October 12, 2010

Missouri man killed in skydiving accident

Jonathan Bullar, 24, a Missouri resident, was killed Saturday evening after falling thousands of feet in an Illinois skydiving accident.

Investigators are still looking into the cause of the fatal accident, but at the moment, they believe the death was an accident caused by an apparent parachute malfunction.

The tragedy happened in Vandalia, Illinois. The skydiving company Bullar was using is called Archway Skydiving.

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim.

A couple years ago, the FAA released a study on the number of skydiving accidents around the country. In the 28 years from 1980 to 2008, there were about 200 deaths associated with a skydiving jump out of approximately 3 million total skydiving trips. Perhaps the most surprising fact revealed in the study was the vast majority of these deaths, 172 to be exact, were caused by airplane accidents on the way to the jump zone and not the actual act of jumping and deploying the parachute. Only 30 deaths resulted from parachute malfunction or skydiver error.

While the risks of jumping out of a plane are obvious, the statistics seem to indicate that it is a relatively safe sport so long as all proper safety procedures are followed, particularly those having to do with with plane maintenance and pilot procedures. Hopefully the cause of this most recent accident can be uncovered so that future fatalities and injuries can be prevented.

October 7, 2010

Missouri plane crash claims one life

Kathy Collins, a resident of Springfield, Mo., was killed and two others were injured in a Missouri small plane crash as the aircraft was attempting to land at a Springfield airfield.

Many details, including the type of plane and cause of crash, have yet to be revealed by investigators, but there are some facts being reported by local media. The plane, which was believed to be piloted by Coby Cullins, crashed during its landing descent. Witnesses near the crash site rushed to the wreckage to try and pull survivors from the plane and were successful in rescuing at least one of the passengers from the smoldering cabin. Rescue crews quickly arrived to help.

Cullins and another passenger, Thelma VanHooser, were taken to St. John's Hospital for emergency treatment. VanHooser's injuries were described as being more serious, according to the Springfield News-Leader.

This early into the investigation it is impossible to know what caused the crash. NTSB investigators have taken the wreckage from the crash site to try and identify whether or not there was some sort of mechanical failure.

A full report of this fatal airplane accident might not be available for weeks while investigators try and piece together the cause of the crash.

September 11, 2010

FAA proposes new pilot schedule regulations

The Federal Aviation Administration is looking to change regulations regarding pilot schedules as a way of reducing both pilot fatigue and the risk of a serious plane crash.

Some of the proposed changes include:

-Pilots can only spend a maximum of 13 consecutive hours on duty, including time between flights in airports. The current maximum is 16 hours.
-The maximum on duty hours for pilots flying overnight shift would be reduced to 9 hours.
-Airline schedules would have to give nine hours rest for pilots between work days, which is an increase from the current eight hours.

If approved, these would be the first changes to pilot scheduling regulation in two decades.

This proposal comes just two years after motor carrier regulations were changed and the hours of service for truck drivers were reduced in an effort to prevent tractor trailer crashes.

As with the changes to the trucking laws, the same arguments are being made on both sides of the pilot scheduling debate. Airlines are worried about how the new regulations will affect profits due to the fact that they will likely need to hire more pilots or reduce the number of flights to comply with the rules. Regulators acknowledge there will be an adjustment period, but argue that the increases in safety will benefit the industry overall.

September 9, 2010

Two dead in plane crash near Missouri border

Joseph Ross, 62, and his son, Michael Ross, 32, were killed when their plane crashed near the Missouri-Arkansas border.

According to local media reports, the pair were flying from Danville, Ill. to Austin, Texas when the fatal airplane accident occurred. The plane lost contact with ground radar stations, but did not send out a distress signal. A witness on the ground later came upon the crash site, which was about 90 miles north of Little Rock, and contacted emergency response crews.

First responders were on the scene in minutes, but the plane was in flames when they got there.

Investigators are now trying to determine what caused the Missouri plane crash. It is not known which of the two on-board were flying the plane at the time of the crash. Reports suggest that it began to rain around the time of accident, but it is not known whether this contributed to the incident.

The plane they were flying was a 1982 Cessna T-210.

Joseph Ross was the owner of United Flight Services, a training and rental company located in Watsonville. This is the second crash to connected to the business as last month a Piper Cherokee from the company crashed near the Sierra Nevada mountains.

