. In larger aircraft, cabin safety requirements mandate flame-resistant insulation, fire-retardant panels, and fire-retardant seat cushions. This reduces the chance of a fire and prevent flash fires, giving passengers more time to escape without serious burn injuries.

2) Stronger plane components. Planes are built stronger since 2009. Since that year, seats in larger airplanes must withstand at least 16 times the force of gravity.

3) Easier escape routes. Airplanes carrying more than 60 passengers are required to have wider passageways to allow passengers to leave faster in an emergency. In most larger commercial planes, exit routes must be illuminated by floor lighting. This has been shown to help passengers leave the plane faster, even during nighttime flights or when smoke is present.

Despite these safety changes, aviation accidents in Homestead and other communities can still happen – and experts claim that more can be done to prevent airplane-related injuries. For example, there have been many attempts to introduce more restraint systems, including should-harness style seatbelts similar to car seat belts.

Another change that many experts are aiming for are changes to pilot training. The FAA is expected to make some important pilot training changes this autumn, possibly to increase the amount of training that pilots will need to have. Co-pilots on passenger-commercial flights may also be required to get the same licensing as pilots.

The FAA is also addressing pilot fatigue. While it is known that fatigue leads to car and truck collisions in Homestead and other communities, research has also shown that fatigued pilots are a risk in the skies. In 2009, a crash in New York state led to 50 fatalities, for example. That crash was connected with pilot fatigue. Starting early next year, the FAA will require pilots to get a 30 hour continuous break every week as well as a ten hour break before duty.

Unfortunately, even with these changes some experts say that more needs to be done to prevent airplane accidents. One issue with airline safety is that different rules apply to passenger commercial flights, cargo flights, small personal planes, and other types of aircraft. Authorities agree that more needs to be done to prevent accidents affecting all types of aircraft.

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A recent Florida aviation accident has claimed the lives of an entire family. The Bramlage family were vacationing together from Kansas and flying a small single-engine plane at the time of accident. The tragedy has brought an outpouring of support from communities in both Kansas and Florida, where the Bramlage family were well respected and liked.

The crash has also opened discussions about aviation accidents and other accidents that can affect families. Some child safety experts have stated their opinions that families need to have plans in place. For example, if both parents are killed in a Miami car accident, there should be a plan in place to keep the children safe. This plan should extend beyond financial considerations such as life insurance – it should consider where the children will live and who should be in charge of their well-being. Long term, experts stress the importance of an updated will and having one’s affairs in order.

Some families who are aviation enthusiasts have told reporters that they insist on flying separately, since single-engine airplanes do not have the safety records of commercial flights. Some couples fly separately to ensure that their children will be cared for even after an accident. Actress Kate Winslet and her former husband Sam Mendes, for example, famously stated that they fly separately to ensure that someone will be able to care for their children in the event of an accident.

Some safety experts claim that such precautions are not necessary, pointing out that the likelihood of a Miami truck accident is much higher than the possibility of a plane crash, but couples still travel by car together. Experts interviewed in the wake of the Bramlage accident also were quick to point out that if couples choose to fly together that is reasonable as well.

So far, the cause of the Bramlages’ plane crash is not known and authorities are still investigating what may have caused the 2006 Pilatus Pc-12/47 to crash. So far, what is known is that weather was clear and the family were on the way home when the aircraft began to break apart and went down.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there have been no fatal accidents involving scheduled commercial airplanes in the past two years in the US. There were, however, 267 fatal plane accidents involving non-commercial planes. In the majority of cases, human error caused the accidents. However, this is still considerably fewer fatalities and injuries than traffic accidents. In 2009 alone, there were over 10 million car accidents in the US, causing 35 000 fatalities. Each year, car accidents in Miami also cause serious injuries, including Miami spinal cord injuries, burns, amputations, and other injuries.

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Helicopters are increasingly used in everything from firefighting to medical emergencies. There are more helipads than ever before and some affluent individuals even used helicopters to travel. Recently, a tragic helicopter accident in Florida claimed the lives of three people. The incident involved a Mayo Clinic helicopter and after the accident a number of questions have been raised about the safety of emergency helicopter use. In addition to the accident, there has been some media attention concerning the safety of medical helicopters.

In 2010, Popular Mechanics published an article claiming that pilots who man medical helicopters have among the most dangerous jobs in the US and fly some of the most dangerous missions. According to the article, in some cases helicopters are used even when other alternatives are available. The article also suggested that medical helicopters require less strict protocols and fewer safety mandates than most other kinds of aircraft. For example, medical helicopters do not need to comply with the strict weather and pedestrian checks that other aircraft need to consider. Potentially, this could mean that helicopter accidents are even more of a concern than Miami airplane accidents.

