In terms of flying an airplane, takeoffs are usually routine matters. However, when a pilot makes a mistake and loses control of the aircraft, this routine task can turn catastrophic.
“Loss of control” is a type of aviation accident that is attributed to pilot error. At some point – either during takeoff, midflight or landing – the pilot made a physical or mental miscalculation and failed to maintain or regain control of the airplane. In general, such accidents are avoidable. It’s the pilot’s incorrect response that leads to the crash.
Four out Ten Plane Crashes are Loss-of-Control Accidents
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, almost 40 percent of all fatal aircraft crashesare loss-of-control accidents.
The Joseph T. Nall Report is an annual review of the nation’s aircraft accidents. It’s published by the Air Safety Institute, which is a pilot-focused organization designed to reduce general aviation crashes. The most recent report is for 2012. The report calculates that a pilot’s loss-of-control was the major factor in half of that year’s takeoff and departure accidents. About one-quarter of those accidents were fatal.
Common Pilot Errors During Takeoff
The FAA has identified the most common errors during takeoff. They include:
- A pilot’s abrupt use of the plane’s throttle
- A pilot’s failure to check the plane’s instruments after applying takeoff power
- A pilot’s failure to maintain proper lift-off altitude
- A pilot’s failure to attain and/or maintain proper climb airspeed
- A pilot’s improper use of the plane’s elevators during initial climb-out
Two recent rulings by the National Transportation Safety Board reflect the range of consequences when pilots make mistakes during takeoffs. One involved the aborted takeoff of a U.S. Airways airliner in 2014. The NTBS ruled that pilot error was the probable cause in that Philadelphia incident. None of the 149 passengers were hurt when the airliner bounced twice on the runway, collapsing the nose gear.
The other occurred in Wichita in 2014. It involved a smaller non-commercial plane. The pilot and three people on the ground were killed when, according to the NTSB, the pilot failed to respond correctly to an engine losing power during takeoff.
Often times the cause of a fatal airplane crash is not easily identifiable, or there can be multiple causes. If you had a loved one killed in an aviation accident, an attorney who investigates airplane accidents can determine who is responsible and pursue justice on your behalf.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.