Airline Negligence – Cutting Costs Can Lead to Passenger Injuries or Death

In 2021, the airline industry is beginning to heat back up. The COVID pandemic essentially shut down domestic air travel and airlines are eager to return operations to normal. More flights to various destinations around the country are opening back up and flight schedules are starting to get very busy. 2020 was a terrible year for most airlines. Restrictions on travel due to the pandemic led to government bailouts, layoffs, and shutdowns. At the Ferguson Law Group, we are concerned that airlines may start cutting corners in order to regain profitability. Airlines are obligated by law to keep airline passengers safe. Passengers are confined to a small space, restricted from free movement by federal laws and pilot instructions, and When discussing airline negligence the obvious thing that comes to mind is injuries due to airline crashes which typically result in mass passenger death. These injuries often result from pilot error, fault or improperly maintained equipment or failing to maintain safety and training standards of airline staff. However, injuries can result from a number of other airline-related activities including but not limited to:


  1.     In-flight injuries caused by avoidable turbulence;
  2.     Injuries caused by improperly maintained or used food and beverage carts;
  3.     Injuries resulting from falling luggage or improperly stowed baggage;
  4.     Injuries that result from failing to properly train staff and instruct passengers regarding in-flight safety;
  5.     Injuries resulting from avoidable tripping hazards in isles of aircraft.


These injuries usually could have been avoided if the airlines were not so focused on cutting costs and risking passenger safety for increased profits. Our airline injury attorneys are even more concerned now that airlines are trying to recover from pandemic-related losses by filling more flights with passengers and sharply increasing flight schedules. Airlines can negligently cause injury to passengers in the following ways:


  •     Inadequate Training


A poorly trained or supervised pilot can lead to tragic consequences when placed behind the seat of a large commercial airliner with passengers on board as a pilot in command. This is the most obvious and concerning example of how inadequate training can lead to injury or death of passengers. However, many other examples of poorly trained and supervised airline personnel can result in injury. These include:


  1.       Poorly trained safety personnel responsible for the monitoring of all airline operations;
  2.       Improperly trained flight attendants and crew regarding passenger safety standards and instructions;
  3.       Unqualified aircraft maintenance personnel.


  •     Aggressive Turnaround Times


In the airline industry, an aircraft sitting on the ground without passengers is not earning money. Therefore, airlines attempt to get planes back in the air as soon as possible and often push employees to aggressively turn an aircraft around once on the ground. This can lead to pilots not performing thorough preflight checks, maintenance personnel cutting corners and ignoring problems, and flight attendants abbreviating their safety requirements and instructions to passengers. 


  •     Flight Crew Stress


Overworked flight crews are at greater risk of making mistakes. These mistakes can lead to passenger injury. The Federal Aviation Administration has rules on the number of hours that a flight crew can be in the air. In this environment of airline recovery post-pandemic, the incentive to “fudge the numbers” and work beyond the authorized time will be great.


  •     Flying with Insufficient Fuel


Federal Aviation Regulations (FARS) mandate that commercial airlines have enough fuel to get to the destination airport plus 45 minutes of emergency reserves. Conversely, It is more profitable for an airline-operated aircraft on a reduced fuel amount. The aircraft are lighter and faster with less fuel. Also, fuel is costly. The less fuel an airline has to purchase the more the airline profits. Running out of fuel has been a major cause of aviation accidents and passenger-related deaths in the past.


  •     Improper Maintenance


The maintenance personnel working for airlines are just as important as the pilots. Aircraft operate for hours in varying weather conditions around the globe and are mechanically put to the test on a daily basis. Wear and tear is a big concern in the airline industry as well as periodic maintenance requirements. One way in which airlines reduce costs at the risk of passenger safety is by cutting corners when it comes to aircraft maintenance.


  •     Avoiding FAA and Airline “Paperwork” Requirements

Federal law and airline policies often require airline employees to fill out lengthy forms, memos, and “paperwork” whenever a safety issue or hazard occurs. This can include such things as:


  •       Unruly passengers;
  •       Defective equipment;
  •       Maintenance failures and shortcomings;
  •       Aborted landings or in-flight emergencies;
  •       Safety breaches by airline personnel at all levels.


The stress that airlines place on employees to keep flight schedules on time can cause employees to ignore these requirements or avoid safety steps in order to sidestep paperwork requirements. This can lead to catastrophic results.


Our aviation accident lawyers are experienced in dealing with airlines. We utilize experts such as pilots, aviation operations experts, and safety directors to build your case. If you or a love-one have been injured or killed due to the negligence of an airline or an airline employee, please call our experienced airline accident attorneys 24/7 for a free consultation.


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