compassOn the second anniversary of the disappearance of Malaysia Air flight MH370, this blog explored the known facts and concluded, “Unless and until the wreckage is located on the ocean floor and the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder data recovered, the most plausible scenario is deliberate human action, most likely by one of the cockpit crew.”

Thereafter, the search area was refined, but in January, 2017 further search efforts were ended. As a result, recovery of the vital “black boxes” is highly unlikely.

Continue Reading Air Safety: The Fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370—Revisited

crash site
The crash site near Mason City, Iowa

In the early morning of February 3, 1959, a Beech Bonanza carrying Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson) crashed shortly after takeoff from the Mason City, Iowa airport, killing all on board. The accident entered aviation history and American popular culture.

In early 1959 Buddy Holly’s band was playing a “Winter Dance Tour” across the wintry upper Midwest. The travel logistics were less than ideal, involving long drives in an-ill equipped bus, in sub-freezing and sometimes sub-zero temperatures. Holly and Richardson were both ill, and Holly decided to charter a flight to the band’s next stop in Moorhead, Minnesota to avoid another lengthy road trip after playing the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa on the night of February 2.

Continue Reading Air Safety: The Night the Music Died

Product Liability Monitor

February 8, 2017
New Developments
Autonomous Vehicle Technology Regulation In the Trump Administration
By Eric B. Krauss

Last autumn President Obama revealed his administration’s plan for autonomous driving technology. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) published fifteen guidelines in September, 2016, that were almost widely lauded as striking the right balance between safety and technological progress.   Consumer, automotive and technology interests—with the notable exception of Apple—seemed pleased that the government espoused policies that did not overregulate and stifle innovation, yet provided enough potential federal oversight to prevent a state law quagmire. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recognized that the emerging technology faced tremendous burdens, and federal guidelines would bring some uniformity to the fifty states’ differing regulations. Support for the Obama administration guidelines was near-universal and cost to the industry was minimal. [Continue Reading]

Defective and Dangerous Spacecraft
By Alan Hoffman

On January 27, 1967, the Apollo 1 spacecraft burst into flames during a ground test at Cape Canaveral. Three astronauts—Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee—died in the conflagration.  The fire and the loss of the astronauts traumatized NASA, which had a six year record of spaceflight without loss of life. [Continue Reading]

Product Liability Defense: New Resources and the Changing Platform
By Dan Jaffe

At many law firms and companies information technology is the moving force changing and enhancing the resource platform supporting product liability defense efforts. These rapidly improving technologies can reduce costs while increasing the amount and quality of available information needed to support the liability defense of products. Automated systems allow lawyers’ tasks to be performed with greater efficiency. Law practice is similar in this respect to other service businesses in which information technology has had a profound impact on workplace organization as well as the type and amount of skilled labor needed to accomplish the enterprise’s goals and objectives. [Continue Reading]

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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Product Liability Practice
Manufacturers work hard to develop material goods and product designs that are high-quality, safe and durable. We understand your commitment to excellence and commit ourselves to defending you against product liability allegations. Husch Blackwell’s Product Liability team has insight into your industry-specific challenges. [More information]
Product Liability Monitor Archive
December 2016

airplane jetOn May 31, 2014, a Gulfstream IV executive jet overran the runway at Hanscom Airport in suburban Boston from which it had attempted to takeoff. It hurtled into a ravine off the end of the runway, crashed and burst into flames. The three crew members and four passengers all perished in the resulting fireball. The accident received widespread media attention because the passengers included Lewis Katz, a wealthy businessman, philanthropist and co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who was returning with his guests from an education fundraising event hosted by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Continue Reading Air Safety: Free and Correct?: The Lesson of the Bedford Incident

1941 US Army Air Force Lieutenants
U.S. Army Air Force Lieutenants Harry Brown, Phillip Rasmussen, Ken Taylor, George Welch and Lewis Sanders

On December 7, 1941 most of the Army’s aircraft in Hawaii were neatly lined up at Hickam and Wheeler Fields, and were destroyed on the ground. But a few P-40 and P-36 fighters stationed at outlying airstrips on Oahu escaped. A number of Army pilots, some sleeping off a Saturday night of carousing, were awakened by the attack, hastily made their way to these primitive fields, and took off to undertake the air defense of Pearl Harbor that morning.

