Articles Posted in Plane Crashes, Injuries and Deaths

The Facts:

*Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in children ages 5 to 14.

*Children riding in the back seat of a vehicle reduce their risk of a fatal injury by 30% in cars that do not have passenger front seat airbags.

How safe is it to fly on regional airlines and commuter flights? Now a lawsuit involving a pilot for a regional airline and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is shedding light on serious problems that affect commuter flights and that could well lead to airplane accidents, airplane injuries, and airplane fatalities.

In far too many cases, it seems that small regional airlines are ignoring mechanical problems, safety issues, and even complaints by crew members and pilots. For example, one commuter airplane had reported landing gear problems seven times without a result – within a month, the plane crash-landed without its landing gear. In many cases, crew members who complain or blow the whistle are fired by the airline company.

In addition small airlines may be training a number of new pilots poorly – another mistake that has lead to small plane accidents in recent years.

After the Maryland State Police Medivac Helicopter “Trooper 2” crashed in September and killed four people aboard, the National Transportation Safety Board has released an investigative report that largely blames pilot error in the Maryland helicopter accident.

The crash took place on September 28 in bad weather after being re-routed. The pilot reported problems with the radio signal in the minutes before the crash and in the minutes after the crash, emergency responders had difficulty locating the wreckage in dense woods. The helicopter was carrying five people, including two car accident victims. All in all, four were killed, including 59-year-old Stephen J. Bunker, the pilot; Trooper 34-year-old Mickey C. Lippy; 39-year-old Tonya Mallard, a volunteer emergency worker; and 17-yearold Ashley J. Younger, a recent high school graduate from Waldorf who was one of the car crash victims.

Many people believe that the NTSB acted too quickly in blaming the pilot and that there were many other problems that occurred on the night of the Maryland helicopter accident. Many blame the communication issues between the pilot and ground control – as well as the outdated weather reports used before the helicopter took off. Some point to the fact that pilot Stephen Bunker was extremely experience and qualified, while other point to the fact that the NTSB has a history of citing pilot error in cases where they do not want to take partial responsibility for an accident. Some think that the FAA holds at least partial accountability for the fatal copter accident.

Read More About NTSB Concludes Pilot Error Caused Deadly MedVav Crash…

Two different plane crashes have occurred at flight schools in Virginia in the past three months, with both small aircraft accidents involving a faulty plane engine.

On August 26, a plane crashed near Luray, Virginia, after taking off from Luray Caverns airport. The pilot and passenger made it safely from Leesburg Executive Airport in Leesburg, Va., but had trouble taking off from Luray to return home. Although it took five attempts to start the engine, the plane then took off with everything operating normally. Shortly after takeoff, however, the plane slowed and they lost engine power. The National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) is now investigating the crash landing of the Piper Arrow III – specifically whether mechanical problems were the cause of the airplane crash.

On August 7, a Piper PA-28-161 single engine plane also went down in Virginia. This small aircraft crash took place at Winchester Regional Airport in Winchester, Va., during a flight lesson. The hour-long flight was uneventful until the plane was about five minutes from landing. At that point, the engine went from “full” to “idle” despite pilot intervention and troubleshooting. The plane crash landed to the left of the runway, hitting a fence and a berm before coming to a stop. The certified private pilot received minor injuries during the Virginia plane crash while the student pilot was uninjured. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the reason for the crash, but suspects an engine failure.

A man miraculously escaped serious injury after crashing his small engine plane into Green Ridge State Forest in Maryland. The man, 75-year-old Donald Myers, was flying above Allegany County, Maryland, when the engine of his 2009 Kitfox fixed wing aircraft cut out. The small plane’s mechanical failure sent the aircraft into the Green Ridge State Forest, where it crashed between two trees and a few feet off of the ground. The man’s plane was built from a kit.

The small plane accident took place at about 9:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. Myers, an experienced pilot, only suffered a small cut on his hand. The man jumped down from the plane, walked to a nearby road in the Oldtown, Maryland, area, and flagged down help after his MD plane crash. He refused medical treatment for the gash on his hand according to authorities.

Myers said, “I just was careful and got out and grabbed a hold of grapevine and slid on down, of course the aircraft isn’t that high off the ground.”

When it comes to employee whistle-blowing, it’s difficult to know whether or not accusations of safety violations should be taken seriously. However, a recent federal investigation has found that the Federal Avian Administration’s whistle-blowing instances have proven to be true in most cases. In fact, almost thirty different whistle-blowing safety complaints have been verified – safety complaints that could save lives, reduce the number of airplane accident injuries, and prevent aircraft accidents in general.

