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Current Aviation Litigation Cases

Current Aviation Litigation Cases

Ongoing Litigation – Southwest Airlines Flight 100

On April 24, 2015 a Boeing 737-800 being operated as Southwest Airlines flight 100 experienced sudden cabin depressurization while on route from McCaran International Airport in Las Vegas Nevada to General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee Wisconsin.  At the time of the depressurization event, the aircraft was flying at a cruise altitude of 37,000 ft and pilots were forced to perform an emergency decent.

As a result of the incident, Nolan Law Group’s client suffered injuries including but not limited to bilateral tympanic membrane perforation with resultant otitis media and hearing loss.  The aforesaid injuries have caused Nolan Law Group’s client to incur unnecessary medical expenses and experience mental and physical pain, disability, disfigurement, loss of a normal life and a loss of earnings.

The lawsuit against Southwest Airlines, Hamilton Standard Corporation and The Boeing Company alleges that these corporations breached their duty of care by negligently and carelessly placing the aircraft into the stream of commerce with a cabin pressure control panel which was improperly manufactured and installed. It also suggests that the corporations named in the suit failed to provide adequate instructions, maintenance and warnings of the known defective nature of the planes cabin pressure system causing pilots to improperly assess the extent on an in-flight malfunction. The lawsuit is seeking judgment in excess of the minimal jurisdictional amounts of the Law Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.


Ongoing Litigation – Marco Island landing overrun

On March 1, 2015, at approximately 4:15 EST, a Bombardier CL-600-2A12, registered and operated by Six Hundred NP, LLC, experienced a landing overrun and subsequent collapse of the nose landing gear at the Marco Island Airport (MKY), Marco Island, Florida. The airplane sustained substantial damage and two passengers were injured.

The flight was relatively uneventful until the crew attempted a landing on runway 17. After the initial touchdown the pilot was unable to extend the ground spoilers and noticed that there was little deceleration after applying the brakes. The pilot then attempted to deploy the thrust reversers in order to slow the aircraft which also did not work. The pilot informed the co-pilot there was no braking energy and in another attempt to slow the aircraft released the brakes, turned off the anti-skid system and re-applied the brakes by pressing hard. The pilot still did not feel any deceleration, and again tried to deploy the thrust reversers, but was unable. The crew began modulating the brakes and adding right rudder causing the airplane to veer off the end of the runway collapsing the nose landing gear.   After finally coming to rest in the sand, an emergency evacuation was ordered, and the plane’s engines were secured.  Suffering from severe neck and back injuries Nolan Law Group’s client was taken to the hospital by ambulance where doctors performed a CT scan.


Air Asia 8501- Airbus Crash in the Java Sea Indonesia

On December 28, 2014, an Airbus A320-216, crashed into the Java Sea killing all 155 passengers and the seven crew members on board. The flight was a scheduled international passenger flight operated by AirAsia Group, from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore.

Initial reports suggested that the plane encountered severe weather conditions causing the aircraft to go into a steep high speed climb, followed by a high altitude stall. It is believed that two flight augmentation computers failed, resulting in a loss of the autopilot and a failure of the rudder limiter system causing pilots to lose rudder and yaw control.  Evidence supports that Airbus, Doric Corporation, Honeywell, Motorola, Hamilton Sundstrand Corporation, GE Aviation Systems, LLC, Goodrich Corp. and Thales group Inc. all breached their duty of care and all bear some responsibility for negligently designing, manufacturing, assembling and selling the accident aircraft or components and software within the accident aircraft to AirAsia, ultimately contributing to the planes fate.

Analysis of flight data has revealed that the accident aircraft’s radar did not provide complete and accurate weather information, that the pilot tubes and angle of attack sensors were blocked or obstructed providing erroneous information, and that the accident aircraft’s ice detection system failed to detect and warn of accumulation of ice in certain parts of the aircraft.  Other reports have indicated the accident aircraft’s rudder trim limiter was subject to failure, causing an uncommanded pitch of the accident aircraft, and one of the accident aircraft’s rudder trim limiter had failed prior to the subject crash.  Airbus and the other corporations responsible for building the aircraft may have also failed to provide proper and adequate training to flight crews of AirAsia as to the proper and safe operation of the accident aircraft and, specifically, negligently failed to train such flight crews in recovery from high altitude stalls and in the proper procedures to be followed in the event of a failure of the FAC’s and/or the rudder limiter.

