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Air Phillipines $165 Million

The largest loss of life from an airline crash in Philippine history has led to an unprecedented settlement in Illinois that could change the way old airplanes are leased to developing nations. [Read More…]

Jim Hall: Aircraft icing needs harder look

Thursday’s crash of a de Havilland Dash 8 Q400 in Clarence was deeply saddening. Fifty persons were killed in the tragedy, and the 2z-year period of fatality- free flying in commercial aviation was brought abruptly to an end.More tragic, this crash was foreseeable and likely preventable, if not for the preference of profit over safety in some of the aviation industry and for the lax oversight of the Federal Aviation Administration in its failure to adequately address known safety risks related to icing.

Initial reports strongly indicate that airframe icing played a major role in the crash of this turboprop aircraft. This type of occurrence is not without precedent. On Oct. 31, 1994, American Eagle Flight 4184 dropped from the sky when ice accumulated on its wings. It crashed into a soybean field in Roselawn, Ind., killing all 68 people onboard. On Jan. 9, 1997, Comair flight 3272 dropped from the sky over Monroe, Mich. when ice accumulated on its wings, killing all 29 people on board.

Like Thursday’s crash, both of these planes were turboprop-an Avions de Transport Regional 72 and an Embraer 120, respectively. Both aircraft were equipped with pneumatic deicing boots, a technology invented in the 1930s that has not changed much since.

As chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, I oversaw the investigation into the Roselawn and Monroe crashes. It became apparent that, while deicing boots are more fuel efficient than the heated wing technology that larger jets use, they are not as effective at reducing the risk of an icing accident.

Furthermore, the FAA is charged with overseeing the certification process of each make and model of aircraft, yet we found in our investigation that the FAA failed to ensure that this certification adequately accounted for hazards that can result from all known icing conditions. After our extensive investigation at Roselawn concluded, I signed the NTSB’s recommendations to the FAA regarding these issues.

More than 10 years later, the FAA has not adequately addressed these concerns, and the NTSB has placed safe flight in icing conditions on its “Most Wanted” safety improvements list.

The aircraft model that crashed Thursday was certified by the FAA on Jan. 26, 2000, and the accident aircraft itself was not manufactured until 2008-well after the Roselawn recommendations were issued and with full knowledge of the dangers that turboprops and deicing boots face in freezing conditions.

There was no move to incorporate the more effective (but more expensive) heated wing technology. What’s more, an airworthiness directive published by the FAA in 1996 notes that the earlier, 40-seat model of DHC-8 aircraft had an unsafe condition which could result in loss of control of the aircraft when flaps were extended during icing conditions-as they were in Thursday’s crash-and further that the autopilot should not be engaged in “severe icing conditions,” a vaguely defined term.

But because the FAA basically ignored the NTSB’s recommendation to adequately test aircraft in these conditions before declaring them airworthy, the certification of this new version of the DHC-8 went along without a hitch. The most substantial change to the new model was not related to safety: the aircraft was stretched to allow 78 passengers to be carried by the aircraft. In short, even in light of the Roselawn and Monroe accidents, safety was compromised so that these aircraft would be allowed to fly more people at cheaper cost.

In this instance, the FAA and the airline industry clearly placed a higher value on profit than on their passengers’ safety. Well-known risks were overlooked, well-documented recommendations were ignored. That this plane was allowed to fly in dangerous conditions for which it was not thoroughly tested and prepared, and without recommended safety measures and devices in place, demonstrates this.

This attitude must change. The NTSB should move quickly to identify any deficiencies and FAA should take the requested action, such as prohibiting this aircraft from operating in icing conditions until remedies are established. I hope this accident will finally cause the FAA and the commercial aviation industry to take icing risks seriously so that a tragedy such as this will not happen again.

Jim Hall, an attorney with Nolan Law Group, was chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board from 1994 to 2001.

Timeline of NTSB Icing Recommendations


October 31, 1994:Crash of ATR 72-212 (turboprop) at Roselawn, ID. 68 people were killed. American subsequently moved operations of ATR 72 to the Caribbean and southern U.S.

July 9, 1996: NTSB Aircraft Accident Report regarding Roselawn accident released. Probable cause was a “loss of control, attributed to a sudden and unexpected aileron hinge moment reversal that occurred after a ridge of ice accreted beyond the deice boots.”

