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After a yearlong investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has determined that pilot error caused the fiery crash in Ohio that killed two pilots and seven passengers aboard a corporate jet last November. The board said that the pilots botched runway approach and failed to stick to standard procedures as they approached the airport. Blame was also affixed on the aviation company for inadequate hiring, pilot training and aircraft maintenance, as well as having a “casual attitude toward compliance.” The report indicated that the pilot in control of the aircraft at the time had been fired from his last job because he wasn’t learning fast enough and lost track of details. Pilot fatigue may have also been a factor. The NTSB indicated that the pilot got 7 hours and 45 minutes of rest after a prior flight a few days beforehand, but was supposed to get 10. The board also placed blame on the Federal Aviation Administration for failing to provide proper oversight of the company regarding compliance with regulations.

According to the NTSB, during an attempt to land the jet the pilot caused an aerodynamic stall by improperly setting the plane’s flaps and failing to maintain proper speed on approach to the Akron airport. Video from a nearby business shows the jet descending at a high rate of speed less than two miles from the airport before crashing into an apartment building and exploding. No one was in the apartment complex and no one on the ground was injured. The group was on a six-day business trip, looking at properties across the Midwest, according to friends of the deceased. The last stop before heading back to Florida was Akron.

It appears simple, inexpensive safety measures would have prevented this tragedy and these senseless deaths. The NTSB does not assess fines or penalties, but used its findings to urge the FAA, manufacturers and training centers to make more than a dozen changes to bolster pilot training, monitor flight data more closely and define landing procedures more clearly. “We hope that this investigation will prevent such tragedies in the future,” said Christopher Hart, NTSB chairman.

The continuation of unsafe practices is, simply, too expensive, once the lack of safety measures are exposed. Our justice system was created to punish the guilty and insure better and safer conduct and products. The threat of a lawsuit does that better than any other safety tool. Serious injury lawsuits always result in improved safety. At least seven wrongful death lawsuits against the aviation company have been filed on behalf of the deceased passengers.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.

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