Aircraft Accidents Due to Mechanical Failure

Aircraft Accidents Caused by Mechanical Failures | Patrick Daniel Law
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Accidents involving planes, helicopters, and other aircraft are often disastrous. For every “Miracle on the Hudson” there are many more situations where pilots, passengers, and even people on the ground are seriously injured or killed.

Pilot error is one of the most common causes of aviation accidents. This issue was at the heart of a recent crash that captured international headlines: the 2020 helicopter accident that killed NBA star Kobe Bryant, his teenage daughter, and seven others onboard the aircraft.

Mechanical failure is another leading cause of accidents involving all types of aircraft, from small planes to commercial airliners. In fact, failed and faulty parts have played key roles in some of the worst air disasters in history.

If you have been injured or lost a family member in an aircraft accident, thorough investigation is crucial to pinpoint the cause and hold the liable party or parties accountable. The aviation accident lawyers at Patrick Daniel Law have extensive experience with a wide array of complex litigation. Please contact us in Houston for a free case review.

What Mechanical Failures Lead to Aviation Accidents?

Modern aircraft are wonders of engineering. Complex parts and systems enable air travel that was unthinkable a century ago.

As with any aspect of modern life that relies on technology, however, the failure of components on aircraft can have catastrophic consequences. Though not all mechanical failures cause crashes, passengers and crew may be seriously injured when one or more parts of the aircraft stop working properly.

Failures involving the following components and systems can lead to aviation accidents:

Engine and Powerplant Failures

The powerplant is the part of the aircraft’s engine that converts air into thrust. Some airplanes use a piston engine or turboprop in conjunction with a propeller to generate thrust, while jets use turbine engines.

When the powerplant stops working, the engine(s) of the aircraft may fail. Potential issues with the powerplant may include:

  • The propeller or turbine stops rotating
  • The turbine or propeller is damaged
  • An oil leak in the engine decreases performance of the powerplant

As with many scenarios in aviation, both the maintenance of the aircraft and its operation by the crew are crucial for ensuring the proper function of the powerplant and engines.

Fuel System Failures

Like with any vehicle, aircraft engines need fuel to operate. Multiple issues may affect the fuel system, including leaking fuel, failure of the fuel pump, and more.

Sadly, it is not uncommon for aviation accidents to happen because the aircraft runs out of fuel. Errors on the part of the pilot and crew may be to blame for such a glaring oversight, but it is also important not to overlook less obvious causes such as malfunctioning fuel gauges.

Landing Gear Failures

Malfunctioning landing gear can spell disaster for aircraft on takeoff and landing. A host of issues may cause the landing gear to fail, including:

  • Wear and tear on the wheels, tires, axles, and other parts
  • Leaking hydraulic fluid
  • Damaged or malfunctioning hydraulics
  • Malfunctions in the locking mechanisms
  • Jamming of the wheels

Human error may cause or exacerbate the failure of an aircraft’s landing gear. Pilots are trained how to employ landing gear when taxiing, taking off, and landing. Mistakes during any of these processes can increase the risk of accidents.

Instrument Failures

The instruments of an aircraft relay critical information to the pilot and flight crew. Although errors in looking at the instruments – such as failure to check speed, elevation, fuel and oil levels, etc. – are common issues in aviation accidents, failure and malfunction of the instruments themselves may be a factor as well.

In many cases, malfunctioning instrumentation creates a vicious circle that ends in tragedy. Faulty readings may cause the pilot and crew to take improper action in the course of the flight. Acting on inaccurate information can then lead to additional mechanical failures, such as stalled engines, which in turn can lead to accidents.

Some operations on aircraft, meanwhile, are automated by in-flight computers. Flaws in the software that monitor and even control functions such as speed, angle, flap position, and more may cause the aircraft to make sudden, violent corrections that can injure passengers and, in extreme cases, cause the aircraft to crash.

Failure of the Structure of the Aircraft

The design and manufacturing of aircraft are subject to a wide range of federal regulations. The fuselage, landing gear, wings, empennage, and other components must meet rigorous standards for airworthiness.

Unfortunately, errors in designing the aircraft, the manufacturing of its parts, and the assembly of the craft can result in structural weaknesses and decreased performance. Left unchecked, these problems can increase the risk of accidents affecting multiple units in a family of aircraft.

One of the most extreme consequences associated with the failure of or damage to the structure of the aircraft is uncontrolled decompression. Decompression of the cabin may occur suddenly or gradually. The loss of pressure can limit the oxygen in the cabin, potentially resulting in brain injury and loss of consciousness. If the flight crew is rendered unconscious, the aircraft may crash.

Who Is Liable for Mechanical Failures on Aircraft?

Manufacturing and design errors are a common feature in product liability claims. If a defective part or component caused the aviation accident, the manufacturer, the seller, and other parties responsible for the faulty product can be sued.

Commercial airlines, shipping companies, sightseeing tours, and other businesses own and operate aircraft. If the negligence of a pilot or other crewmember hired by the business was a factor in the accident, both the employee(s) and the employer may be liable.

Mechanical failures may also occur due to negligent maintenance of the aircraft. This responsibility may fall on the owner of the aircraft (an individual, a commercial business, etc.) or fault may be shared with a third-party company hired to inspect the aircraft and perform repairs.

The importance of thorough investigation after an aviation accident cannot be overstated. Contacting an experienced attorney is the best way to find out what caused the accident, determine who is liable, and pursue fair compensation.

Contact an Aviation Accident Lawyer Today

Ultimately, flying an aircraft is a complex interplay between humans and machines. For this reason, establishing fault for an aviation accident is complicated.

The victims of airline disasters, helicopter crashes, and other accidents involving aircraft often face immense losses. Legally, a number of challenges stand between them and recovering the damages they are owed.

At Patrick Daniel Law, our attorneys are Strategic, Meticulous, and Merciless. We carefully examine all of the facts in your case, gather crucial evidence, and enlist the appropriate experts to build an effective strategy for winning your claim. Our goal is to explore every avenue for achieving a favorable outcome on your behalf.

Please call Patrick Daniel Law at (713) 999-6666 today for a free review of your case. Our aviation accident lawyers serve clients in Houston, all of Texas, and nationwide.

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