August 8, 1996: NTSB Issues Safety Recommendations A-96-48 through A-96-69. Among these are Recommendations A-96-54 and A-96-56 which read as follows:

  • Revise the icing criteria published in 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Parts 23 and 25, in light of both recent research into aircraft ice accretion under varying conditions of liquid water content, drop size distribution, and temperature, and recent developments in both the design and use of aircraft. Also, expand the Appendix C icing certification envelope to include freezing drizzle/freezing rain and mixed water/ice crystal conditions, as necessary. (A-96-54

 

  • Revise the icing certification testing regulation to ensure that airplanes are properly tested for all conditions in which they are authorized to operate, or are otherwise shown to be capable of safe flight into such conditions. If safe operations cannot be demonstrated by the manufacturer, operational limitations should be imposed to prohibit flight in such conditions and flightcrews should be provided with the means to positively determine when they are in icing conditions that exceed the limits for aircraft certification. (A-96-56)

 

August 20, 1997: NTSB classifies the FAA’s response to A-96-54 and A-96-56 as “Open-Acceptable” after FAA created an Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) to develop certification criteria for the safe operation of aircraft in icing conditions.

1999: De Havilland Dash 8 Series Q402 receives type certification.

January 27, 2003: NTSB writes letter to FAA regarding the work of the ARAC, saying it is concerned about the “slow pace of the [the ARAC’s work].” The NTSB stated, “Although the FAA, through its referral of this work to the ARAC, is responding to these recommendations, the Safety Board remains concerned that in the 6 years since these recommendations were issued, the work has not been completed. The Board would like the FAA to provide a schedule for completion of the recommended actions.”

May 19, 2003: FAA responds to NTSB’s concern, stating that “The FAA will publish a notice of proposed rulemaking based on these recommendations by June 2004.”

November 9, 2004: After an NTSB meeting regarding “Most Wanted Recommendations,” NTSB classifies Recommendations A-96-54 and A-96-56 as “Open-Unacceptable.”

February 15, 2005: Cessna Citation 560, owned by Circuit City Stores, Inc. crashed in Pueblo, CO 4 miles east of Pueblo Memorial Airport. 8 people were killed. NTSB stated probable causes as: “the flight crew’s failure to effectively monitor and maintain airspeed and comply with procedures for deice boot activation on the approach, which caused an aerodynamic stall from which they did not recover. Contributing to the accident was the Federal Aviation Administration’s failure to establish adequate certification requirements for flight into icing conditions, which led to the inadequate stall warning margin provided by the airplane’s stall warning system.” (Emphasis added)

May 10, 2006: Two years after the FAA’s own deadline for action, the NTSB issued a statement again lamenting the lack of action: “There does not appear to have been any progress since the FAA previously informed the Board of the status of this recommendation on September 15, 2003.”

February 27, 2007: From NTSB update on FAA action regarding the Recommendations: “[T]he FAA has still not received the recommendations from [its working group studying deicing certification], prepared regulatory analyses, issued the NPRM, analyzed comments, or completed the many other tasks involved in issuing new regulations.”

April 16, 2008: Aircraft involved in Buffalo crash issued certificate of airworthiness.

February 12, 2009: Crash of de Havilland Dash 8 Q-402 (turboprop) outside of Buffalo, NY killed 50 people. Cockpit Voice Recorder indicated that crew mentioned significant ice buildup on windshield and leading edge of wings.

US Airways Flight 1549 Makes Emergency Landing in Hudson River

Accident Overview

On Thursday January 15, 2008, US Airways flight 1549 made an emergency landing in the frigid Hudson River after attempting to take off from Manhattan’s LaGuardia Airport. The plane, bound for Charlotte, N.C., took off at 3:26 p.m. eastern time. Less than a minute later, the pilot reported a “double bird strike” and radioed that he needed to return to LaGuardia. Air traffic controllers initially gave the pilot instructions to return to New York City’s LaGuardia Airport, but the pilot replied, “unable.” Teterboro airstrip in the northern New Jersey suburbs was also recommended, but the pilot again responded, “unable.”and that he was going into the river. Witnesses from nearby buildings watched the plane steadily descend into the icy Hudson for a splash landing on it’s belly. The aircraft didn’t bounce and came to a relatively fast stop. After the impact, the plane quickly became submerged up to its windows in the 36-degree water. It is believed that the plane encountered a flock of geese and that some of them may have flown into one or both of the jet’s engines.

 U.S. Airways flight 1549 In Hudson


Passengers and Crew

The plane was carrying 155 passengers, two pilots and three flight attendants. Everyone on-board was evacuated via life rafts and a flotilla of Coast Guard vessels, ferries, water taxis and tourist boats. Dozens of passengers stood on the aircraft’s wings until resuce craft could carry them to safety. There were 78 injuries reported in the crash including hypothermia, bruising and some broken bones.

