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The March 9, 2019 crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 that killed 157 passengers and crew is the second accident involving a Boeing 737-Max 8 aircraft within the past 5 months. In October 2018, a Lion Air Boeing 737-Max 8 crashed in Indonesia, killing all 189 passengers and crew on board. Litigation has begun in the Lion Air crash, and we are actively investigating cases related to this disaster.

About the Boeing 737 Planes & Crashes

Both the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air airplanes were recently placed into service. The Ethiopian Airlines 737 – Max 8 entered service only last year. As the 737 Max 8 began airline service in 2017, it is one of the newest airplane models flying throughout the world.

There are similarities between the two crashes. Both occurred shortly after takeoff and at low altitudes, and the flight crews wanted to return immediately to the departure airports. In addition, both aircraft appeared to be experiencing irregular flight patterns by climbing and descending at low altitudes before the pilots lost control.

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Posted on in Aviation Law

Products liability law protects consumer's rights when a manufacturer fails to properly design or manufacture a product, or fails to warn about dangers associated with the product. The legal system allows to individuals who seriously or fatally injured by a defective and hazardous product to recover compensation. The product may be as small and simple as a child's toy, a component in a car (for example, airbags or defective brakes), the drugs or medications prescribed by a physician, or involve a large and complex product such as a commercial airliner.

A recent example of a potentially hazardous product arises out of the recent Lion Air crash of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. This accident is raising serious concerns about the aircraft's systems and training materials provided to airlines that operate this airplane. As the 737 MAX 8 began airline service in 2017, it is one of the newest airplane models flying throughout the world.

This is not a photo of Lion Air aircraft involved in the Oct. 29, 2018 accident, but is a photo of a similar aircraft.

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Posted on in Aviation Law

A tragic accident occurred on April 17, 2018 aboard a Southwest Airlines 737 flight to Dallas, Texas. With no forewarning, a jet engine fan blade dislodged from its hub. That free blade acted like "shrapnel", creating a hole in the plane's side, and causing a window to break. Sadly, a passenger was sucked toward and partially through the hole where the window had been. While other passengers came to her assistance, the female passenger ultimately died as a result of her injuries. The Southwest pilot safely landed the plane, sparing disaster for the rest of the passengers, although others were injured.

Accidents like this are very rare. At first glance, most people will assume that Southwest Airlines is responsible and "liable" for these injuries and the devastating loss suffered by this woman's family. However, in an accident like this, allocating fault and determining who is responsible requires a detailed investigation.

The engine was designed and manufactured by someone other than Southwest Airlines. If there was a defect in either the design, or a flaw in the process by which the engine was manufactured, then that entity will have responsibility here as well. Still further, the actual fan blade itself could have been manufactured by a company different from the engine manufacturer. If the fan blade was either designed or manufactured defectively, the fan blade company would also have liability. In addition, the engine and fan blades are surrounded by an outer casing, called a nacelle, that should have contained the fan blade and prevented it from piercing the aircraft fuselage and passenger window. The nacelle manufacturer might also bear responsibility for this unfortunate event.

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If you or a loved one is severely or fatally injured in an airplane crash, who is responsible?

Airplane crash survivors can suffer devastating injuries that could have life-long effects. Husbands, wives, children, parents, and siblings of individuals who are fatally injured in aviation accidents suffer overwhelming emotional and financial losses.

Airplane crashes could be caused by the negligence of individuals or companies. They are often caused by the combined careless and negligent acts of more than one person or entity. If you need a lawyer to determine who is liable and their involvement in an aviation accident, your legal team must know who to investigate when determining fault. To reach this determination, the conduct of numerous individuals and/or companies must be carefully examined.

  • Pilot – Passengers and their families will look first at the pilot's conduct. The pilot is the ultimate decision maker when conducting the flight. However, as many pilots know, a pilot or family member may have claims based upon inadequate aircraft maintenance, a manufacturing related defect, or faulty information provided by air traffic controllers or weather specialists.
  • Airplane owner – The aircraft owner is responsible for maintaining the airplane. Very often, a pilot or company might lease the airplane they are flying. Therefore, your attorneys need to track down the airplane owner to verify whether all maintenance and necessary repairs were properly performed.
  • Airplane operator – You may wonder what an "airplane operator" is and how is that different from an "airplane owner?" Qualified aviation attorneys understand this difference, and it is an important one. The airplane operator might be a "middleman," leasing an airplane from an owner, and who hired someone else to pilot the aircraft. Knowing the relationships between these groups can affect their legal responsibilities, and their duties and responsibilities to the passengers and pilot.
  • Airplane or airplane parts manufacturer – Airplane manufacturers often equip the airplane with parts made by other companies. If the airplane, its engine, or component parts are not designed or manufactured properly, they could fail. In addition, the manufacturing process is a meticulous one. A manufacturer's lack of care in the design and manufacturing process could contribute to causing an accident.
  • Maintenance / repair facilities – Individuals who repair airplanes must follow specific and detailed instructions. Using improper parts, failing to conduct proper inspections, or failing to perform proper maintenance procedures, have caused accidents. A thorough review of the airplane's maintenance logs could identify maintenance and repair failures that contributed to causing an accident.
  • Federal government – Air traffic controllers direct and "guide" the pilot through national and international airspace. Weather specialists provide information on severe weather that pilots should avoid. The failure of either to properly perform these duties could place a flight and its passengers in danger and subject the government to liability.

These are complex cases, so people injured in airplane accidents need a qualified aviation attorney to protect their legal rights and aggressively pursue a legal claim on their behalf. Our legal team includes an attorney who is a licensed pilot and adjunct professor at a Chicago law school teaching an aviation product liability course.

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Posted on in Aviation Law

$115.75 Million Awarded to Families of Flight Crew Killed in Cargo Plane Crash

Families of military support personnel who perished in a tragic airplane crash in Afghanistan on April 29, 2013, received a verdict following trial in the Circuit Court of Cook County. At trial, the families of three flight crewmembers received a total of $115,000,000.

The deceased crewmembers were operating a cargo plane for a private air carrier that contracted with the government to transport military equipment. The aircraft, carrying armored vehicles, took off from a military base in Afghanistan. The final destination was California.

Transporting vehicles of this size and weight requires that the equipment be tied down so it does not move during the flight. This is especially important when an airplane is taking off and climbing. It is noticeable when watching an airplane takeoff that the aircraft is angled upward, with its nose toward the sky. If heavy objects are unsecure or loose, they could slide toward the tail of the airplane. If this occurs, the aircraft can pitch up dramatically and enter into a "stall." When a stall occurs, the aircraft can drop hundreds of feet before it can recover. But when close to the ground on takeoff, the aircraft may not have enough room to recover, and a crash will occur.

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