In the U.S., professional negligence and other acts that cause aviation accidents rarely lead to prosecution and criminal investigation. However, in other countries, criminal prosecution is the most common reaction to any accidents in the aviation. The aspect of criminalization has considerable effects on the aviation sector affecting the operators, owners, pilots, and maintenance personnel. An accident is an unplanned and unforeseen circumstance or event, often lacking any intention.
The use of concurrent verbalization in data gathering is used as one of the main techniques in the classroom and simulated environments. This makes it possible for the researcher to understand the reasons behind a person’s behavior in a certain situation. The use of verbalization is said to increase the participant’s cognitive performance.
First, accidents are a part of life. An accident is an unplanned and unforeseen circumstance or event, often lacking any intention. The outcomes are always negative; therefore, preventing and avoiding accidents is extremely important. Accidents can be caused by various issues including mechanical breakdown, human factor, and natural calamities. All accidents are classified by experts according to epidemiology, where there is prevention and predictability. This paper studies the causes of different types of accidents in details. It distinguishes the root causes of various plane accidents. In addition, the paper goes ahead to study whether criminalization of operators can help decrease the number of accidents. This paper aims at making the reader understand that cases of criminalization of operators can lead to minimization of accidents.
Numerous aviation accidents occur because of the planned actions. Nevertheless, some of these accidents could have been avoided. An example of such an accident is the Colgan Air Flight 3407. This accident happened in the year 2009, in the month of February. The airplane was owned by Continental Connections and worked under the codeshare agreement with the Continental Airlines. It was a Bombardier Dash-8 Q400 with the registration number – N200WQ. It was a regional flight from New Jersey to New York. On February 12 at exactly 10:19 p.m., the plane crashed into a house in New York after it experienced the aerodynamic stall. This accident caused the death of 49 people who were aboard, and another person who was in the house. The plane was damaged by the post-crash fire and impact forces. In addition, the house and car were destroyed as a result of this accident (“Aviation safety,” 2010).
Aerodynamic stall is a result of either the control loop or density caused by ambient air. This accident provoked many debates regarding the operation of this regional airline, as this was the first accident involving this company in the U.S. This accident was the first after the Comair Flight 5191 in 2006 and the last until the Asian Airlines accidents in July 2013. This accident is the most fatal crash of the commercial airline in the US. The families of those who died in this accident lobbied the Congress of the U.S. to enact rigid regulations for the regional carriers, and scrutinize the pilot working conditions and the safety operating procedures. The NTSB investigated this accident and came up with a report that this accident happened as a result of the pilot’s inability to act properly in the stall situation (Kester & Ross, 2010).
NTSB named a couple of reasons that had caused the crash. These reasons included the pilot’s inability to act properly in the stall situation. The other reason was a failure of the pilots to monitor the airspeed in relation to the rising position of the low-speed cue. In addition, the crew was unable to follow the procedures of the cockpit. Moreover, the company had inadequate procedures involving plane operation and airspeed selection in the icing conditions. The records of the flight, in turn, showed that the crew was very professional and experienced one (Doolittle, 2013).
The relatives of those who died in the accident took the airline company to the court concerning the accident. The injured party sued Continental Airlines with the FAA error. This case produced a number of interesting and full of twists decisions. The recording presented in evidence by the plaintiff was rejected by the court citing that it was a neutral one. During the court, some important issues concerning this airline were uncovered. This airline was owned by the Continental Airline but was operated by Colgan Air crew. This crew was working in regional airlines and had less experience in comparison to the mainstream carriers (Zill & Libbea, 2007).
During the court, the chairman of the NTSB asserted that Colgan Air was not forethoughtful as it paid low wages to new pilots; coupled with some other issues, this fact left the effectiveness of the company’s safety policy in serious doubt. The chairman also went ahead to state that the crew did not have adequate rest, as the first officer had to travel overnight and was to fly a plane the next day. This stipulated that the crew was fatigued and could not operate the plane appropriately. The pilot had also another flight the previous night and spent that night on his computer (“Loss of control,” 2010).
The other testimony that was presented to the court was from an expert from the FAA who confirmed that sleepy pilots were not able to appraise the flight conditions clearly. This expert stated that sleepy pilots had difficulties in making judgments regarding their impairments and were likely to have troubles following and concentrating on the multiple data and information sources. During the crash, the crew forgot to tract the deteriorating airspeed; after the activation of the warning system, the captain reacted mistakenly by lifting the bombardier nose upwards instead of downwards as a way of making the flight improve the wings angle and regain the airspeed. The investigators of the case noted that Colgan’s crew members lived miles away from their working place; this fact made them travel miles to the airport and caused them being exhausted (Kester & Ross, 2010).
