In just the latest high-profile aerobatics accident, an award-winning stunt pilot died along with his passenger, a television host from an extreme sports show. Although the pilot was from Florida, the crash occurred in Cozumel during production of a documentary film about the pilot and aerobatics shows. It is not yet clear what caused this accident but it underscores the very real risks involved with small aircraft in any context.
Most aviation accidents involve small planes, often under the control of private transportation or charter companies. A number of factors could explain why small planes are more likely to crash than commercial airliners. Two of the most common factors in these crashes also appear in stunt aviation accidents like the one that killed this pilot.
First, by definition, small airplanes are lighter and more maneuverable. This also makes them more vulnerable to changing wind conditions and other environmental factors. Wind shear is one notorious phenomenon that frequently plays a role in low-altitude crashes.
Second, small transportation companies have a less reliable track record when it comes to maintenance and repair operations. This likely played a role in the tragic crash that claimed the life of Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera last month. Although these companies are still subject to oversight by various regulatory authorities, it is easier for maintenance to slip through the cracks - this can and does happen frequently.
When a maintenance failure causes an aviation accident, the resulting litigation is often complex. Any liability determinations require detailed and sophisticated investigation, often in cooperation with federal transportation authorities. An experienced wrongful death lawyer can help victims' families move forward by developing a clear picture of what went wrong.
Source: The Miami Herald, "Key West stunt pilot Fred Cabanas dies in plane crash in Mexico," Cammy Clark, Jan. 16, 2013