What is a Fatal Loss of Control Aviation Accident?

There are three leading causes of fatal plane crashes:

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the agency responsible for safe air travel in this country, “loss of control” is the number one cause of U.S. general aviation accidents, which kill about 450 people each year.

The FAA reports that one fatal aviation accident involving a pilot’s loss of control happens every four days. Between 2001 and 2011, pilots losing control of their aircraft caused more than 40 percent of the nation’s fatal fixed wing general aviation crashes. The dangers and frequency of loss-of-control plane crashes are such that the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board put preventing them on its 2015 “Most Wanted List.”

And a pilot’s loss of control is reputed to be the number one cause for fatal commercial airplane crashes around the world.

What is a Loss of Control Aviation Accident?

So what is a loss-of-control aviation accident?

According to the FAA, loss-of-control aviation accidents are “… accidents resulting from situations in which the pilot should have either maintained or regained control of the aircraft, but did not.”

Fatal crashes attributed to pilot loss of control are often a result of a pilot’s failure to respond correctly to an “unexpected event.” These events are emergency situations that arise quickly and require proper action to protect the safety of passengers and crew. They include:

  • Loss of engine power
  • Landing gear that don’t retract or won’t extend prior to landing
  • Bird strikes
  • Wind shears or other abrupt changes in weather conditions

Fatal Airplane Stalls

Unexpected events may lead to a plane’s unintentional stall. If not properly adjusted for, an aerodynamic stall – especially at low altitudes where corrective measures are limited – can be catastrophic.

So what can be done to prevent fatal loss-of-control airplane crashes? The FAA is calling for better training of general aviation pilots, explaining that their required level of flying skill and knowledge is generally much lower than commercial aviation pilots. General aviation pilots also typically fly less frequently and have longer times between training sessions than their commercial counterparts.

The FAA, in its 2015 call to prevent loss-of-control aviation accidents, notes that general aviation pilots should be better able to understand the conditions for a stall, anticipate a stall, and then apply appropriate recovery measures to prevent the stall from occurring.

As with all fatal airplane crashes, it can be challenging to determine exactly what went wrong and why in fatal aviation accidents attributed to a pilot’s loss of control. Therefore, if you had a family member killed in a plane crash, you may want to seek the legal counsel of an attorney experienced in investigating aviation accidents, who can uncover all pertinent details and factors.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.