According to some sources, for medical helicopters the fatal accident rate is 1.18 for every 100 000 flight hours. This compares to 1.13 per 100 000 hours for air taxis and general aviation flights. In 2011, The National Transportation Safety Board announced that accident rates for medical emergency helicopters are not acceptable.

Medical helicopters are used for many purposes. They fly patients into hospitals in emergencies, for example, and they fly donated organs to airports for transport. They are also fly a number of other missions. Medical helicopters range from top-of-the-line twin-engine autopilot air ambulance to more economical single-engine models. There is no definitive data about differences in medical ambulance accidents between different models.

For patients, the results of medical helicopter crashes can be devastating. At a time when patients already need to be aware of Miami misdiagnosis and other problems that can lead to a Miami medical malpractice lawsuit, helicopter accidents are one more additional worry. A patient who is being transported to a hospital for emergency treatment via helicopter is unlikely to survive the crash. Medical helicopter crashes can also destroy the donated organs which can be a patient’s only hope of survival.

Proving liability in a medical helicopter crash can also be challenging. Private investigators may be dealing with a site that is heavily damaged by the crash itself. They can check the equipment made available for the pilots, the condition of the helicopter, and the training of the pilots and crew. Proving liability, however, can be challenging, especially since in many cases the helicopters are owned by third parties and are in use for hospitals.

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Every year, Broward and south Palm Beach County see between two and more than twelve airplane accidents. Many of these accidents occur at small airports, including Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, Pompano Beach Air Park, North Perry Airport, and Boca Raton Airport. Fort Lauderdale airplane accidents and plane accidents in other cities are usually most dangerous to passengers and pilots, who are likely to sustain serious and even fatal injuries. Many pilots and passengers who survive these types of accidents become Fort Lauderdale brain injury patients or spinal cord injury patients at area hospitals.

However, residents in areas near the airports also worry about their personal safety. In many cases, airplanes fly right over residential areas and in many cases smaller airports are separated from residential areas only by some wire fencing. In case of engine failure and other problems, residents in areas near the small airports worry about airplanes crashing into their homes.

In Florida, pilots are required to adhere to certain rules which are designed to keep them, their passengers, and bystanders safe. Pilots in Florida, for example, are required to keep themselves and their aircraft flight-worthy. Pilots are subject to random inspections. If pilots are found to not adhere to the rules, they can have their licenses revoked or suspended. They may also face fines and other penalties if they are found to be in violation of the law. Pilots are also required to have their licenses renewed periodically. In order to get a renewal, pilots must submit to and pass a medical test.

In addition to the rules for pilots, airports – including smaller airports – also are subject to a number of laws and rules. For example, all airports are required to maintain markings and lights on runways. There are also requirements for runway widths. In addition, all airports must maintain a minimum area of territory around runways empty. If an airplane loses control during take off or a landing – the two times when airplanes are most likely to crash – the extra buffer zone ensures that residents in the area are less likely to be injured.

While all of these precautions help reduce the risk of Florida plane accidents, these accidents still do happen – and those who live close to smaller airports may be at larger risk. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, there are 18000 airplane accidents involving general aviation airplanes for every one accident involving a commercial planes. General aviation aircraft includes experimental planes, private planes, banner planes, student-operated plans, and news helicopters – the aircraft more likely to use smaller airports. Part of the reason that general aviation craft crash more often, according to experts, is that commercial airline pilots face even stricter rules and far more rigorous testing and training to keep passengers safe. Since takeoff and landing are the riskiest time for airplanes, experts agree that residents living near airports used by general aviation aircraft are most vulnerable to injury.

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Much has been written about drowsy drivers who can cause Florida car accidents and truck accidents. However, it is not only drivers who can be dangerous when driving tired. Airline pilots, too, can easily cause accidents when they do not have adequate rest to do their jobs well. In many reports and studies, federal airplane accident experts have targeted pilot fatigue as a cause of many airplane accidents.

Airplane accidents are often attributed to pilot error but official investigators have often targeted fatigue, long hours, training issues, and working conditions as potential problems which lead to pilot error. Even common sense tells us that a tired pilot can be more dangerous than a pilot who is well trained and well rested. However, while truck drivers face strict regulations regarding hours of service and rest periods, pilots have traditionally not faced similar rules. Under current rules, pilots need to take eight hours off duty each day, but this can involve eating, running errands, and other tasks – not necessarily resting. As well, pilots can work up to 16 hours in a row on overnight flights, legally, and can have longer workdays when flying airplanes without passengers.

The Department of Transportation has made a suggestion which would impose such rules. The proposed regulation changes would mandate shorter on-duty hours, required rest periods, and limits on flight hours. The proposed changes would mean that pilot rest periods would increase to nine hours and would only start when the pilot reached home or a hotel (so that the commute would not be considered part of the rest).

