Category Archives: Airport Runway, Tarmac and AOA incidents

Just as when air travel was in its infancy, drone usage is so new that the laws and regulations have not yet caught up to actual usage.  The Commonwealth of Virginia is uniquely positioned to aide in the research into safety.

Virginia Poised to be a Leader in Drone Technology and Unmanned Craft Testing

historic airplane
When airplanes looked like this, air travel was in its infancy and few regulations existed. The laws and rules governing today’s airline industry were developed over time, as air travel became more pervasive and safety became of greater concern. Similarly, drone law must evolve as the popularity of these unmanned systems is on the rise.

Drones are unmanned remote-controlled aircraft.

The Commonwealth of Virginia is uniquely positioned to test, manufacture, and create policy to augment the safety of these unmanned systems.

In an interview with second term U.S. Senator Mark Warner for the April edition of Virginia Business,  this outstanding politician said, “Not as a politician, but as a business guy, I predict what will be the next most disruptive technology will be unmanned systems. There were 1 million drones sold at Christmas last year America. None of them were built in America. Yet, Virginia is one of the six sites that can do [Federal Aviation Administration] testing. We actually have more capacity to test center-driven or driverless cars in Virginia than any other state. With activities at Virginia Tech, some activities at Southside, and with some capacity we have in the [Express] lanes in Northern Virginia, we have an opportunity to be involved in the design and manufacture of unmanned systems. It’s going to be a huge area, with the military, with activities at Tech and other institutions, we really have a chance to be a leader.”

The military has already been arming drones to kill enemy combatants just as the Israeli Defense Force has been using them for years to take out known terrorists. The technology exists for many civilian applications.

“However, the law sometimes trails newer technologies, and rules to ensure safe use and responsible manufacture are critical to protecting citizens’ privacy and safety,” notes Herndon airport injury lawyer Doug Landau.

He adds, “The government cannot simply give drone owners carte blanche; there must be some regulatory oversight, or else these devices will start taking jets, planes, and helicopters out of the sky, causing property damage and permanent injury to innocent victims in the air and on the ground. If Virginia is going to be leader in testing, design, and manufacture of the unmanned flying devices, then the Commonwealth will need to have laws in place to protect the public from unnecessary harm.”

If you or someone you care for has been injured by a drone, aircraft, or other aviation related accident, and there are questions as to what laws apply, email or call Abrams Landau, Ltd. at once (703-796-9555).

airport ground crew and airline workers on the air operations area ("AOA") are at risk for permanent injury and disability at the busy U.S. international airports

Airport Ground Crew Injuries on the AOA

airport ground crew and airline workers on the air operations area ("AOA") are at risk for permanent injury and disability at the busy U.S. international airports
Airport grounds crew and airline workers on the air operations area (“AOA”) are at risk for permanent injury and disability at the busy U.S. international airports.

Airline personnel are at risk for injury due to accidents on the Air Operations Area (“AOA”) at busy international airports.

Nighttime flights, runway noise, and slippery winter conditions increase the risk of on-the-job accidents.  Because ground personnel are wearing hearing protection, they may not be aware of a luggage tug, fuel truck, or other small vehicle coming up behind them.

There are many distractions on the air operations area, and tight aircraft turnaround schedules.  Airline ground crew may be busy servicing several shifts at the same time, and in the rush to keep “on time” schedule, accidents can happen.

It is important for ground crew to seek prompt medical attention, and let their own family doctor know about any injuries, so they can get the best possible outcome.

It is good policy to coordinate all healthcare providers.

The family doctor knows the airline or airport worker’s health history better than the specialist for a runway accident.

Airline personnel may also have to undergo testing by an FAA physician before being allowed back on the air operations area for flight personnel, especially after a significant injury with time lost from work and strong narcotic medication prescriptions.

If you or someone you know has been injured while working on the Air Operations Area at an airport, and there are questions as to what laws apply, email or call Abrams Landau, Ltd. at once. 703-796-9555.

Drone Strikes Jet in the UNfriendly Skies Around the International Airport

After giving a presentation to the American Association of Justice on "Drone Law," Airline injury lawyer Doug Landau was able to change into his casual wear & explore Boca Raton, Florida with American, British & Canadian trial lawyers
After giving his multi-media presentation to the American Association of Justice on “Drone Law,” Airline injury lawyer Doug Landau was able to change into his casual wear & explore Boca Raton, Florida with American, British & Canadian trial lawyers

Just weeks after Doug Landau warned of the dangers of “Rogue Drones” and gave a presentation on “Drone Law” at the convention of American Trial Lawyers, a suspected drone struck a British Airways airliner. The international jet was beginning its landing at Heathrow Airport when it was hit.

The aircraft’s pilot reported to police that the front of the jet was hit on their return from Geneva, Switzerland on Sunday. The craft landed safely at the Heathrow Terminal with 132 passengers and five crew members aboard. Engineers examined the Airbus A320 and cleared it for its next flight. Nevertheless, this is precisely the dangerous conduct that lawyer Landau warned about in his multi-media presentation to the American Association for Justice, which has many members from England and other Commonwealth countries.