 Rescue Flotialla


Preliminary Investigation

As of Friday January 16, 2008 National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration inspectors were on scene. Officials said the cause of the crash was under investigation, but initial reports suggested the plane may have hit birds after taking off. Federal investigators said the left engine of the US Airways jetliner was missing. The aircraft, was tethered to a pier on the tip of lower Manhattan on Friday — about four miles from where it touched down. Investigators will begin focusing on recovery of the missing engine and the black box. They also plan on interviewing the crew.


Aircraft Information

The aircraft involved in the accident was a Airbus A320 built in 1999 with registration number N106US.

Airbus A320 N106US.


Operator Information

US Airways operates hubs in Charlotte, Philadelphia and Phoenix and is the fifth largest airline in the United States. A member of the Star Alliance, it has a fleet of 353 mainline jet aircraft and 319 regional jet and turbo-prop aircraft connecting 200 destinations in North America, Central America, the Caribbean, Hawaii, and Europe.


Nolan Law Group Files Lawsuit on Behalf of the Parents of a 14-Month-Old Girl Killed in October 15th 2008 Medical Evacuation Helicopter Crash Near Aurora, Illinois


CHICAGO, Jan. 6 /PRNewswire/ — A lawsuit stemming from the catastrophic October 15, 2008 crash of an Air Angels EMS Helicopter near Aurora, Illinois was filed today on behalf of Robert and Brooke Blockinger, who suffered the tragic loss of their 14-month-old daughter Kirstin Reann Blockinger.

Kirstin Reann Blockinger was one of four individuals who was killed when the emergency medical evacuation helicopter bound for Children’s Memorial Hospital hit a radio tower and its supporting structure and crashed in the Chicago suburb of Aurora, Illinois.

The EMS helicopter which belonged to Air Angels Inc. was carrying a 3-person crew which included a pilot, a nurse and a paramedic, all of whom were employed by Air Angels Inc. Kirstin Reann Blockinger was being transported to Children’s Memorial for the purpose of receiving treatment for a medical emergency.

The crash of this Medical Services (EMS) Bell 222 Helicopter was the latest in a tragic wave of EMS helicopter accidents last year. The families of the four victims join dozens of others who mourn the loss of loved ones that have been killed in EMS Helicopters in the past months. Despite the long list of recent tragedies, however, there has been no change to the rules governing EMS safety — rules that are known to be flawed and insufficient.

“What makes this accident even worse is that is was preventable,” said aviation attorney Donald J. Nolan. “In February of 2006, the NTSB made safety recommendations which were largely ignored,” Nolan added. “Our hope is that this lawsuit will draw attention to this issue and help bring about industry change.”

Named in the suit are Air Angels Inc., Reach Medical Holdings Inc., and Richard D. Hoffman, as personal representative of the estate of Delbert Lee Waugh.

The complaint was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County and alleges that Kirstin Reann Blockinger’s untimely death was caused as a direct and proximate result of the defendant’s breach of duty of care.

The lawsuit also asserts that the defendants were responsible for exercising the highest and/or ordinary degree of care in the operation, maintenance, possession and control over the subject helicopter so as not to cause injury and further specifies the following acts or omissions by defendants:

— Negligently and carelessly failed to require and provide two pilots for operation of subject flight

— Negligently and carelessly failed to equip the subject helicopter with a proper and adequate Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TWAS)

— Negligently and carelessly failed to provide proper and adequate time and information to the pilot for flight planning

— Negligently and carelessly failed to keep sage and proper separation between the subject helicopter and existing tower hazard

— Negligently and carelessly failed to provide proper and adequate flight following measures

— Negligently and carelessly operated, controlled and equipped and maintained the subject helicopter in particulars to be determined through the course of discovery

Robert Blockinger and Brooke Blockinger have been appointed co-special administrators to their daughter’s estate and, as such, are seeking personal and pecuniary damages, including but not limited to, loss of society, love and companionship for the loss of their daughter in a sum in excess of the minimal jurisdictional limits of the Cook County Circuit Court.

In early February of 2009, there will be public hearings regarding the safety of EMS helicopter operations. Nolan Law Group and the Blockingers are planning to attend.

Nolan Law Group is a Chicago-based personal injury law firm concentrating in aviation accidents, construction accidents, brain injury litigation, medical malpractice, premises liability, product liability, and trucking accidents.