The crash of AirAsia Flight 8501 is one in which more than 75 persons died, and as such, the action will ultimately be governed by Multi-Forum Multi-Jurisdiction Act, 28 U.S.C. §1369. Airbus and all of the other corporations responsible for building the accident aircraft or components and software of the accident aircraft all do business in Illinois to sufficiently subject them to the jurisdiction of the courts of the state. Illinois courts would have subject matter jurisdiction over any actions that arise under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.


Ongoing Litigation- Delta Airlines Flight 1864

On August 17, 2014 a Boeing MD90, Aircraft being operated by Delta Airlines as Flight 1864 with scheduled services from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (KMSP) to Reagan National Airport (KDCA) was taxiing for departure. The pilot was instructed to hold short of the runway and had to break suddenly for exiting traffic near the taxiway. The plane subsequently had to return to the gate due to injury reported to a flight attendant. The flight attendant sustained multiple injuries to her entire body including but not limited to traumatic brain injury and spinal cord contusion.


Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash

On July 17, 2014 a Boeing 777-200 operated by Malaysia Airlines from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed about 50 km (31 mi) from the Ukraine–Russia border near Torez in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine. All 283 passengers onboard including 80 children and 15 crew perished in the crash.  Data from the aircrafts cockpit voice recorder, flight data recorder and air traffic control all indicated that flight MH17 was proceeding as normal until 13:20:03 (UTC), until after which the flight ended abruptly. No signs of any technical faults, warning tones or any emergency situations were indicated on any of the flight data recordings.

Initial accident analysis conducted by the Dutch Safety Board pointed towards an external cause of the MH17 crash, suggesting that a large number of high-energy objects may have penetrated the aircraft from the outside. The pattern of wreckage on the ground indicated that the aircraft split into pieces during flight. U.S. intelligence officials have attributed the downing of Flight MH17 to missiles fired from separatist-controlled Ukrainian territory.  Many western nations believe that the plane was hit by a Russian-supplied SA-11 missile fired by pro-Russian rebels. The Russian government, has denied all allegations that it supplied any missile launchers to the rebels and has instead suggested a Ukrainian military plane flew within firing range of the airliner just before it came down. The Ukrainian government has vehemently rejected these claims. In July of 2015 the Malaysian government called on the U.N. to create an international tribunal to seek justice in the case of Flight 17. One of the purposes of such a tribunal would be to ease the process of calling witnesses and arresting suspects in various jurisdictions around the world. The proposed resolution won broad support, including from the Netherlands, whose citizens made up the majority of people killed on that flight.

Malaysia Airlines has also taken significant criticism since the crash leaving many to wonder why flight MH17 was flying over eastern Ukraine, which had been the setting of a low-intensity war for several months. Aviation safety authorities in the United States and Europe warned pilots back in April of 2014 about potential risks flying in or near Ukraine airspace. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued a “special notice” regarding Ukrainian airspace advising airlines to “exercise extreme caution due to the continuing potential for instability.” International aviation agencies in April also had warned pilots and airlines to avoid the Ukrainian airspace.  . It is believed that like a number of other carriers, Malaysia Airlines had been continuing to use the route because it was shorter, which means less fuel is used and saved the airline money.  All air operators around the world have since imposed a no fly-zone over Ukraine.


On-going Litigation – Cirrus Aircraft Inc and First Class Flyers LLC. – Bahamas Stall/Spin Accident

On Sunday November 10, 2013, at approximately 10:56 am local EST, a fixed wing single engine, Cirrus 22 aircraft, N432BC crashed shortly after takeoff from Grand Bahama International Airport. This was the second flight of the day for the aircraft as it was conducting sightseeing tours operated by First Class Flyers LLC. The pilot and all 3 passengers on board at the time of the crash were killed. ATC controllers on duty at the time of the accident made visual contact of what appeared to be an aircraft in the shallow waters approximately 5 miles from the tower. The accident site was located approximately 5 miles north of Grand Bahama Island, in a tidal region with water depths ranging from a low tide of 3 feet to a high tide of 5 feet.  The subsequent accident investigation indicated that the aircraft entered an unrecoverable stall/spin and due to the low altitude and sudden loss of control the aircraft experienced, survival of the occupants was impossible. The aircraft was equipped with a (Cirrus Airframe Parachute System CAPS) which was observed to have not been deployed. During the on-site wreckage examination, it was noted that the CAPS safety pin was found still in the handle. The safety pin is supposed to be removed before flight for the CAPS system to function properly. Failure to remove this pin would make it significantly more difficult to deploy the system in an emergency.  Cirrus Aircraft Inc. has recommended recurrent training that includes CAPS deployment scenarios as an area of focus every twelve months. The company has publically stated that CAPS is about more than just pulling a handle, “It takes training and a safety-first mindset to make CAPS deployment an instinctual act in situations where loss of control has occurred”.