Continue Reading Air Safety: The December 7, 1941 Air Defense of Pearl Harbor

airplaneOn May 19, 2016 at 9:09 p.m. local time (23:09 UMT)[1] EgyptAir Flight MS 804, an Airbus A320, departed Paris bound for Cairo carrying 56 passengers and 10 crew. Its scheduled arrival time was 01:15 UMT.  At 23:24 UMT the aircraft entered Greek airspace. Air traffic controllers last spoke with the pilot, who reported no problems, at 23:48 UMT.  At 00:26 UMT data reported by the ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System) satellite communications system indicated smoke in the forward lavatory. One minute later, at 00:27 UMT, ACARS reported smoke in the avionics bay below the cockpit and a fault in the right side cockpit window. At the same time air traffic controllers attempted to contact the aircraft, but despite repeated efforts no response was received. The aircraft disappeared from radar at 00:29.

Radar returns indicated that the aircraft first deviated 90 degrees to the left of its flightpath, then made a full 360 degree circle to the right, while descending from 38,000 feet to 10,000 feet of altitude before disappearing at 00:30 UMT, approximately 175 miles north of the Egyptian Mediterranean coast.

Continue Reading Air Safety: The Fate of EgyptAir Flight 804

On March 5, 2015 Delta Flight 1086, an MD-80 en route from Atlanta to New York, skidded off Runway 13 at LaGuardia airport, coming to rest on a dike alongside the runway with its nose hanging over the waters of Flushing Bay. Delta 108629 of the 127 passengers and crew on board sustained minor injuries and the aircraft was substantially damaged. Both cockpit crew were highly experienced MD-80 pilots with thousands of hours logged in the aircraft, and the captain had made many landings at LaGuardia under winter conditions.

How did this accident happen?

Continue Reading Air Safety: Catch 22

airplaneSully, the new film starring Tom Hanks and directed by Clint Eastwood, opened recently to great box office success. It tells the dramatic story of the “Miracle on the Hudson,” the successful forced landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River on January 15, 2009 by Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and First Officer Jeff Skiles after a bird strike and failure of both engines of their Airbus A320.  The film accurately recreates the event, but also includes a wholly fictional confrontation between Sullenberger and fictional National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators in which the investigators challenge Sullenberger’s actions during the event.

What actually happened?

Continue Reading Air Safety: “Sully” — Hollywood Versus History

727 Plane
Photo Credit: Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum

The first generation of jet airliners revolutionized air travel with their speed and comfort when they entered service in the late 1950s. But their takeoff and landing speeds limited them to large airports with long runways, and with four fuel thirsty jet engines their operating costs and efficiency were far from ideal.

The Boeing 727 inaugurated the second generation of American jet transports. Powered by three turbofan engines, it offered the potential for cost-effective jet service to a much wider range of cities with smaller airports that could only handle propeller aircraft up to that time. To achieve this, the 727 relied on an advanced wing design incorporating a sophisticated triple-slotted flap system which effectively increased the wing area by 25 per cent for landings, allowing lower landing speeds as well as the high cruising speeds the public expected with jet travel.

Continue Reading Air Safety: The “Deadly” Boeing 727

Product Liability Monitor

August 9, 2016
New Developments
GM’s Ignition Switch Litigation Woes Continue
By Shannon Peters

“Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in.” That must be what GM’s executives (and counsel) were thinking when the Second Circuit handed down its recent decision overturning portions of the 2015 Bankruptcy Court decision that could have immunized the “New GM” from “Old GM’s” liability related to the ignition switch recall of 2014. The decision also calls into question the 2009 sale order as a potential violation of the victims’ due process rights. [Continue Reading]

The Hazards of Lithium Ion Batteries
By Alan Hoffman

Lithium ion batteries have been in use for more than two decades, but safety concerns about them have recently attracted a wave of media and regulatory attention. Fires involving the lithium ion batteries of Boeing 787 Dreamliners in January, 2013 resulted in the temporary grounding of the entire 787 fleet. [Continue Reading]

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) in Actions Against Firearms Retailers
By Dan Jaffe

The U.S. District Court of Kansas recently denied a retailer’s motion to dismiss a suit alleging negligent entrustment and knowing violation of federal law in the sale of a firearm based on the pre-emption provisions of the PLCAA. [Continue Reading]

Editor of the Month
Shannon Peters Shannon Petersconcentrates his practice on the areas of product liability, intellectual property, and general commercial litigation as part of the firm’s Product Liability team. He advocates for clients of all sizes, from individuals to corporations, including some of the world’s leading manufacturers of specialty chemicals, petrochemicals, automobile parts, and industrial and consumer products, advising them on negotiations, discovery issues and litigation strategies.
Connect with us: Blog | Twitter | LinkedIn
Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Product Liability Practice
Manufacturers work hard to develop material goods and product designs that are high-quality, safe and durable. We understand your commitment to excellence and commit ourselves to defending you against product liability allegations. Husch Blackwell’s Product Liability team has insight into your industry-specific challenges. [More information]
Product Liability Monitor Archive
July 2016