Hidden Defects Linked to Small Plane Crashes

Business planeOver the last few decades, close to 50,000 people have died in helicopter and small plane crashes in the U.S. This is almost ten times the number of people killed in major airline crashes. In addition, thousands of people suffer serious personal injuries and need an airplane injury attorney for legal advice.

Crash Investigations

Typically, crash investigations by federal regulators point to pilot error as the cause, but recent findings show that small plane crashes are repeatedly caused by defective parts. According to a USA TODAY investigation, defects in small planes have been ignored for years, and manufacturers have hidden problems from the public and the federal government. The report shows that manufacturers repeatedly refused to recall dangerous, defective parts, leaving thousands of small planes vulnerable to aviation accidents.

Companies like Cessna Aircraft, Mitsubishi Aircraft, Lycoming Engines, and Precision Airmotive have been found liable for such accidents. In a Florida case against Cessna, the judge ruled that Cessna knew about a fatal defect for years and failed to repair it. Cessna was charged with a reckless disregard for human life. In another case in Iowa, three people were killed and one was seriously injured in a four-seater Piper Cherokee crash. With the assistance of an airplane injury attorney, the family of those killed brought a lawsuit against Lycoming Engines and Precision Airmotive citing defects in the plane’s engine and carburetor. Both companies blamed the pilot for the crash, but the trial revealed that Precision had received over 100 defective carburetor claims, and Lycoming knowingly continued to use the defective carburetors. The judge in that case ruled against Lycoming and Precision and awarded the family $19 million in damages.

Common Defects

According to the USA TODAY investigation, some defective parts remained in use for many years because manufacturers refused to acknowledge or recall them. The report also shows that many defective parts are still in planes today.

  • Faulty fuel tanks that explode and catch fire upon impact
  • Leaking exhaust systems that contribute to engine fires
  • Faulty de-icing systems that don’t warn pilots of dangerous buildup and fail to keep wings de-iced during flight
  • Pilot seats that slide backward unexpectedly

Over the years, defective parts have contributed to thousands of small plane crashes resulting in hundreds of millions in settlements to death and injury victims represented by an airplane injury attorney.