We were all shocked and saddened by the air disaster that happened on Monday, seemingly in our own backyard. A private jet carrying members of a North Carolina health care company crashed short of the runway at the Montgomery County Airpark, destroying a nearby home. The crash killed all three occupants aboard the jet as well as a Gaithersburg mother and her two young children who were trapped in the ensuing fire after the home was struck.
Sussman & Simcox previously represented a Maryland family who suffered a terrible loss in the COMAIR air disaster in Kentucky in 2006 and is familiar with the investigative process now underway. While commercial aviation statistics show a marked increase in safety for air travelers since the 1980’s, smaller aircraft, including corporate jets, come under the FAA’s heading of “general aviation” and are not subject to the same strict safety regulations as to either pilots or aircraft. It is not uncommon to hear of a small plane incident in the Baltimore Washington area every few months. In Monday’s crash, a team from the NTSB has preserved the crash site and recovered any available flight recorder and cockpit voice recorder for analysis. Data regarding the aircraft’s speed, altitude, electrical and hydraulic systems will be analyzed to try to ascertain what led to this tragic event. Experts will look at that data and other factors to draw conclusion as to the probable cause of this accident, be it weather, pilot error, maintenance, or some other cause. This process will typically take months.
But knowing the cause will not bring back any of the people who lost their lives, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families.