Continental Flight 1404 veers off runway

Accident Overview

On Saturday December 20, 2008, 38 people were injured when a Continental Airlines Flight veered off course about 2,000 feet from the end of the runway and caught fire. Continental Flight 1404 was attempting to take off from Denver International Airport for Houston around 6:20 p.m. Firefighters found the Boeing 737 on fire, with its wheels sheared off, resting in a ravine about 200 yards from the runway.

Continental Airlines Flight 1404


Passengers and Crew

105 people on board had to be evacuated via emergency chutes. Thirty-eight people suffered injuries including broken bones, and two were in critical condition with fractures.


Preliminary Investigation

National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration inspectors were on scene on Sunday Decemper 21, 2008. They will analyze everything from the skid marks on the runway to the flight data recorder and could take as much as year or more before issuing a final report. However, an initial advisory from the agency said that strong, gusty wind was blowing about the time Flight 1404 was taking off. So far investigators haven’t found any problems with the Boeing 737-500’s engines, brakes or wheels, but they haven’t ruled anything out.

Continental Flight 1404 Wreckage


Aircraft Information

The aircraft involved in the accident was a Boeing 737-500 with registration number N18611. The aircraft was built in 1994 for Continental and at the time of registration was listed as being capable of carrying 104 passengers. No prior incidents reagarding that aircraft have been reported.

Boeing 737-500 N18611


Operator Information

Continental operates flights to destinations throughout the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific regions. It has more than 3,000 daily departures, serving 151 domestic and 120 international destinations and has 42,200 employees. Principal operations are from its three hubs at Newark Liberty International Airport (in Newark, New Jersey), George Bush Intercontinental Airport (in Houston, Texas), and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (in Cleveland, Ohio).


Passengers escape burning jet in Denver; 38 hurt


DENVER – Firefighters said it was like something out of a movie – passengers emerging from a smoke-filled ravine where the remains of a Boeing 737 lay in flames, its landing gear and left engine shorn off.

Denver Fire Department Division Chief Patrick Hynes called it “surreal.” The fire burned the entire right side of the plane, and melted plastic from overhead compartments dripped onto the seats below.

Thirty-eight people suffered injuries including broken bones, and two were in critical condition with fractures after the Saturday evening accident, officials said.

Passenger Mike Wilson of Denver described a chaotic scramble to leave the burning plane on updates he posted on Twitter.com from the airport using his cell phone.

“By the time the plane stopped we were burning pretty well and I think I could feel the heat even through the bulkhead and window,” he wrote. “I made for the exit door as quickly as I could, fearing the right wing might explode from the fire. Once out, I scrambled down the wing.”

The 107 passengers and five crew members made it out through slides, and firefighters put out blaze quickly, said airport spokesman Jeff Green.

By P. SOLOMON BANDA, Associated Press Writer

Air Angels Helicopter Crash in Aurora Illinois

Accident Overview

On Thursday October 16, 2008, four people, including a 13-month-old girl, were killed when a medical evacuation helicopter crashed in the Chicago suburb of Aurora Illinois. The helicopter was bound for Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago on its way from Valley West Hospital in Sandwich when it went down minutes before midnight. According to eye whiteness reports the helicopter crashed in a field near a residential area in east Aurora and was engulfed in flames.

Air Angles Wreckage


Passengers and Crew

The helicopter was carrying a 3 person crew which included the pilot, a nurse and a paramedic employed by Air Angles. A 13-month-old girl was also onboard and was being transported to the hospital due to epileptic seizures.


Preliminary Investigation

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were at the scene shortly after the crash. Authorities believe that the helicopter may have clipped a radio tower wire before it crashed and burned. Officials are also considering that there may have been problems with the flight before it hit the radio tower because it was flying so low; under normal conditions, the helicopter should not have been flying low enough to hit the tower or its support wires.


Aircraft Information

The helicopter involved in the accident was a Bell 222 rotorcraft with registration number N992AA.

Bell 222 Helicopter N992AA


Operator Information

The helicopter belonged to Air Angels Inc., an emergency medical transport service based at Clow Airport in suburban Bolingbrook. The Aurora crash is the third involving Air Angels helicopters in the past fiver years. In January 2003, an Air Angels helicopter crashed killing the pilot. Investigators determined pilot error and weather caused the accident. Mechanical problems were blamed for an August 2007 crash in which there were no injuries.

