Small Plane Crash Highlights Bigger Problem

Small Plane Crash Highlights Bigger Problem

Posted By The Maher Law Firm || 31-Mar-2014

Aviation Accident Orlando

Recently, a small engine plane went down in Safety Harbor, killing the pilot and seriously injuring his daughter and teenage friend. While the cause of the accident is still under investigation, experts say more privately owned planes in the air means more small plane crashes, despite the majority of them being wholly preventable.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, this latest plane crash happened when Jeffrey Bronken decided to take his daughter and her best friend, both 15, to Florida for some sun and a break from the Chicago-area winter. They had made the trip before, but this would be their last together.

At about 4 a.m. on a Saturday morning, the plane went down. People living in the residential area said the power went out and a huge noise filled the neighborhood. The plane had hit powerlines as it came down, landing on its nose with its tail pointing into the sky.

Bronken died on impact. The two teens were rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa in serious condition.

Small engine plane crashes largely preventable

In a 2013 ABC News report, then-NTSB chief Deborah Hersman said that 97 percent of all plane crashes happen in general aviation, not commercial flights. She said that while domestic commercial airlines are safer than ever, small engine plane crashes occur on average around five times each day, accounting for some 500 deaths nationwide each year.

Rich Stowell, a pilot and flight instructor known as the "Spin Doctor" for his ability to come out of a nose dive, says that the pilots on small planes typically aren't trained how to recover from an emergency. They aren't given the basic lessons on how to overcome their anxiety and perform when the pressure is on.

Stowell's method of instruction includes putting these pilots through the wringer, teaching them to come out of dives, spins, and rolls caused by high winds and turbulence.

Fuel issues may have triggered Florida crash

The Federal Aviation Administration says Bronken radioed air traffic controllers that he was having fuel problems. He may have been trying to land in the street when the crash occurred. The plane clipped a 2-inch thick power line as it came in, possibly sending it straight into the ground.

Both the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are involved in the investigation.

Reports say Bronken's daughter's social media accounts have been filled with photos of her and her father with the plane over the past few years.

Pilots' "inattention to basics" blamed in many crashes

Crashes in private-pilot flights have risen 20 percent since 2000, coinciding with an 85 percent drop in commercial airline accidents. According to this Bloomberg report, some aviation experts say pilot inattention to basic flight safety protocols is often to blame. Overloading planes, failing to check weather in advance, or making simple in-flight piloting errors can prove fatal.

The solution isn't clear. Regulations already exist and Tony Fazio of the FAA's Office of Accident Investigation and Prevention says he believes the regulations are adequate and that pilots can't "crash an airplane" without breaking at least one of these regulations.

Instead, he surmises, better adherence to private-pilot practical test standards is needed. In other words, pilots simply need to be more vigilant and careful.

Categories: Aviation Accidents
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