Plaintiff v. United Airlines Inc.- In-flight Medical Emergency

On September 10, 2013 while on board United Airlines flight 1283 from George W. Bush International Airport in Houston Texas to Ontario Regional Airport in Ontario California, Nolan Law Group’s Plaintiff’s decedent suffered a cardiac arrest among several other medical events which required immediate and appropriate assistance/medical attention. As a direct an proximate result of the breach of duty of care by United Airlines Inc. the Plaintiff’s decedent failed to receive proper first aid and treatment within the most critical window of time to prevent cerebral hypoxia and additional serious injuries leading to the Plaintiff’s decedents untimely death.

As a result, a wrongful death claim has been brought by Nolan Law Group on behalf of the Plaintiff’s decedent against United Airlines Inc. for failure to provide the appropriate level of medical assistance, equipment and attention. The complaint, which has been filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois alleges that United Airlines Inc. breached their duty of care by negligently and carelessly providing inadequate medical equipment aboard the aircraft which prevented the crew from administering proper medical assistance.  The complaint also alleges negligence on the part of United Airlines for failing to provide proper instruction and training to the crew on the proper use of emergency medical kits; which ultimately lead to an untimely implementation of an onboard defibrillator and pressor drugs resulting in the deprivation of oxygen to the decedent’s brain and other vital organs. The lawsuit further states that United Airlines Inc. failed to relay vital medical information to pilots, dispatchers/air traffic controllers and exercise authority to land the aircraft at the nearest suitable airport and instead made an “Air Return” to Houston which caused a delay in necessary lifesaving treatments by EMT’s or emergency room personnel.

The complaint contains a survival action stating that prior to death, the decedent was caused to suffer multiple and diverse injuries of a personal and pecuniary nature. The lawsuit is seeking damages including but not limited to, conscious pain and suffering, loss of a normal life and reasonable medical expenses.


Ongoing Litigation – Gregory Raymond Walther, Tumbleweed Leasing Co, Inc. and Upper Limit Aviation

On July 8, 2013, at about 8:20 MDT, a Robinson R22 Beta II, N712U, collided with mountainous terrain in a wilderness area near Alta, Utah. The helicopter was registered to Tumbleweed Leasing Co, Inc., and was operated by Upper Limit Aviation, Inc. The helicopter, which was equipped with a Lycoming O-360-J2A, 145 BHP engine was totally destroyed during the accident. The flight instructor and a private pilot undergoing flight instruction each sustained multiple and diverse injuries.

The flight departed Heber City Municipal Airport – Russ McDonald Field, Heber, Utah, about 800 MDT, with a planned destination of Salt Lake City International Airport, Salt Lake City, Utah. The private pilot who was undergoing instruction reported that for the return flight, the flight instructor decided to take a more direct route, overflying the mountain peaks east of Salt Lake City.

The flight was normal and routine until the private pilot who was controlling the aircraft began a descent down the back side of the ridge, during which time the private pilot began to raise the “collective” in order to lower the descent rate.  As soon as he did this, the rotor speed began to decay, and the low rotor rpm warning sounded.  The flight instructor lowered the “collective” again and applied power, however rotor speed continued to decay. This cycle continued two more times, and as the helicopter approached the ground, the flight instructor applied “aft cyclic control” in an effort to reduce forward speed. A few seconds later, the main skids struck rocks, and the helicopter tumbled coming to rest at an elevation of about 9,700 feet.

