Aviation Accidents


“Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth

And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth

Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things

You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung

High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,

I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung

My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue

I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace

Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —

And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod

The high untrespassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.”

John Gillespie MaGee Jr.


Exponentially, the aviation industry has grown faster from a technological and scientific standpoint than any other area of transportation. Airline deregulation is upon us. More and more aircraft move more and more people faster and faster, both domestically and internationally, and the world has shrunk – dramatically.

Federal preemption of aviation regulation and the resulting bureaucratic complexities make “taking to the skies” a highly sophisticated and sometimes dangerous activity. No longer does one “slip the surly bonds of earth” to soar like a bird through the skies. Generally, depending on whether the flight is a domestic or international one, where the ticket was purchased, the nationality of the passenger, the applicability of international treaties, the place of manufacture of the aircraft, and the type of claim being made, are factors which could possibly determine the amount of available compensation to aggrieved claimants.And this is precisely why an aggrieved claimant should consult a firm capable of offering the best solutions available pursuant to law.

In 1987 a Northwest Airlines MD 82 series McDonnell Douglas aircraft crashed on takeoff at Detroit’s Metropolitan Airport killing 154 passengers on the plane and 5 on the ground. There was one survivor – a 4 year old girl. The NTSB probable cause statement is as follows: “The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the flight crew’s failure to use the taxi checklist to ensure the flaps and slats were extended for takeoff. Contributing to the accident was the absence of electrical power to the airplane takeoff warning system, which thus did not warn the flight crew that the airplane was not configured properly for takeoff.

On August 20, 2008, another MD 82 series aircraft operated by SPANAIR crashed on takeoff at Madrid’s Barajas International Airport killing 154 passengers and crew. The investigation revealed several startling similarities to the Northwest Airlines crash of 1987 in that the Spanair pilots not following their checklists, failed to extend the flaps and slats for takeoff. Once again, as in the Detroit crash, the TOWS (Take-off Warning System) failed to notify the crew that the aircraft was not in proper takeoff configuration. The pilots rotated and lifted off with insufficient airspeed to maintain flight, stalled the aircraft crashing back to the ground and eventually exploding in a horrific ball of flame.

At last count, there are still over 1100 MD series aircraft flying the world’s skies with the same defect. Boeing, which bought McDonnell Douglas, has yet to fix the problem and retrofit these aircraft with existing technology that would avert this type accident in the future.

Flying is still the safest mode of transportation if you consider the number of aircraft flying worldwide, the number of passengers transported daily, and the number of passenger miles flown. The planes are getting exponentially bigger with the advent of Boeing’s 777 (305 to 440 passengers), 787 Dreamliner (250 to 290 passengers), and Airbus’ 380 (500 to 550 passengers), all depending on configuration. Unfortunately, because humans sometimes commit errors, and coupled with failure of technology, there will be other catastrophic events involving these inordinately large aircraft – and should this happen, anyone aggrieved by injury or the loss of a loved one will want a law firm on their team that understands and is totally familiar with the complexities of investigating and litigating an aviation catastrophe, whether involving small general aviation aircraft or the commercial airliners.

Arthur J. Gonzalez is here to offer assistance, a shoulder to lean on, and to help one find the best solution in providing assistance to the families in a time of great need.

During my 30 years of practice I have assisted, and continue to assist many families who have lost loved ones in air crash disasters. Should a situation ever arise whereby a catastrophic event results from the negligent conduct of the flight crew, the failure of any aircraft component, or combination of both, you will want someone who not only understands the nature and complexities of the failures, but knows how to deal with these difficult matters in order to find the best solution for you and your family – at all times exhibiting compassion and diligence for the family – while exercising a firm and unbending hand to those responsible.