Air Angels announced on October 16, 2008 that it was suspending all operations pending investigation of the crash


American Law Firms File Claim Against The FAA And Seek Discovery On Behalf Of Family Of Aeroflot Plane Crash

CHICAGO – American law firms, Nolan Law Group and Ribbeck Law Chartered, today filed a Petition for Discovery in the state court in Chicago arising from the Boeing 737 crash of Aeroflot-Nord Airlines in Perm, Russia on September 14, 2008. The petition was filed on behalf of Aleksey A. Afanasenkov, Sr., whose son perished in the crash, and seeks documentation and information concerning the individuals or companies that may be responsible for causing the crash.

Additionally, the law firms asserted a formal claim on behalf of Mr. Afanasenkov against the United States Federal Aviation Administration for its failure to properly regulate U.S. training institutions which provided training to the crew of the accident airplane. The US-Russian treaty entitled “Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation for the Promotion of Aviation Safety” entered into force on September 2, 1998. Under the treaty, the U.S. government agreed that the FAA would monitor, among other things, aviation training establishments in the United States providing training to Russian pilots in accordance with the standards, rules, practices, general procedures and Implementation Procedures established pursuant to the treaty.

While the investigation of the crash is ongoing and no probable cause determinations have yet been made, the circumstances of the crash have highlighted the dangerous shortcomings in the training of pilots accustomed to Eastern-built aircraft transitioning into operation of Western-built airliners. It futher highlights the need for proper oversight in the FAA airworthiness certification process of transport category airplanes.

It was previously reported by the airline, Aeroflot-Nord, that the captain of the accident airplane received training in the 737-500 at a U.S. based training institution in 2006, and had 452 hours as pilot-in-command of this model airplane. The first officer began flying the 737-500 airplane earlier this year and had only 219 total hours in the model airplane. Both pilots had spent the majority of their careers operating Russian-built aircraft which have some significant technical differences in cockpit instrumentation from Western-built aircraft such as the Boeing 737.

For further information on this news item please contact Thomas J. Ellis, Director of Litigation Support, Nolan Law Group, 20 North Clark Street, 30th Floor, Chicago, Illinois 60602. Office: (312) 630-4000; Mobile (312) 493-3349 or e-mail: tje@nolan-law.com

Spanair MD-80 Plane Crash in Madrid Spain

Accident Overview

On August 20, 2008 at 2:45 GMT, Spanair flight number JK5022 crashed while taking off from Madrid’s Barajas Airport. The McDonnell Douglas MD-82 registration number EC-HFP was bound for Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and using runway 36L. Initial reports indicate that 153 people perished in the crash.

Spanaii Madrid Crash Site


Passengers and Crew

The jet was carrying approximately 172 passengers and 6 crew members bound for Las Palmas during the height of Europe’s summer vacation season. Twenty-two children and infants were listed on the passenger manifest. Nineteen people are reported to have survived the crash. Lufthansa reported that it had issued codeshare tickets to seven people and that four of them were from Germany. Canary Islands official said passengers included Swedes and Dutch. Sweden’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that two Swedes were onboard the aircraft.


Preliminary Investigation

The National Transportation Safety Board will be sending a team of investigators to Madrid, Spain, to assist the Spanish Civil Aviation Authority in the investigation of the accident in which a Spanair MD-80 (Spanish Reg. EC-HFP) crashed on take-off. The U.S. team will also include technical advisors from the FAA, Boeing, and Pratt & Whitney. NTSB Acting Chairman Mark V. Rosenker has designated senior air safety investigator John Lovell as the U.S. Accredited Representative; four other NTSB technical specialists will accompany him.


Aircraft Information

The airplane involved in the accident in Madrid was a 15-year-old McDonnell Douglas MD-82. The MD-80 family was designed by McDonnell Douglas in the 1970s as the successor to its DC-9 line and entered service in 1980. The engines on the plane were manufactured by Pratt & Whitney, a unit of U.S. conglomerate United Technologies Corp. Boeing bought McDonnell Douglas in 1997, and the last of the MD-80 family rolled off its production line in 1999.

Mcdonnell Douglas MD-82


Operator Information

The McDonnell Douglas MD-82 was operated Spanair S.A. The Airline is based in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, and is subsidiary of Scandinavian Airlines Systems. It provides a scheduled passenger network within Spain and Europe, with an extension to West Africa. Its main base is Son Sant Joan Airport (PMI), with hubs at Barajas International Airport (MAD), Madrid and El Prat International Airport (BCN), Barcelona.