The safety complaints cover a variety of airplane accident topics, ranging from air traffic control issues to improper procedures to inadequate manuals to airplane equipment maintenance concerns. Many believe the number of whistle-blowers – and the treatment they receive after they go public – means that the FAA has a lot of work to do as an agency, especially to keep aircraft passengers safe from airplane accident and airplane incidents.

Specifically, federal officials from the whistle-blower protection office cite cases in which whistle-blowers are ignored by the FDA, demoted, and even shamed. One whistle-blower, FAA inspector Christopher Monteleon, had his aviation inspection credentials revoked after he brought attention to Colgan Air safety issues. This February, a Cogan Air plane went down in Buffalo and killed everyone on board.

After a number of concerning plane crashes in the last two years involving untrained pilots and pilot fatigue, a number of FAA officials, pilots, and government officials met in Washington, DC, this week in order to discuss the future of airplane safety and announce immediate emergency actions to prevent future plane crashes.

The meeting ended with a few new resolutions: the FAA will write new pilot regulations involving the number of hours of flying allowed; the government will conduct a review of pilot training; the government will pressure all airlines to focus on safety programs and collect flight data; and the FAA will improve the ability of airlines to fully research a pilot’s flight history before hiring. Currently, only the last five years of a pilot’s flight history can be accessed.

Many of these resolutions would affect regional airlines, not national ones which already take many of these precautions to prevent plane accidents.

On Friday, May 22, 70-year-old Phillip Postelle of Walkersville, Maryland, was killed in an Ultralight aircraft accident. According to authorities, the man and a friend took off from separate ultralight aircrafts on Friday at around 5:30 p.m. from the Hanover Airport.

About a mile from the Hanover Airport, Postelle’s plane fell from the sky, hitting a tree and a fence before coming to a stop. Witness and neighborhood resident Larry Rhoten said that he heard an engine cut off in the distance before the lightweight aircraft crashed a few houses down from where Rhoten lives. A man was lying on a tarp about 20 feet from where the plane landed, but he was not injured. The crash took place at around 8:20 p.m. on Friday evening. Postelle’s friend returned to the airstrip that evening, and began to worry about his fellow pilot when he did not return after sunset.

An autopsy of the airplane crash victim showed that Postelle died of blunt force trauma and that he did not suffer from a medical emergency, such as a heart attack or stroke, in the moments before the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sent officials to examine the aircraft and plane engine on Saturday. In addition, the plane crash will also be independently investigated by both local township and county authorities. The investigation is expected to last one to two weeks.

The Washington Post and Annapolis Capital reported that on Sunday, April 5 at Bay Bridge Airport a woman was seriously injured by a moving airplane propeller.

Cynthia Lynn Connelly Ryan of Montgomery County allegedly walked into the moving propeller of an airplane while on the tarmac at Bay Bridge Airport in Stevensville, Maryland. The plane accident resulted in a severe head laceration for the 41-year-old woman from Silver Springs woman.

The Associated Press added that emergency workers rushed Ryan to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma center in Baltimore, where she is currently listed in fair condition. Maryland State Police Sergeant Anthony Rounds from the Centreville barracks told the media that the incident is still under investigation. It is not clear why the woman was so close to the propeller or what caused the accident itself.

The Washington Post reports that a small, four-seater plane crashed into a Montgomery County subdivision on Sunday, March 15, a quarter before two in the afternoon. The pilot of the plane parachuted to safety in the moments before the crash, while no one was injured on the ground.

The pilot, who has yet to be identified, reported mechanical problems with his Cirrus SR-22 to the Montgomery County Airpark shortly after takeoff and attempted to land back at the airport immediately. However, the plane began to lose altitude and the pilot ejected from the plane using a rocket-propelled parachute. Before leaving the plane, he set the plane on a course to crash at the entrance of the Flower Hill subdivision where he did not see any people.

The Montgomery County Fire and Emergency Medical Services reported that although there was some property damage where the plane went done, the mess was being cleaned up while FAA investigators analyzed the crash site for any remaining clues as to what caused the mechanical issues. Maryland environmental workers were also called to the plane accident crash site to clean up 100 gallons of fuel that spilled during the plane wreck. One wing of the plane clipped a delivery truck during it’s crash.