As well, the proposed changes would require that pilots get at lead eight hours of sleep during their rest period. Pilots would be able to spend no more than 13 hours of on-duty time each day, including stopovers, flight checks, and all related activities. As well, pilots who make many landings and takeoffs or who fly overnight would be limited to 9 hours on duty. Pilots who feel that they are too fatigued to fly safely would be protected by the new regulations, which allows pilots to turn down flights when they are tired, without allowing the airline to reprimand the pilots for such decisions.

It is possible that a decision about the proposed changes will be made in the summer or fall of 2011. However, critics note that the rules do not address some issues which are unique to pilots. For example, pilots often overnight in places other than their home city in order to meet scheduling requirements or commute long distances to get home. This pressure can also lead to problems getting adequate rest but is not addressed in the proposed regulation changes.

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Traditionally, airplane safety professionals and associations claim that where you sit on an airplane has no bearing on your risk in an aviation accident. However, a study conducted by Popular Mechanics based on three and a half decades of seating charts and NTSB reports suggests that areas in the back of an airplane are safer. The study suggests that passengers seated near the tail of a plane are approximately 40% more likely than passengers near the front of the aircraft to survive a crash.

The study relies on statistics gleaned over 36 years of raw data from the National Transportation Safety Board files. The files found that in many crashes, passengers seated in the back of the aircraft survived while those in the front did not. The statistics gathered during the study found that passengers seated behind the wing, in the rear cabin, had an average survival rate of 69%. Passengers seated near the wings and in the coach section immediately in front of the wings had an average survival rate of 56%. The seats in the 15% front of the airplane – which on many planes are the business-class or first-class section, had an average survival rate of 49%.

Despite the findings, however, experts are quick to note that there is no need necessarily to crowd towards the back and give up the perks of first-class flying. The statistical probability of being in an airplane is very low. It continues to be one of the safest modes of transportation, with only a few serious airplane accidents a year. In comparison, fatal car accidents occur every few seconds in this country. The average person is far more likely to be seriously injured or killed in a car accident than in an airplane accident.

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After the disaster of September 11 and the security scare this past Christmas, more people are worried about aviation accidents caused not by pilot error or plane malfunction, but rather threats caused by security problems. There are many things you can do to help minimize your risk of being affected by an aviation accident caused by a security threat:

1) Report odd activity. If you see anything at an airport or on an airplane which might be in violation of security procedures or which may be a threat, bring it to the attention of someone in charge at once. At the same time, be careful not to stereotype. Anyone of any nationality, gender, or age can pose a threat.

2) Stay alert. Take notice of the people and items around you. Keeping your eyes open ensures you may see anything out of place. Staying alert also ensures that you will be able to react quickly to help prevent disaster and possible personal injury.

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Safety rules for medical helicopters may tighten after 2008 saw an increase in the number of aviation accidents involving medical helicopters. Medical helicopters are designed to help save lives. When patients in remote areas need to be airlifted to hospitals or when patients need to be transported quickly to a facility with specialized care, medical helicopters can help.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, there are 750 medical helicopters in use across the country. When an accident takes place with one of these helicopters, serious spinal cord injuries, fatalities, and brain injuries can result. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports that aviation accidents involving medical helicopters claimed seven lives in 2007. In 2008, that number had climbed to twenty-nine, prompting concerns about safety regulations.

There are many theories for the increase in accidents. Some claim that the number of medical helicopters has increased in the past few years, also increasing the risk. Some experts allege that medical helicopters require more equipment to be safe. For example, night-vision goggles, some allege, could help reduce accident rates. As well, the conditions in which medical helicopters must fly is often a consideration. Since medical helicopters must fly to emergencies, they must often fly through storms and clouds which delay other flights.

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With the economy in poor condition still, some safety experts are warning that businesses may be cutting costs and increasing the odds of accidents in doing so. Some worry that small businesses and larger companies may be cutting costs in ways that compromise safety as well as customer service. Some industry insiders working with aerospace industries have expressed worry that airline companies may be among those who are cutting safety as they cut costs.

One area of concern is airplane maintenance. While safety regulators set standards for maintenance, regular maintenance takes an airplane out of circulation for up to a week. During that week, the airplane is in a hangar getting repairs and is not making any money. Industry insiders note that during a tough economy airlines want to keep planes as full as possible and in the sky as possible.

Another issue is the use of vendors maintain airplanes. These independent vendors work either in Central America or near airports and work quickly on a number of planes. In some cases, language issues or lack of training can mean airplane maintenance mistakes. In fact, federal safety officials have voiced concerns about vendors since 2005, but vendors continue to be used for airplane maintenance because they are quick and inexpensive.