With more evidence streaming in, investigators realized that the pilot had lied about his experience, and failed to be honest and confess that he had failed the check ride exam. This issue was caused by the insufficient legal enforcement of the federal law. This oversight was evident as the captain failed other two check ride exams, but was still certified to operate a plane. The other information stated that, in the moment of accident, the plane was on the autopilot. The chairman of NTSB stated that the icing condition did not play a huge role in the accident and crash of the plane. FAA stated that there were some problems in the way pilots and captains were taught and trained.
NTSB made its decision and stated that the cause of the accident was the error made by the pilots. This report asserted that the pilot did not manage to do all his best to try and prevent the looming crash. In addition, the report stated that the pilots had obtained illegal licenses; their actions were illegal and contradicted the rules set by NTSB. The other factors that were associated with this accident as stated by NTSB included the failure of the pilots to monitor the airspeed in relation to the rising position of the low-speed cue, the crew’s failure to follow the procedures of the cockpit, and inadequate procedures concerning the operation and airspeed selection in the icing conditions. Fatigue was another issue named by NTSB, which could have been a possible cause of the accident (“Aviation safety,” 2010).
Nowadays, there is a certain tension between potential prosecution involved in a plane accident and accident investigators. The main purpose of an investigation is to ensure that the prevention of such an accident in the future is possible. The investigation should ensure that there is no liability or blame placed on another person. This finding, however, makes it possible to place liability and blame on various people. The frequency of accidents in the aviation industry is decreasing, but the number of the respective criminal prosecutions is rising. Criminal prosecution and investigation are based on a variety of factors. Some of these factors include the fatalities and accidents magnitude, and criminal inquest (Doolittle, 2013).
The prosecution is directed towards retirees, owners, pilots, maintenance personnel, managers, OEM’s, and air traffic control. In most cases, the defense in criminal prosecution is disruptive and time-consuming. A person’s pocketbook and freedom are usually at risk. In some cases, pilots are imprisoned or detained without any clear explanation and appropriate hearing. The manufacturer and/ or airline corporation that operates or owns the ill-fated plane may be fined or disbarred. The prosecution has made it hard to study ways to improve the situation and mistakes to be avoided in the future, in order to help solve the looming problem. The prosecution mission is all in prosecuting the individuals involved, but not finding out solutions to help end this crisis (Sledge, 2012).
Prosecution of the people/companies involved in aviation accidents does not prevent the occurrence of such accidents caused by the pilot’s error. Prosecuting pilots as a way of trying to get information is a rather meaningless idea. It hinders the objective of getting information regarding the mistakes made, and ways to avoid them in the future. The increasing proceedings arising from judicial matters make it even harder to get information from pilots and operators. Consequently, such accidents cause more deaths each year, albeit they could have been avoided (Zill & Libbea, 2007). As a rule, the prosecution is not an issue of public interest as it hardly provides answers to numerous questions. There should be certain ways to ensure that the safety investigation and judicial matters work in line after the accident occurrence. These two processes should reconcile with each other to make it possible to get information on how to address these problems in the future.
There are certain issues that should be known by all pilots to help reduce the number of these accidents. They include familiarity with legal and law precedents of any country where they have to operate. The plan regarding emergency response as a mean of curbing the accidents should be also implemented. The best way for ensuring safe flights in aviation is to ensure that the pilots and other stakeholders understand the consequences of the conscious disregard of the safety procedures that can cause accidents. The two groups should work hand-in-hand to ensure that full-length information is received. Another crucial aspect is the self-incrimination issue. Any pilot, who understands that he/ she can be imprisoned, will avoid giving any information that can aggravate his/ her situation. This way, pilots usually lie or fail to mention some facts, as there is no trust between them and judicial workers (Zill & Libbea, 2007).
The identification of pilot’s errors should be well analyzed to help make it possible to understand if they deserve prosecution, imprisonment, or detainment. This means that the aviation agency should advise pilots clearly on the penalties that they may face if they cause an accident. Usually, the judicial proceedings fail to penalize many pilots as it states that it is impossible to determine clearly those involved. The lack of proven professional negligence causes less people convicted (Doolittle, 2013).
The accidents occurring in the aviation sector as a type of human errors need proper handling to ensure that all measures to prevent them are taken. Airlines should realize that various issues like proper payment and sufficient working time are very important in terms of the pilot’s efficiency at work. The criminalization of pilots without proper proceedings and evidence is a matter that needs careful review. Otherwise, the court will fail to get crucial information on the accident, which can be used to help reduce such problems and errors in the future. The reconciliation of the safety investigation and judicial proceeding should be given the first priority. This will help the parties find a solution to reduce the number of such accidents. Aviation agency should also realize that they need to make it mandatory for pilots to know and understand what they are required to do in different emergencies, in order to teach them how to manage the accidents.