July 9, 2010

Pilot injured after Missouri plane crash

One man was injured in a Missouri plane crash involving an agricultural aircraft in Chillicothe.

The pilot, whose name has not yet been released, was able to walk to a farmhouse and call for help after his plane crashed just outside the municipal airport of Chillicothe. He was just taking off in a G-164 biplane when he encountered problems and crashed the plane upside-down in a field.

The pilot was taken to the hospital but his injuries were not considered life threatening.

No word yet on what caused this Missouri airplane injury accident.

Earlier this year in Arizona, there was another crash involving a G-164 which had problems during takeoff. In that case, the NTSB concluded that a power failure kept the plane from gaining altitude and it ran off the end of the runway.

June 16, 2010

Missouri couple killed in plane crash

Orlan Kellenberger, 64, and his wife, Mary Kellenberger, 64, were both killed in a fatal plane crash in Iowa as they attempted to fly back to their Missouri home.

According to local media, the couple had been visiting West Bend, Iowa and were taking their Beechcraft A36 Bonanza home when it lost power and crashed. Orlan Kellenberger was flying at the time of the crash.

The FAA is investigating the incident to try and determine why the single engine prop plane suddenly crashed. Results of the investigation may not be available for weeks.

Our thoughts are with the family of the victims. If the investigation of this deadly plane accident determines that there was a mechanical problem, hopefully the information gathered can be used to fix any potential problems in other aircraft and save lives.

The Beechcraft Bonanza line is one of the most popular personal aircraft models in the world. Its popularity means that the plane has also seen its share of high-profile crashes. The notorious "Day the Music Died" crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper and their pilot, Roger Peterson, involved an older model of the Beechcraft Bonanza. Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Randy Rhoads and television host Peter Tomarken were also killed in Bonanza crashes.

Despite these notable incidents, the plane usually receives high marks for safety with most crashes blamed on pilot error. The only recurring problems seem to revolve around the landing gear, but there's no indication a landing gear malfunction was involved in the Kellenberger crash.

February 23, 2010

More details emerge about fatal St. Louis area plane crash

More specifics about Sunday evening's deadly St. Louis area plane crash are beginning to emerge, including the names of the victims.

Authorities have tentatively identified the victims as former head of the Missouri Division of Commerce and Industrial Development, Donald Estell, 65, and Robert Clarkson, 68. The identifications are being labeled as tentative because they are based on circumstantial evidence until genetic testing can confirm them definitively.

Estell, an experienced pilot, was flying the plane according to the flight records. Records also show that the flight left Vero Beach, Fla. an hour later than scheduled.

According to an Associated Press report, officials say they plane encountered a light rain just before they were supposed to land in the St. Louis area, but that the weather shouldn't have been a serious factor for an experienced pilot like Estell.

Officials from the FAA and NTSB will continue to investigate the cause of the crash, though a full report on the fatal crash might take months.

February 21, 2010

Plane bound for St. Louis crashes; two passengers believed dead

Photo by St. Louis Post Dispatch
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A small private airplane that was bound for St. Louis Downtown Airport crashed Sunday evening into a Belleville home several miles short of the runway. Two people were believed to have been on board the plane. There were no survivors, according to authorities.

According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch report on this St. Louis area plane crash, the plane had left from Vero Beach, Fla. and was scheduled to land at St. Louis Downtown Airport around 6:30 p.m. The plane was a single-engine Piper Meridian based at Downtown Airport and registered to a Clayton company, according to the Post Dispatch.

The plane began to dive and witness reports state that the plane was making whining noises as it dove towards the home of John and Mary Elliott in the Aero Estates development. Thankfully, nobody was home at the time of the crash.

The plane crashed into a hanger attached to the home that housed two planes and an antique car. Flames quickly spread from the hangar to the house, which was completely destroyed.

Names of the victims have not yet been released.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the crash. It was raining and foggy at the time, though no indication has been made that weather contributed to the fatal plane crash.

In 2007, there was a Missouri plane crash also involving a Piper Meridian. In that incident, the wings separated from the body of the plane in mid-air causing the plane to crash. The Piper Meridian has also been the target of concerns over the nose landing gear which reportedly caused several planes to turn hard uncontrollably upon landing.

