Airplane Accidents, Wrongful Death, & Serious Personal Injury | MG Law

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Canadian Airplane Accidents And How Personal Injury Lawyers Have Helped Pick Up The Pieces

Since 1945, Canada has had 191 fatal civil airliner accidents, falling only behind Russia and the United States

As taboo as they may seem, airplane accidents are always a possibility. According to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB), in 2020, the fatal accident rate involving Canadian registered aircrafts was 0.4 per 100,000 hours flown [1]. Though this rate is down from previous years, the threat of wrongful death and serious injury on planes is not nonexistent.

Aviation accidents understandably raise many safety and liability issues. The main question is: who is at fault when the vessel goes down? Whether it be a manufacturing defect or a pilot’s negligence, accountability is key. However, accountability is often bypassed by aviation defendants, creating an unclear outcome, and prolonging the court process for everyone involved.  

What is certain though is that airplane accidents are preventable. Human error in these cases is much too common. From lack of training to poor maintenance, these factors must be resolved to create a safer sky environment for all. Luckily, personal injury and wrongful death lawyers have been doing their part to help traumatic accident victims.

A closer look at Canadian aviation accidents

The TSB reports airplane accidents if they occur in Canada or if they involve a Canadian registered aircraft and meet TSB regulations [2]. Canada has had countless airplane accidents, many of which could have been avoided, saving a number of innocent victims’ lives.

Too often these incidences have plagued Canada as aviation operators fail to prevent accidents that can end in fatal results. This is a violation of their duty to the public and their employees. Airplane accidents are unfortunately inevitable, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t avoidable. In the past, many measures could have been taken to save these flights from tragedy.

The only good thing to come from these accidents is change. When an airplane crash happens, it triggers adjustments in the way safety measures are enforced. For trial lawyers, this has resulted in the aviation industry being held accountable. This has ultimately made safety even more of a priority in the sky.

Air Canada Flight 621

On July 5, 1970, Air Canada Flight 621 crashed while attempting to land at Toronto-Pearson International Airport [3]. The aircraft was new and had been delivered to Air Canada just three months before the accident. Captain Peter Hamilton and First Officer Donald Rowland were running the vessel having both previously flown together. Both the Captain and First Officer had different preferences on how to arm ground spoilers of their planes, but neither were approved procedures by Air Canada. When attempting to land in Toronto, the duo imposed their own methods of deploying the ground spoilers, causing the aircraft to sink, and hit the runway head on. They then tried to land on a second attempt, but the right engine exploded, immediately killing the right side of the plane. The aircraft then nosedived, striking the ground at about 410 km/h and killing all 100 passengers and the nine crew members on board.

In 1971, an investigation of the incident concluded that the accident was caused by pilot error. Two men in charge of keeping their passengers safe decided to ignore the rules and instead became responsible for tragedy. Had they followed the approved procedures, these wrongful deaths would have never happened.

Pacific Western Airlines Flight 314

An abundance of errors were made on February 11, 1978, when a Pacific Western Boeing 737 approaching Cranbrook, British Columbia crashed in the midst of a snowstorm, killing 43 of the 49 people on board [4]. With heavy snow falling, both the air traffic controllers and the pilots misunderstood the flight’s ETA. The aeradio controller sent out a snowplow to clean up the runway and planned to call the plow back as soon as Flight 314 was approaching.

Unfortunately, the pilots became distracted and never disclosed with the aeradio controller that they’d be landing earlier than anticipated. The aeradio operator never received an update on the plane’s position and was unaware that Flight 314 was about to land, meaning the snowplow never came off the runway. While coming down, they flew right over the snowplow, causing a rushed landing where components of the plane failed, causing a crash that resulted in a fire on impact.

This crash was caused by an air traffic control error, bad weather, mechanical failure, and pilot error. A lawsuit against the manufacturer of the plane, Boeing, was issued by Transport Canada as a result of the crash. Because of this crash and the accidental death lawyers who fought for changes, there are now various standards for the use and creation of ETAs, and there are specific rules for pilots when approaching airports.

Air Canada Flight 624

More recently, a crash occurred in Halifax, Nova Scotia on March 29, 2015. Flying during heavy snowfall and strong winds, the plane hit power lines before hitting the ground 200 metres short of the runway [5]. It then bounced back up, hitting a navigation antenna before ultimately crashing. Twenty-five passengers were injured and luckily no deaths occurred.

In a report by the TSB, the investigators found that the flight crew had set the plane to autopilot. The autopilot was set to fly the plane’s proper descent path. However, the pilots did not monitor the aircraft’s altitude and distance away from the runway. The wind caused it to veer off course, changing their landing needs. In addition, the report also blames air traffic control. They were too busy with snowplows on the runway and failed to provide extra lighting for the landing.

Following the crash and pleas from accidental death lawyers, Air Canada issued stricter regulations regarding the use of autopilot and vertical navigation. It also told its pilots to monitor instruments when flying below the minimum altitude. Halifax Stanfield International Airport also upgraded the approach lighting for the runway where the crash occurred. This past fall, the crash case made it to the Supreme Court of Canada because the passengers involved want the release of the cockpit voice recordings that were recovered from the crash, which are currently held by the TSB [6].

If you or a loved one have been involved in a serious airplane accident, trust MG Law

MG Law’s team of seasoned professionals successfully handle Ottawa personal injury claims and Ottawa wrongful death claims. If you have been injured or your loved one has suffered a wrongful death because of an aviation accident, call 613-730-8460 to book your free consultation. Personal injury and wrongful death claims don’t have to be hard when you have the support of MG Law behind you.

  1. https://www.bst-tsb.gc.ca/eng/stats/aviation/2020/ssea-ssao-2020.html
  2. https://www.bst-tsb.gc.ca/eng/stats/aviation/2020/ssea-ssao-2020.html
  3. https://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19700705-0
  4. https://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19780211-0
  5. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/plane-crash-air-canada-halifax-transportation-safety-board-1.4121029
  6. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/supreme-court-of-canada-air-cabada-crash-case-tsb-recordings-1.6210931

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