In a Lawsuit filed by Nolan law Group in the Third Judicial District Court in the City of Salt Lake City, County of Salt Lake and State of Utah against Gregory Raymond Walther, Tumbleweed Leasing Co, Inc. and Upper Limit Aviation, defendants are said to have breached their duty of care to by failing to operate maintain and control the Helicopter or over mountainous terrain in conditions which exceeded the helicopter’s ability to maintain terrain clearance and was outside the operational limits prescribed by its manufacturer. The suit also alleges that the defendants exhibited gross negligence by carelessly and recklessly training instructors on the operational limitations of the helicopter and by providing improper flight instruction to students of aforementioned operational limitations

The suit seeks damages for future pain and suffering, past and future medical costs, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of future earnings.


On-going Litigation Asiana Airlines Flight 214

On July 6, 2013 a Korean registered Boeing 777-200 operating as Asiana Airlines Flight 214 struck a seawall on final approach to San Francisco International Airport (SFO). There were 291 passengers on board the aircraft at the time of the accident.  Three passengers were killed and several of the flight crew and other passengers suffered serious injuries.  The aircraft, which struck a perimeter Seawall of the Airport while attempting to land at low altitude and low air speed, on approach broke apart at the tail and was destroyed by impact forces and a post-crash fire. The impact forces, which so exceeded certification limits resulted in the inflation of two slide/rafts inside the cabin, injuring and temporarily trapping two flight attendants. Six occupants were ejected from the aircraft during the impact sequence (two of which died on the scene) and as the fire spread through the fuselage five passengers had to be extricated by firefighters (one of whom later died).

The lawsuit, which has been filed in the United States District Court of Northern California by Nolan Law Group, alleges negligence on the part of Asiana Airlines Inc., The Boeing Company, Air Cruisers Company LLC, and Zodiac Aero Evacuation Systems a subsidiary of Zodiac Aerospace. The suit suggests that the crash was a result of reckless inattention and errors by inadequately trained Asiana flight crew in combination with dangerous design defects and shortcomings with auto flight modes, low airspeed warning systems, safety harnesses and emergency evacuation slides.

As a matter of no small importance, Nolan Law Group was able to have the case heard in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California citing that the venue was proper due to a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred in the Northern District of California. And because defendants are subject to personal jurisdiction in the Northern District of California and have sufficient contacts because they do business and/or commerce in California.  The firm also established that the California court has subject matter jurisdiction as this case involves a dispute between the Plaintiff, a United States citizen, a California resident, a passenger with a destination of California, and/or a passenger who entered into the contract of carriage in the United States, and Defendants, corporations based in South Korea, France, the State of Illinois, and the State of New Jersey and the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional minimum of this Court.  Subject matter jurisdiction is also determined pursuant to the laws and treaties ratified by the United States, including the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air (“Montreal Convention”) Asiana Airlines Inc. as a signatory to the Montreal Convention via the International Air Carrier Transportation Association (“IATA”) Intercarrier Agreement on Passenger Liability which specifically removes limitations on damages.

The complaint maintains that Asiana negligently operated, maintained, controlled, equipped, and/or piloted the fateful aircraft, including failing to provide passengers in Economy Class with the same robust seat restraint systems as those in Business Class.  It also suggests that Asiana failed to properly hire, train, and/or monitor its pilots to assure they had the required skill and experience to safely land their aircraft at all airports in which Asiana did business.  The legal filing asserts negligence on the part of The Boeing Company for designing, manufacturing and distributing a faulty auto-throttle control system, inadequate auto-throttle warnings, ineffective low-speed warnings, and/or lap-only seat belts in sections of its aircraft and goes on to detail Boeing’s failure to adequately train, notify, monitor, supervise and/or update pilots to fly the Boeing 777-200ER; and/or warn Asiana of concerns Boeing knew or should have known about the unfitness of Asiana pilots to fly the Boeing aircraft.  The lawsuit further alleges that Air Cruisers Company LLC, and Zodiac Aero Evacuation Systems a subsidiary of Zodiac Aerospace caused further injuries to the passengers by providing emergency evacuation slides which opened in the cabin injuring  passengers and crew or failed to operate or open forcing many passengers and others to jump and fall into wreckage and onto the tarmac.

The suit prays for judgment against the defendants and seeks damages for economic and non-economic losses suffered by the Plaintiff including past and future medical expenses, future loss of earnings and earning capacity, loss of personal property and personal effects and a loss of consortium.


