The Juneau Empire and the Associated Press recently reported on Alaska’s uniquely high rate of fatal plane crashes in the wake of the most recent crash that occurred in October near Dutch Harbor. As of November, there have already been 11 fatal crashes in Alaska this year alone.
Despite having only .2% of the U.S. population, Alaska was home to 5.4% of its fatal aviation crashes according to the NTSB’s most recent published data on this topic from 2016. The Juneau Empire also cites an Aviation Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) study, which found that the rate of crashes per flight hour in Alaska more than doubled the national average.
What are there so many plane crashes in Alaska? The most obvious answer is that Alaskans and visitors to Alaska fly more often than in any other state. Unlike in the lower 48, in Alaska there are many remote communities accessible only by air. Therefore, supplies, mail, and visitors must be transported in airplanes.
Alaska is also a dangerous place to fly. Extreme weather conditions, mountainous terrain, and overloaded planes are a recipe for disaster. There are also sometimes economic and social pressure on pilots to fly in bad weather in aircraft that are ill-equipped. The classic scenario of “VFR into IMC” (Visual Flight Rules flights that enter into Instrument Meteorological Conditions) claims lives nearly every year.
The reality of flying in Alaska is that sometimes crashes are tragic and unavoidable accidents. Other times, however, the crashes happen because an individual or corporation was negligent or reckless. In those circumstances, Krutch Lindell Bingham Jones is proud to obtain justice for victims and their family members. We are frequently hired by clients or associated by other law firms on Alaskan crashes for our local knowledge and aviation expertise. We have attorneys licensed Alaska and Washington State. Washington State is where much of the aerospace industry is based and where we often bring lawsuits against product manufacturers, maintenance companies, and cruise ship operators (for flights originating from cruise ships).
If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a plane crash, contact the attorneys at Krutch Lindell Bingham Jones.