Alaska has the highest number of air crashes in the U.S. Sadly, many of these accidents are preventable.
The latest crash report in Alaska shows that an air crash that left a Czech billionaire and four others dead resulted from pilot errors. In this article, we explore the common causes of air crashes in Alaska and how to prevent them.
Common Causes of Air Accidents in Alaska
Here are the common causes of air accidents in Alaska:
Alaska’s unpredictable weather, with heavy fog, ice, and high winds, can pose significant challenges for pilots, making it one of the leading causes of accidents.
Terrain and Remote Locations
The state’s vast, mountainous terrain and isolated areas can make landings and take-offs treacherous, especially in small aircraft or during emergencies.
As in many regions, pilot errors often misjudge weather conditions or make navigation difficult. These mistakes are the leading causes of air accidents in Alaska.
Aircraft are subjected to extreme conditions in Alaska, which can accelerate wear and tear. Mechanical failures, from engine issues to structural problems, can result in accidents.
Alaska’s cold temperatures can lead to ice buildup on aircraft, affecting their performance. De-icing procedures are crucial, and neglecting them can lead to accidents.
In Alaska, pilots often have to contend with wildlife on runways or in flight paths, which can lead to accidents when collisions occur.
Fatigue, stress, and communication issues can impact crew performance. In such demanding conditions, these human factors can contribute to accidents.
Lack of Training
Pilots operating in Alaska must have specialized training due to its unique challenges. Inadequate training can lead to errors and accidents.
In mountainous regions, avalanches can pose a threat to aircraft, especially in areas where they may be landing or parked.
Alaska’s remote nature often requires aircraft to carry heavy loads. Overloading can affect an aircraft’s performance and lead to accidents.
Measures Taken By Alaska Authorities to Prevent Air Accidents
Here are the steps taken by Alaska authorities to improve air safety:
Stringent Regulation and Oversight
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities closely regulate and oversee aviation operations in the state. These agencies set safety standards and monitor compliance by aircraft operators, pilots, and maintenance facilities.
Pilots flying in Alaska receive specialized training to handle the state’s unique challenges, including instruction on:
- Dealing with extreme weather
- Mountainous terrain, and
- Remote airstrips.
Many pilots undergo additional training, such as courses on glacier landings and wilderness survival.
Due to Alaska’s rapidly changing weather, authorities maintain an extensive network of weather monitoring stations. These provide real-time data on conditions, allowing pilots to make informed decisions and adjust flight plans accordingly.
Search and Rescue Operations
Alaska has an extensive search and rescue (SAR) network. In remote areas, particularly in the wilderness, quick response is essential. Authorities conduct regular SAR exercises and maintain a fleet of aircraft and personnel for these operations.
Rigorous Maintenance Standards
Aircraft maintenance facilities in Alaska adhere to rigorous standards set by the FAA. Regular inspections and maintenance checks are essential, given the harsh conditions aircraft are exposed to in this state.
Maintaining reliable communication in Alaska’s vast wilderness is challenging. Authorities invest in communication infrastructure, including VHF radios, satellite phones, and high-frequency (HF) radios, to ensure that pilots can stay in touch and receive assistance when needed.
Ice Detection and De-icing Equipment
Alaska’s cold climate often leads to ice accumulation on aircraft. To combat this, many aircraft are equipped with de-icing systems, and airfields have de-icing equipment to prevent ice buildup on runways.
Collisions with wildlife are a concern in Alaska. Authorities use a combination of measures, including wildlife fences, radar systems, and pyrotechnics, to deter animals from airfields and flight paths.
In mountainous regions, avalanches can threaten aircraft safety. Authorities conduct avalanche control measures, such as snow fences, controlled detonations, and regular assessments to minimize this risk.
Alaska’s aviation authorities actively engage with the local communities and encourage reporting of safety concerns. This collaborative approach helps identify potential issues and allows for timely intervention.
Key Steps in Air Accident Claims
First, the plaintiff consults an attorney specializing in aviation law. The attorney investigates the accident, collects evidence, and identifies responsible parties.
Then, the lawyer files a lawsuit, and the case enters the discovery phase, where both sides exchange information.
Subsequently, negotiations may occur, seeking a settlement. If an agreement isn’t reached, the case goes to trial, where both parties present their arguments.
The claims process is typically hard to navigate without legal representation. That said, hiring legal services can improve the chance of receiving a fair trial and settlement.