Although virtually everyone has boarded an airplane at some point, relatively few may consider the people whose livelihoods depend on supporting the aviation industry. Engineers, manufacturers and mechanics provide the groundwork necessary for getting up in the air. As such, multiple entities may be accountable for injuries that result from negligence.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provides oversight for commercial aircraft, including safety regulations. Private pilots must also adhere to FAA requirements, such as annual inspections.
What might an inspection include?
Just as regular maintenance is necessary for the safe operation of a motor vehicle, planes need repairs from time to time. However, annual verification of an aircraft’s structural integrity is necessary to remain in service.
In general, a pilot will perform a walk-around inspection before they fly. They also test systems by completing a pre-flight checklist before each takeoff. However, once every year, a more thorough examination is necessary.
All parts of an airplane must be connected properly and free from cracks, deterioration and leaks that could cause system failure or a safety risk.
The FAA requires an examination of the:
- Landing gear
Testing the Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) is also essential every 12 months.
The FAA imposes additional requirements on aircraft used for hired passenger transport or flight instruction. For example, an inspection after every 100 flight hours.
Pilots with an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) rating must also inspect their altimeter and transponder every other year.
Legal may not equal safe
As with any form of transportation, a catastrophic accident is possible despite adherence to regulatory guidelines. However, compliance could both greatly reduce the chances of an accident and shield you from accountability.
While an annual inspection mitigates risk, it is only one small factor in aviation safety. In the event of a crash, liability could extend far beyond one mandatory report.