The Miami Air International jet that slid into the St John’s River in Jacksonville last week was the fourth major air incident in the last 12 months. It was also the third involving a Boeing 737 airliner, although this plane was not a 737 Max 8, which was the model that was involved in two of the previous accidents, both involving multiple fatalities.
Is this a coincidence at a time when generally the rate of air traffic accidents has been on a steady decline for the last two decades?
The accounts of the four accidents, the two Boeing Max 8 crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, the recent Russian aircraft accident and the Florida accident don’t seem to be related, so there is probably hope that this is just a coincidence and a nasty blip in statistics. The facts behind each of the accidents, apart from the two Max 8 accidents which appear to be directly related, are quite dissimilar.
The Jacksonville accident
The Florida accident involved a plane that had been chartered by the U.S. military for routine flights to and from the U.S. base in Cuba at Guantanamo Bay. The 136 passengers on the plane were a mixture of civilian and military personnel. The accident happened as the plane attempted to land at the Jacksonville Naval Air Station in a thunderstorm. The plane appeared to slide out of control into the river where it was partly submerged. No-one was killed, although 21 passengers were taken to hospital for minor injuries.
The accident is still being investigated by officials from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Passengers reported that they felt the plane bounce as it hit the runway at Jacksonville before sliding into the river. The water level filled the cargo hold but didn’t directly affect the safety of the passengers who managed to evacuate by crawling along one of the plane’s wings.
The plane was not the same recent Boeing plane model as the ones that were involved in the much publicized Indonesian and Ethiopian air crashes that seemed to suggest that faulty software was to blame.
Is air travel becoming more dangerous?
Every plane crash sees innocent victims and bereaved families, so it might seem alarming that the fatality rate in the last year seems to have bucked a long trend towards a decreasing accident rate. Worldwide, the fatality rate dropped from 1,844 in 1996 down to just less than 60 in 2017. Because of the 2 Max 8 crashes and the recent Moscow crash, the fatality rate has again gone up to 561 in 2018 and 209 so far this year.
In the U.S., although there have been fatalities in crashes of personally owned and operated small aircraft, there were no commercial airline passenger fatalities between 2009 and 2018. In that year a female passenger was killed when an engine failure occurred on a Southwest Airline flight.
The Moscow accident
The recent Russian accident did not suggest any connection with the three Boeing accidents. The Sukhoi SSJ-100 plane experienced problems shortly after take-off at Moscow airport and attempted an emergency landing. The plane could not do what most large airplanes do and dump excess aviation fuel. The pilot obviously did not think that circling the runway until nearly out of fuel was an option and attempted a landing which proved to be disastrous. The fact that the plane was still full of fuel meant that when the plane burst into flames there was plenty to sustain the blaze which engulfed the plane.
The fact that many passengers were concerned about their bulky take-on luggage also compounded the evacuation of the burning plane. It has been suggested that if passengers had been prevented from trying to remove their luggage that there may have been fewer fatalities.
Ring an aviation accident attorney as soon as possible if involved in an aviation accident
Aviation accidents are declining worldwide, despite the recent carnage and despite big questions which have yet to be answered satisfactorily by Boeing. Because the number of people on any commercial flight is so large, a serious accident easily becomes headline news. Aviation accidents don’t just happen for no reason. There is always a reason why a crash occurs, whether it is pilot error, software or other aircraft component defects, or the design of the plane is faulty in some way.
Aircraft passengers have come to expect to travel safely while making a flight. If you, or a loved one, are involved in a plane accident and have been seriously injured, you may have good grounds to make a personal injury claim with the help of a dedicated aviation accident attorney. In Nashville, contact the Keith Williams Law Group at (615) 313-3999.