June 26, 2009

Three Missourians killed in Arkansas plane crash

Photo from Baxter Bulletin
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A Chesterfield, Missouri man, his son and another teenager were killed Friday when their five-passenger plane crashed during takeoff from a grass airfield in Arkansas.

The pilot was Warren Langford, 52 and his son was Brendan Langford, 15. Both were pronounced dead at the crash site. Jacob Ritz, 15, was taken to Baxter Regional Medical Center in Mountain Home, Arkansas where he was also pronounced dead.

Two others, Donald Beckerle, 43, and his son, Joshua Beckerle, 15, were injured and taken to the hospital for treatment. Joshua Beckerle’s injuries were considered very serious, but his current condition was not available, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

The plane they were flying was a Piper Cherokee Lance owned by Propaire Inc., a St. Louis based company. The Piper Cherokee Lance is a small, single-engine plane designed to carry five to six passengers. It has a range of 1000 miles. According to the Post Dispatch, Langford and the others had flown down to an Arkansas resort earlier in the week and were taking off for their trip home when the fatal plane crash occurred.

According to witnesses in the Baxter Bulletin, the plane was tilting back and forth as it tried to take off. It then crashed through a fence at the end of the runway before hitting some trees.

Federal Aviation Administration officials are investigating the deadly plane crash, but no cause has been released yet.

FAA and NTSB investigators will look into the various mechanical and structural problems that could have contributed to this crash. If it turns out that negligence on the part of Piper Aircraft Company or Propaire Inc. contributed to this incident, the families of those onboard may be able to hire an aviation accident lawyer to help recover damages. These investigations can be long, complicated and difficult processes, especially in the case of a fatal accident, but they are important to help make sure a similar accident doesn’t happen in the future.

The Piper PA-32R line of aircraft, which includes the Cherokee Lance involved in the Arkansas crash, has been at the center of a couple high profile incidents. In 1999, John F. Kennedy Jr. and two others were killed when a Piper Saratoga, a variant of the Piper PA-32R, crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. A 2008 Piper Saratoga crash in Ohio claimed the life of Michael Connell, a communications and technology expert for leading Republicans including George W. Bush, John McCain, and Karl Rove.

January 2, 2009

Illinois plane crash kills two

Photo from Chicago Tribune
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Two people were killed in a plane crash on Thursday at an airport near Joliet, Illinois.

Authorities have identified the victims as Stuart Seffern, 50, and Deborah Loiselle, 52. They were flying a small, single-engine Lancair 360 plane and apparently crashed trying to land at Joliet Regional Airport. Since the airport is uncontrolled, pilots land without communicating with the ground and no distress calls were received by radio.

FAA and NTSB officials are investigating the crash to determine exactly what went wrong and whether the crash was the result of pilot error or a mechanical failure.

Lancair planes are smaller and typically purchased in kits for home assembly. Some of the main fuselage sections come pre-assembled from the Lancair Company, but everything else, including cockpit instrumentation, is assembled by the plane’s owner. This particular plane was originally owned by the Lantzair Flyers Club, of which Sefferen had been president, but was later purchased by Sefferen and a friend.

There were clear skies around the airport at the time of the crash and officials doubt the plane could have struck power lines or trees as the airport is in the middle of large clearing.

Local news outlets are reporting that witnesses have called in saying the plane burst into flames in mid-air as it approached the runway. These reports have not been confirmed by officials.

A series of other recent Lancair crashes prompted investigation by FAA officials, NTSB officials and personal injury attorneys. The NTSB reports that there have been 122 Lancair crashes in the U.S. since 1989 resulting in 92 deaths.

The report does state that despite the home assembly of most of the planes, pilot error rather than mechanical failure was to blame in a majority of the crashes.

Still, anybody involved in a plane crash should contact an experienced aviation accident lawyer to discuss their rights.

September 16, 2008

Missouri plane crash launched investigation into skydiving industry

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The National Transportation Safety Board released a special report Tuesday that identified numerous safety issues with the skydiving industry.

The report was in response to several recent tragedies across the country involving malfunctioning parachutes and poorly maintained planes used to launch the parachutists. One of these incidents was a 2006 plane crash in Sullivan, Mo. that killed six people.

According to the report, while public perception is that the jump is the most dangerous part of skydiving, a large percentage of the accidents were the result of improper plane maintenance, lack of pilot training, and inadequate FAA oversight and surveillance.

