The twin-engine King Air Beech 65-A90 airplane that crashed shortly after takeoff Friday in Oahu, Hawaii, killed all 11 people on board. The plane was operated by Oahu Parachute Center skydiving company and was carrying customers and instructors to skydive. The crash is the deadliest civil aviation crash in the U.S. since 2011 when a pilot and 10 spectators were killed during an air crash at a Reno, Nevada, airshow.
Witnesses to Friday’s crash in Hawaii explained that the plane was flying at a low altitude after takeoff. They saw the plane roll two times before crashing nose first into the ground. Upon impact, the aircraft exploded leaving only a pile of smoldering remains near a fence at Dillingham Airfield. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are currently investigating the cause of the crash.
Although it could be a year or longer before federal investigators determine the cause of the crash, they discussed during a press conference that they will examine many different factors including the weight of the plane as well as the repair and inspection records of the 52-year-old plane. Specifically, they will examine the quality of repairs made to the plane following a similar, frightening event in 2016 that left the aircraft badly damaged.
In the 2016 event, the plane stalled, spun three times and forced 14 skydivers to jump to safety in the Eastern San Francisco Bay Area. The NTSB report attributed the incident to pilot error. However, during the incident, the plane lost a piece of its horizontal stabilizer and the elevator broke off. The pilot was able to land the damaged plane safely after the skydivers jumped out of the aircraft.
Some of the victims in Friday’s crash have been identified on social media by friends and family members; however, the names and ages have not been officially released yet.
Mike Andrews, a lawyer in the firm’s Personal Injury and Products Liability section, focuses much of his practice on aviation accident litigation. He has represented people seriously injured in aviation crashes, and the family of those killed in both civilian and military airplane crashes and helicopter crashes. He is representing the families of those killed in the Ethiopian Airlines crash related to the Boeing 737Max planes. Mike was recently named by the National Trial Lawyers to the Top 10 Aviation Attorneys list for Alabama. Membership is by invitation only and is extended to most qualified attorneys for each state or region.
He also has written a book on the subject to assist other aviation lawyers, “Aviation Litigation & Accident Investigation.” The book offers an overview to the practitioner about the complexities of aviation crash investigation and litigation. Specifically, it looks at aviation industry regulations and complex defenses and provides basic instruction on preserving evidence, insight into legal issues associated with aviation claims, and anecdotal instances of military and civilian crashes. Mike would be happy to talk with you about any aviation cases.