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NTSB Cites Pilot Error in Fatal 2010 Aviation Accident

By Orlando Personal Injury Attorney on February 8, 2012

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators recently finished looking into a fiery aviation accident that killed four people in November 2010. In their report, the NTSB cited errors made by the pilot and a certified flight instructor that led to the crash at Palm Beach International Airport. The NTSB report stated that the Piper PA-44 Seminole bound for Melbourne from the Bahamas crashed nose first into the runway right after takeoff around 6:05 p.m. on November 11, 2010 and subsequently caught fire, killing all four people aboard. All the victims were either employed by or attended the Florida Institute of Technology’s FIT Aviation School near Melbourne.

The report said that the crash was caused by "the failure of both the pilot and the certified flight instructor to ensure that the left fuel selector was in the on position for takeoff" and "their failure to follow the proper procedures when the left engine lost power shortly after takeoff."

The NTSB determined that these two errors led to engine failure and the inability to control the aircraft. Pre-flight checklists require that both fuel selectors be switched on during takeoff. The accident investigation revealed that the left fuel selection lever and the fuel selector valve were both in the off position when the plane took flight that day. If proper preflight protocols are observed, the aircraft’s fuel selector is supposed to be switched from the on position to the crossfeed position while the aircraft is taxiing. Just before takeoff, the checklist states that the pilot is supposed to move the fuel selector from the crossfeed position to the on position.

Shortly after takeoff, the pilot radioed the air traffic control tower that her aircraft was experiencing engine failure and that she needed to turn around and land as quickly as possible. NTSB investigators found no evidence of mechanical malfunction or failure during their investigation.

We tend to take air travel for granted these days, and safety protocols like the checklists mentioned above as well as proper aircraft maintenance schedules and other safety measures help ensure that air travel is safe. However, not all aircraft owners place passenger safety above all other concerns and sometimes cut corners to save money. That does not appear to be the case in this unfortunate accident, but it does happen, and when it does, victims and their families deserve effective and experienced legal representation. If you or a close family member has been injured in an aviation accident and you would like to learn more about your legal options, call Orlando aviation accident attorney James O. Cunningham today at 888-425-2004 or 407-425-2000. Mr. Cunningham has been using his skills and experience as an Orlando personal injury lawyer to help injured people since 1977 and works hard to ensure that his clients receive the fair and just compensation they deserve.

James O. Cunningham

Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.

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