Approximately 3 million parachutists fly every year. Since 1980, 172 people have been killed in airplane accidents unassociated with the actual jumping and deploying of the parachute. Parachute malfunction or skydiver error during the jump only accounted for 30 deaths during that same span.

The Sullivan crash that prompted the investigation was also detailed in the report. In that incident, a de Havilland DHC-6-100 plane, operated by Skydive Quantum Leap, crashed shortly after takeoff. The NTSB determined that the probable cause was the pilot’s failure to maintain airspeed after losing power in the right engine.

The Board recommends more safety restraints within skydiving planes as well as more comprehensive pilot training and FAA surveillance. Many of the pilots involved lacked necessary training to spot potential mechanical failures.

All skydivers accept the risk associated with their sport every time the go in the air. This does not mean, however, that skydiving companies are free from all legal obligations to ensure a safe flight and jump. Improper plane maintenance and pilot error are unacceptable and are the leading causes of plane tragedies in Missouri.

If you would like more information about personal injury law as it relates to aviation, visit our website. If you have specific questions about your case, contact us at E. Ryan Bradley.

July 11, 2008

Cause of Fatal Plane Crash Released

Updating a story that we have been following, the cause of the plane crash that killed two pilots near Kansas City has been released. The official cause of the crash was dual engine power loss.

The National Transportation Safety Board released an accident report on Thursday that outlined the details of the crash. The plane had been on training exercises and had made stops in Topeka and Lawrence before heading to a “practice area” for maneuvers. The Aero Commander then did a series of sharp turns at low altitudes when the engine power failed.

Murray Brown, 47, and James Jambor, 24, who were the pilots on board, apparently tried to land the plane in the Leavenworth County field where they crashed. The landing gear was down and the flaps were at an approach setting, but the plane hit the ground at a too severe 53-degree angle.

Both men were pronounced dead at the scene.

July 9, 2008

Two Injured in Missouri Plane Crash

Photo from KY3 News / Mark Parent
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Two people were injured Sunday morning when their aircraft failed to successfully take off and ran over the end of the runway at Taney County Airport.

The owner and pilot of the plane, Gary Grandpre of Crete, Illinois, was taken to Skaggs Health Center in Branson along with his wife, whose name was not released, according to a KY3 report. Both suffered moderate injuries. Their children, who were also in the plane, were uninjured.

The plane, which was a Cessna Skymaster, appeared to lose power during takeoff. Witnesses say the plane was briefly airborne before falling back to the runway and blowing out a tire. The aircraft skid over 800 feet and off the end of the runway.

The FAA will look into the cause of this incident and whether a mechanical error was to blame.

This is the second Skymaster crash in the past month. In June, a Cessna Skymaster went down off the coast of Maine, killing both the pilot and a passenger. That crash is still under investigation.

Some pilots have commented on the unique design of the Skymaster and how it may be more difficult to fly if you are not used to it. If an engine loses power, it is very had to maintain control of the aircraft and glide it to a safe landing.

E. Ryan Bradley handles Missouri and Illinois aviation matters including jet and prop planes, as well as helicopter cases. If you have any questions regarding your aviation case, contact us for a free consultation.

June 26, 2008

Plane Crash Near Kansas City Kills Two

Photo by KQTV, St. Joseph
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Murray Brown, 47, and James Jambor, 24, were killed Tuesday when their twin engine Aero Commander plane crashed in Leavenworth, Kansas shortly after taking off from a downtown Kansas City airport, Kansas Highway Patrol said.

Both men were pronounced dead on the scene. Brown and Jambor were the only passengers on board.

The plane was owned by Central Airlines, a cargo shipping company with 36 twin engine planes in their fleet. A statement released by the company said Brown, who had 20 years of experience as a pilot, was doing a training exercise with Jambor when the plane went down.

While the cause of the crash is not yet known, the Aero Commander model has been under scrutiny from the FAA over safety concerns in the past. According to a Civil Aviation Safety Authority report, senior FAA officials met with engineers in the mid 90’s to examine concerns over the Aero Commander’s wings, which seemed to be prone to cracking from stress fatigue. This wing instability was believed to have caused several fatal crashes.

The Aero Commander model in the Kansas crash was built in 1971, according to the patrol report.

FAA and NTSB officials will no doubt look into the wing stability as well as countless other possibilities as they investigate the cause of the crash. These investigations are extremely important as they can reveal mechanical defects that can be corrected in other aircraft so that similar crashes can be avoided.

