Banner planes, once a sight reserved for holiday crowds, have become ubiquitous in Panama City and other Florida beach communities. They advertise anything and everything, including alcoholic beverages, radio station programming, car insurance, and the occasional marriage proposal. Small planes are also becoming a more common method (and more financially accessible) mode of transportation for those coming to our region and those looking to explore Bay County from a different vantage point.
Unfortunately, along with the increased popularity, our firm has noticed an increase in the number of private plane accidents. As a Panama City plane crash lawyer, Attorney Pittman is prepared to help the victims of this growing danger, including those injured or killed who are either passengers, pilots, or bystanders.
Officials are continuing to investigate the crash of a small plane during weekend festivities at the University of Florida in Gainesville. WJHG reports that the small plane had been towing a banner above the campus during tailgate celebrations for the college football match between Florida and Arkansas on Saturday. Witnesses told reporters that the banner plane had been flying low over Pressly Stadium and a residence hall before it crashed into the ground. It appears that the plane lost power, forcing pilot Graham Hill to attempt an emergency landing on Flavet Field. University of Florida Police Chief Linda Stump commented that Hill's landing prevented a more tragic outcome, and none of the witnesses on the ground were injured. Both Hill and passenger Ian Conrad suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were taken to an area hospital. The Alachua County Sheriff's Office is investigating in place of the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration, both of which have been impacted by the government shutdown.
In June 2012, Bloomberg published an article looking at the danger of deadly crashes involving private planes in the United States. At that time (note: the article was published a year before the Asiana Air crash, the referenced statistics do not include that incident), there hadn't been a fatal crash involving an airline since 50 people died in a Colgan Air accident in February 2009. However, between that time and the article's publication, 30 times as many people had died in private plane wrecks. While there was an 85% reduction in commercial jetliner accidents, the crash rate for private planes had risen 20% since 2000.
Research into the general aviation accidents suggests many of the incidents resulted from pilots' failing to pay attention to the basics of aviation safety. Examples include failure to check weather reports, flying overloaded planes, and piloting mistakes that caused a loss of lift and/or control. National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Debbie Hersman criticized general aviation pilots for failing to learn from the mistakes of others, a trend in contrast with the advances in commercial flight safety. Other experts noted that human error was at the root of most personal plane accidents.
Notably, private flights are significantly less regulated than commercial air, and the general aviation community is resistant to greater oversight. Education, training, and technology (ex. handheld devices that alert pilots and prevent them from getting too close to mountains or other dangers) may hold answers. We hope that the industry, regulators, and experts can work together for positive change.
If a private plane accident in Northwest Florida has left you injured or caused the death of a loved one, you may be entitled to compensation. Our Panama City airplane injury attorney can help. In addition to providing much needed financial damages, the process of filing an injury claim encourages thorough investigation of collisions that can help prevent future tragedy.