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Looking at our commercial air traffic today, it’s hard to imagine the empty skies in 1903 when the first aircraft, flown by the Wright Brothers, took flight near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Now, during most days of the year, there are more than 87,000 airplanes airborne in the U.S.
In any given second, approximately 5,000 airplanes are soaring in skies over the U.S. In 2014, more than 500 million tourists crossed international borders, traveling by air to reach their destinations.
Safety Plays Key Role in Air Transportation
Over the past century, air transportation has changed dramatically, with air safety playing a major role in this evolving industry. In the 1920s, traveling by plane was downright dangerous and fatal accidents were commonplace.
The only way pilots were able to navigate their flight pattern was by relying on magnetic compasses. And, because they needed to be able to see roads and railways, pilots generally flew low, about 200 to 500 feet above ground. Bonfires on fields helped illuminate overcast skies and darkness, and early controllers in the 1930s waved flags to signal pilots.
Fast forward 75 years and we see the marvel the aviation industry has become. Air traffic control has evolved beyond maps, blackboards and telephones.
FAA Oversees National Aviation Safety
Since 1970, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been overseeing the “certification of aircraft” from “initial design to retirement.” In addition, the administration has full oversight of civil airport planning, environment, development, certification and safety.
The FAA safety and efficiency roles include:
- Regulating civil aviation to promote safety
- Encouraging and developing civil aeronautics, including new technology
- Developing and operating a system of air traffic control and navigation for both civil and military aircraft
- Researching and developing the National Airspace System and civil aeronautics
- Developing and carrying out programs to control aircraft noise and other environmental effects of civil aviation
- Regulating U.S. commercial space transportation
ICAO Strives to Ensure International Air Safety
Since the late 1940s, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has served as a specialized agency of the United Nations. Its goals include the following:
- Creating and preserving friendship and understanding among nations
- Promoting cooperation between nations
- Ensuring that international civil aviation implement practical and achievable measures to improve safety and efficiency in all sectors of the air transportation system
Individual Safety in Airports and Planes Receives Little Attention
Although air transportation has become significantly safer over the years, accidents still occur. At first, you may think of plane crashes. After all, plane crashes are what make the news.
The truth, however, is that plane accidents don’t happen as often as you might think. In fact, in recent years, fewer than 15 plane crashes have occurred annually and most of these have taken place outside of the U. S.
What may not make the news are the accidents that happen to individuals rather than the industry. These types of accidents can occur anywhere in the airport and anytime while boarding, flying or deplaning.
Types of Individual Accidents
There are several types of accidents that occur to travelers during the course of a trip involving an airport or plane.
- Luggage that falls out of an overhead bin onto a person’s head causing severe injuries
- A rolling food cart on a plane that gives way during turbulence causing someone injury
- Someone falls on a plane, going to or from the restroom
- A passenger slips on a restroom floor in an airport
- A person has an accident involving elevators, escalators or moving walkways
OSHA Aviation Hazards
More hazards exist in airports or on airplanes than you might realize. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has outlined a variety of hazards that airport personnel face, and many travelers may face the same ones. These areas can all pose risks:
- Baggage claim
- Ramps or other access points to and from an airplane, including steps leading up to the aircraft
- Trams or other airport transportation systems
- Air on the plane and exposure to noxious fumes
- Noise exposure
- Construction and remodeling projects
Accidents Can Happen Nationally or Abroad
When accidents happen to individuals in an airport or on a plane, whether in the U.S. or another country, there is rarely media attention or a multi-agency response. You probably won’t find out about it in the headlines, and passengers may feel they have no recourse.
But they do. And that’s where Weitz & Luxenberg can help.
Our firm is fortunate to employ a recognized authority on aviation law. In fact, he authored what some may call a “bible” for international aviation legal matters.
Because aviation-related litigation is one of our specialties, we encourage you to contact Weitz & Luxenberg if you have sustained an injury at an airport or on an airplane. You may be entitled to compensation, and we would feel privileged to assist you in pursuing your claim.
How Weitz & Luxenberg Can Help
As a nationally recognized personal injury law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg is committed to helping clients win cases. For more than 25 years, we have dedicated ourselves to holding irresponsible practitioners accountable, and we have won $17 billion for our clients.
We would feel privileged to assist you. For a free consultation and more information about your legal options, please call us at 800-476-6070. If you prefer, you can complete our form, and our client relations representative will contact you shortly.