Oregon Midair Collision Focuses Attention on Aviation Safety

Late last month a small plane carrying both a student pilot and a flight instructor dove suddenly over Yamhill County, striking and literally slicing to pieces a smaller plane flying at a lower altitude, according to The Oregonian. The pilot and passenger of the descending plane were uninjured, but the pilot of the plane they hit died in the Oregon air crash. Both planes were flying out of Hillsboro, and the midair collision occurred “northwest of Aurora State Airport,” the newspaper reports.

The troubling thing emerging in media reports concerning this Oregon aviation accident is the revelation that this was not the first fatal accident involving students at a particular Hillsboro-based flight school. That fact raises troubling questions, and even the possibility that an Oregon wrongful death claim might eventually emerge from the investigations surrounding the crash.

The earlier fatal Oregon air crash incident, according to The Oregonian, took place when “a company flight instructor and his student died in September 2009 when the helicopter they were flying crashed in a field south of Forest Grove and burst into flames.” Perhaps even more ominously, “investigators looking at the helicopter crash “concluded that the flight crew’s failure to maintain adequate rotor speed resulted in a stall, followed by an uncontrolled descent to the ground.”
Put another way, we now have two fatal crashes in a relatively brief span of time involving aviation students making critical errors while flying with instructors – instructors whose most important role is surely to ensure the safe operation of the aircraft while a student is at the controls.

Negligence is never a pleasant word to use, but from an Oregon aviation accident and wrongful death attorney’s perspective it is an issue that at the very least merits consideration in cases such as these. Instructors at flight schools are entrusted with significant levels of responsibility for the welfare of their students. Attorneys and courts can and should serve as guarantors that justice is served when people in key jobs fail to carry out their jobs in a safe and responsible manner.

The Oregonian: Champoeg midair collision was second fatal crash in 2 years for Hillsboro Aviation

The Oregonian: Plane with student pilot dropped onto smaller craft, breaking it into pieces, police say