E. Ryan Bradley handles aviation matters, including jet and prop planes as well as helicopter cases. If you have any questions about these types of cases, please contact us.

May 26, 2008

Missouri Helicopter Crash Sunday Evening at Lake of the Ozarks Kills Eureka Boy; Similar MD-500 Crash Occurred Years Earlier Near Guam

On May 25, 2008, a MD500E helicopter crashed around 7:20 p.m. in Sunrise Beach, Missouri within Camden County. The helicopter was landing at a lakeside residence after a short sightseeing tour around the Lake of the Ozarks, when it suddenly spun out of control and barrel rolled into the water. Five people were on board, including 9-year-old Zachary West of Eureka, Missouri, who died in this tragic crash. Divers recovered his body at 10 a.m. the following day trapped inside the wreckage.

Four others, including the pilot, escaped as the MD-500 helicopter rolled into the water. The pilot was identified as Keith Baker, 50, of Sunrise Beach, MO. His passengers included his son, Nick Baker, 13, along with his friend Michael Barth, 13, and Anna Bierman, 24, of Macks Creek, MO. Each of them jumped from the helicopter after it hit the water and swam to shore.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the accident. The MD-500 helicopter is manufactured by McDonnell Douglas and is considered a light helicopter, largely used in the civilian sector and modeled after the military Hughes chopper.

An eerily similar incident occurred in 1997 near Guam when the cyclic trim switch malfunctioned in an MD-500, which caused the pilot to lose control of the helicopter and barrel roll into the water. In that incident, one of the two passengers was killed. It was determined the helicopter's cyclic trim switch was field modified and this is what caused the crash. Interestingly, this switch was the subject of a mandatory service notice for MD-500s in 1994, requiring replacement of the trim switch due to reports the switch was sticking. However, the switch was a non-repairable item, which called into question why the switch was taken apart. The NTSB cited operator failure to comply with the safety bulletin and flying with an equipment discrepancy as the causes of the Guam crash.

In the Lake of the Ozarks crash, it is expected the cyclic trim switch will be looked at to determine if it played any role in this crash. The pilot will undoubtedly be the best source of what went wrong and will be able to point investigators in the right direction.

In aviation cases, it is extremely important to determine the cause of each and every accident so it does not happen again.

E. Ryan Bradley handles aviation matters, including jet and prop planes as well as helicopter cases. If you have questions about these types of cases, please contact us.

December 20, 2007

Illinois Airplane Crash and Accident Lawyer: Airplane Crash in Springfield, Illinois Kills 3 Men

A V-tailed Bonanza passenger airplane crashed near Springfield, Illinois in Sangamon County today. The four seat aircraft was attempting to land at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport, when it crashed approximately a hundred yards from the Farmingdale Road and Highway 54 intersection.

At this time, authorities say at least three men were killed in this Illinois airplane accident. Initially, it was thought a fourth man was in the airplane, however no other victim has been found. Nobody on the ground was reported to be injured.

The names of the victims has not been released and it is not yet apparent if they have been identified. State police and the FAA responded to further investigate.

When the victims are identified, we will update the blog.

Witnesses indicate they saw the airplane looping towards the ground. This often times indicates something went wrong with the aircraft. The FAA will conduct an investigation and determine the cause of the crash.

November 7, 2007

Airplane Crash in Labelle, Missouri Kills Man; Wrongful Death Product Liability Case Could Potentially Be Filed by Lawyers

A Missouri pilot and his passenger were killed in an airplane crash near Labelle, Missouri. Stevens Walker, 71 was the pilot of the Zodiac 601XL, an all metal "kit airplane", manufactured by Zenith Aircraft Co. According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, the plane crashed nose first into a field. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have not yet released their determination of why the plane went down.

Here is a picture of what the plane looks like, according to the manufacturer's web site:

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At this point, it is unclear whether there would be a viable Missouri product liability case for the family's lawyer to file against the airplane company. If investigators find the kit plane was defectively designed, then a product liability claim for airplane design defect may be viable. However, if the reason the plane crashed was because of some failure to properly assemble the plane, then a lawsuit would probably not be viable.

If you or a loved one have been involved in an airplane crash and believe you may have a claim, contact us at E. Ryan Bradley to discuss your case for free.