Safety Should Be Every Airplane Designer and Mechanic’s Top Priority

Most people know, at least in theory, that passenger airplanes are the safest way to travel. Outside of this often-quoted statistic, however, aviation still has a reputation as an incurably dangerous pursuit.

It’s true that operating any aircraft requires a great deal of skill and training. The dangers should not be taken lightly, and no one should ever take the controls while impaired or underqualified in anyway. Unfortunately, overestimating the inherent danger of flying can also harm plane crash victims, their families, and aviation safety in general.

When a non-passenger airplane crashes, there’s a tendency to assume that the pilot failed to meet the challenges of flying, or that something unavoidable went wrong. Flying is difficult and dangerous, after all, and people will often accept that as a complete explanation.

Whenever a plane of any size crashes, the investigation should always go deeper than that. At a minimum, it should look into when and how the plane was built, modified, and serviced, and whether anyone failed in their duty to put safety first during that process.

The Plane That Crashed in Paulding County Was Reportedly “Sputtering” in the Air

On the afternoon of November 8th, 67-year-old Raymond K. Hicks took off from Stockmar Airport in his Mooney M20F, a small, single-engine airplane. Not long afterwards, the plane went down for currently unknown reasons.

Although Hicks hit the woods in Paulding County, missing a nearby development and avoiding on-the-ground casualties – possibly thanks to his final efforts – Hicks himself was killed in the crash.

The witness who called 911 described seeing the plane sputtering before spiraling downward, suggesting that Hicks may have encountered engine trouble before his death. The crash is still under investigation by the FAA, and there’s no word yet on when the Mooney was last serviced, or what exactly caused it to fail.

Small plane wrecks like this one are surprisingly common in Georgia. Two similar accidents happened in DeKalb County over the course of the previous month, one of them killing four people.

Not one of these incidents should be allowed to pass without having its causes thoroughly studied and addressed.

Assumptions About User Error Help Flawed Designs Stay on the Market

Piloting is a serious responsibility, but so are plane design and maintenance. The companies that perform these less visible tasks hold lives in their hands, and over time, their failures can often end up causing much more damage than a single pilot’s mistake.

Chalking up plane crashes to pilot error without adequate evidence not only harms the pilots and their families, it allows negligent manufacturers and maintenance companies to avoid scrutiny and carry on with business as usual, instead of making life-saving changes.

That’s why it’s so important for crash survivors, and the families of the deceased, to pay attention whenever FAA investigations show the possibility of mechanical factors outside the pilot’s control. In these cases, the best way to follow up and push for full, accurate accountability is usually a personal injury or wrongful death suit.

When a manufacturer or maintenance company is at fault, civil law is the most powerful tool available for compensating survivors and incentivizing future safety improvements.

If you are a member of Raymond K. Hicks’s family, or if you have otherwise been injured or lost a loved one to a mechanical failure on an aircraft, reach out to the product liability lawyers at The Stoddard Firm today.

Attorney Matt Stoddard

Matt Stoddard is a professional, hardworking, ethical advocate. He routinely faces some of the nation’s largest companies and some of the world’s largest insurers – opponents who have virtually unlimited resources. In these circumstances, Mr. Stoddard is comfortable. Mr. Stoddard provides his strongest efforts to his clients, and he devotes the firm’s significant financial resources to presenting the strongest case possible on their behalf. Matt understands that his clients must put their trust in him. That trust creates an obligation for Matt to work tirelessly on their behalf, and Matt Stoddard does not take that obligation lightly. [ Attorney Bio ]

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Safety Remains an Issue for Even the Most Trusted Small Aircraft Companies

Small airplanes, built for personal or private business use, currently account for a staggering majority of aviation accidents. The rate of crashes and fatalities for commercial airlines doesn’t even come close to comparing with the rate for small, private planes. The FAA and NTSB are quick to blame small plane crashes on pilot error. However, an independent investigation in 2014 found that ...