Plaintiffs v. The Boeing Company, et al. (National Airlines Flight 102)

On April 29, 2013, a Boeing 747-400 aircraft being operated as National Airlines Flight 102 between the British military base Camp Bastion in Afghanistan and Al Maktoum Airport in Dubai, with a refueling stop at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan crashed moments after taking off from Bagram, killing all seven people on board.  The aircraft involved was a Boeing 747-428BCF, originally manufactured in 1993 as a passenger aircraft and then later modified by Boeing for service as a cargo freighter. At the time of the crash, the aircraft was flying on behalf of the United States Air Force Air Mobility Command. The subsequent accident investigations determined that the plane was carrying five large military vehicles which were inadequately restrained. This led to at least one vehicle moving rearward, crippling key hydraulic systems and damaging the horizontal stabilizer components, which rendered the airplane uncontrollable.

As a result, wrongful death claims were brought by Nolan Law Group on behalf of the families of 5 crewmembers employed by National Air Cargo Group who were killed in the crash. The complaints, which were filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois allege that Boeing, the company who originally manufactured and altered the aircraft, ultimately assembled a defective product, not fit for its intended purposes and was unreasonably dangerous. The court filing alleges that the aircraft was outfitted with a defective Cargo Handling System with insufficient attach points and structural strength and that the weight and balance manuals that came with the plane, failed to limit the practice of transporting high density rolling vehicles.

The complaint also puts forth several counts of product liability and negligence on the part of AAR Manufacturing Inc. individually, and Telair International Inc. and its subsidiaries as well as National Air Cargo, the company operating the aircraft at the time of the accident, citing the numerous ways the companies breached their duty of care by negligently and carelessly designing, manufacturing, overhauling, repairing and assembling an aircraft with a defective Cargo Handling System and inadequate instructions and warnings for transporting of heavy vehicles.

The Plaintiffs are seeking substantial personal and pecuniary damages including but not limited to, conscious pain and suffering, pre-impact terror, loss of society and companionship, loss of economic support, grief, sorrow and mental anguish.


Plaintiff v. National Air Cargo Inc., et al. (National Airlines Flight 662)

On October 12, 2010, a Hercules L-100 aircraft being operated as National Airlines Flight 662 crashed into a mountain approximately 16 miles east of Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan killing all 8 individuals on-board. The Plane went down shortly after take-off from Bagram Air Field in what was described as clear weather conditions. The Aircraft was loaded with supplies for NATO forces and was carrying 6 Filipino contract crew members.

As a result of the accident, wrongful death claims were brought by Nolan Law Group on behalf of the families of 6 crewmembers contracted by National Air Cargo who perished in the crash. The complaint, which was filed in United States Federal Court alleged that Transafrik International, the company who owned the Aircraft and National Air Cargo Inc. and all of its subsidiaries breached their duty of care by negligently and carelessly procuring and providing an aircraft for use in air commerce that was not in an airworthy or safe; And that both companies failed to require and/or provide specific training, proper crew pairing, and appropriate navigational aids to the flight crew.

The complaint also alleges negligence on the part of Midwest Air Traffic Control Service Inc. for failing to provide proper instruction and warning to the crew of National Airlines Flight 662 indicating that the aircraft was below the minimum safe altitude for the area and that the plane wasn’t maintaining proper separation between the surrounding terrain. The lawsuit further states that Midwest Air Traffic Control Service Inc. failed to inform National Airlines Flight 662 of discrepancies between actual altitude indications available to the controllers and the reported altitude from the flight crew which would have indicated that Flight 662 had a defective or a malfunctioning transponder.


Plaintiffs v. the Boeing Company, et al (TANS Peru Flight 204)

On August 23, 2005, about 2010 universal coordinated time (1510 local time) , a Boeing 737-200, Peruvian registry OB-1809-P, operating as Aerolinea Transportes Aereos Nacionales de Selva (TANS) Peru flight 204, was destroyed when it impacted trees and swampy terrain while approaching Captain FAP David Abenzur Rengifo Airport (PCL), Pucallpa, Peru. The captain, first officer, 2 flight attendants and 40 passengers were fatally injured. One additional passenger was missing and presumed fatally injured. Two flight attendants were seriously injured, and 53 passengers incurred minor to serious injuries. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and the flight was operating on an instrument flight rules flight plan from Jorge Chavez International Airport (LIM), Lima, Peru, to Pucallpa. The scheduled passenger flight was conducted under Peruvian flight regulations.