When news first broke that Roy Halladay, former pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays, was killed in a plane accident on November 7th, 2017, the sports world stopped to grieve. Mr. Halladay was long known as one of the true “good guys,” beloved by fans and teammates alike. To a generation of baseball watchers, Roy Halladay embodied the idea of what a player should be.
As more details came in, grief turned to outrage. Mr. Halladay was piloting an ICON A5, a small recreational amphibious aircraft that has already been implicated in at least two crashes since it was released just a few years ago. One of these incidents resulted in the death of the designer of the plane, John Murray Karkow.
In both that case and in the Halladay case, many are dismissing the cause of the crash as pilot error. In the case of Mr. Karkow, it was specifically stated as pilot error due to flying too low. But the machine in question, the ICON A5, is designed and advertised for lower altitude flight. Lower altitude flight is dangerous, as there is less time to correct in case of pilot error. This is especially true with inexperienced pilots, or when flying over the ocean, as the ICON A5 is designed and marketed to do.
Designers of recreational aircraft must take safety seriously. This means designing planes free of mechanical or design defects that increase the likelihood of an accident occurring. This means manufacturing these machines to the highest possible specifications. But this should also mean pairing pilots with appropriate planes. Marketing low altitude amphibious recreational aircraft to inexperienced pilots is a recipe for disaster.
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a plane accident, a full reckoning with the model of plane is important. Some planes are simply more dangerous than others. Please, consult with an experienced attorney to help you determine if the plane was fundamentally defectively designed.