Pilot Crashes Due to Unsafe Runway Conditions

Aviation Expert WitnessThis case takes place in Texas and involves a man who died while performing his duties as a pilot. On the day of the accident the pilot was approaching the airport after a five hour ferry flight in a small aircraft. The airport in question was a small local airport that the pilot had never landed at before. On approach, the pilot was instructed to fly in very low by air traffic control staff. At some point, the pilot struck a radar tower located near the runway and crashed, killing him and his passenger. It is alleged that the pilot’s employer did not have the right aviation safety markers and spotters in place to prevent the accident and failed in commercial flight operations. A number of expert witnesses specialize in airport management, aviation appraisal and aerospace engineering were sought to opine on the issue.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Are you familiar with the types of safety mechanisms that should be used to prevent accidents?
  • 2. What type of markers, spotters should be on ground to assist the pilot in avoiding dangerous obstacles in air?
  • 3. What duty does an aviation company have to provide their employees (pilots) with the necessary safety options?

Expert Witness Response E-009401

This case is right in my area of expertise. The type of systems would include but not limited to adhereance to the FAA AC on marking for landing zones for aircraft. The markings are well understood and also include the Operator’s Operations Specification (see 14 CFR part 135). A prudent operator would also have a Safety Management System (SMS). An SMS would require the operator to fully identify the risks and hazards and to apply mitigation measures. The SMS would also require the use of ground crew as determined during the risk assessment. An FAA certified operator would have to provide training, procedures and appropriate internal qualities systems to insure compliance with documentation. I have reviewed numerous accidents and incidents where the appropriate prudent use of an SMS would have prevented both injuries and death. My experience as a pilot, regulator and safety VP have provided me with excellent qualifications in the realm of safety oversight and operations. I also implemented the first SMS at a major aircraft manufacturer including flight operations.

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