Landau’s presentation, “Who is Liable for Making the Skies Unfriendly ?” examined the explosion in popularity in recreational and commercial drone usage.  Lawyer Landau’s presentation pointed out the fact that the government was playing “catch up” to respond with laws and workable safety protocols after a number of “near misses” at American airports.

According to the British press, no arrests have been made, but the investigation continues. “Thankfully the aircraft landed safely but the incident highlights the very real dangers of reckless, negligent and some times malicious use of drones,” Chief Superintendent Martin Hendy, head of Metropolitan Police Service’s Aviation Policing Command, said in a statement. “We continue to work with the Civil Aviation Authority and other partners to tackle this issue and ensure that enthusiasts who fly drones understand the dangers and the law.” Landau notes that if the technology exists to track cell phones and trucks, why can’t drones be tracked so as to avoid crashes with large commercial or military jets ? 

The Civil Aviation Authority (the equivalent of the US Federal Aviation Administration) stated, “It is totally unacceptable to fly drones close to airports and anyone flouting the rules can face severe penalties including imprisonment.” Rules for drone pilots in the UK include making sure that these unmanned flying devices are always within the operator’s line of sight, not flying above 400 feet (122 meters), and staying away from airports and aircraft. British Airways stated, “Safety and security are always out first priority and we will give the police every assistance with their investigation.”

Everyone at ABRAMS LANDAU hopes that whomever was operating this drone is apprehended and that this incredibly dangerous behavior is dealt with by the courts in an appropriate manner.

Top Virginia Workers Compensation Commission mediator & Deputy Commissioner Temple Mayo and former Commissioner Larry Tarr flank Herndon workplace injury lawyer Doug Landau at the VWC's Headquarters in Richmond, Virginia

Insurance Company’s Rejection of Claim Allows Employee’s Rejection of Panel Doctor

Top Virginia Workers Compensation Commission mediator & Deputy Commissioner Temple Mayo and former Commissioner Larry Tarr flank Herndon workplace injury lawyer Doug Landau at the VWC's Headquarters in Richmond, Virginia
Top Virginia Workers Compensation Commission (“VWC”) mediator & Deputy Commissioner Temple Mayo and former Full Commissioner Larry Tarr flank Herndon workplace injury lawyer Doug Landau at the VWC’s Headquarters in Richmond, Virginia

Normally, when a Virginia Workers Compensation claim is accepted by the employer and their insurance company, the injured employee must choose a doctor from the panel of physicians offered by the insurer. If the disabled worker fails to choose an attending physician from the panel, then the carrier can deny treatment as “unauthorized.” “The panel is one of the ways that the insurance companies control the costs of workers compensation claims,” according to Loudoun and Fairfax County comp counsel Doug Landau. However, lawyer Landau notes that there are exceptions Continue reading

The Airport Operations Area (AOA) can be dangerous because workers' sense of hearing, sight, and feel may be limited, leaving them exposed to dangerous conditions.

Airport Ground Crew are Vulnerable on the Air Operations Area (AOA)

Airport Operations Area (AOA) can be dangerous.
The Airport Operations Area (AOA) can be dangerous because of numerous vehicles maneuvering in a tight area. Workers’ ability to see, hear, and feel dangers around them is limited on the AOA.

Airline ground crew and airport personnel are vulnerable on the air operations area (“AOA”) because of the numerous vehicles that are maneuvering — sometimes in very tight spaces.

In addition, most of these workers are wearing ear protection which limits their ability to hear danger coming from behind.  With jet engines running, it is sometimes impossible to feel the vibrations of an oncoming vehicle.

So if employee cannot feel a large vehicle coming, or hear it coming, or smell it coming, then they must rely on their sense of sight, which may be distracted due to luggage carts, fuel tankers, small jets, midfield people movers, and other vehicles on the AOA.

This is why there are injuries to airport and airline workers on the runway area, even when they are exercising vigilance for their safety and that of other people on airport grounds.

If you or someone you know works on an airport operations area and has been injured due to no fault of your own, please email or call Abrams Landau, Ltd. at once.

Drones serve many useful functions, but these unmanned aircraft can cause physical harm, injuries and invade one's privacy if not regulated

Drone Policy Analysts Joined by Privacy Advocates

Drones serve many useful functions, but these unmanned aircraft can cause physical harm, injuries and invade one's privacy if not regulated
Drones serve many useful functions, but these unmanned aircraft can cause physical harm, injuries, and invade one’s privacy if not regulated

In follow-up to our prior post regarding unmanned drone safety and registration, we discuss a new wrinkle in administering policy to these pilotless aircraft:  the question of privacy.

While there is no question some regulation of the private and commercial use of drones was inevitable, the task for regulators is now how to protect privacy and promote safety without infringing on the First Amendment rights of citizens and businesses who wish to use drones for legitimates purposes, like photography or news gathering. A recent New York Times editorial piece discusses this complex situation where commerce, safety and borders all collide.

The Times notes that the “F.A.A. is not equipped to regulate another big drone-related issue: privacy. There is no question that many Americans are concerned; 63 percent of people surveyed by the Pew Research Center and Smithsonian magazine in 2014 said allowing private and commercial drones into the American airspace could cause harm. Some worry that drones will be used to peer through windows and into normally protected spaces like backyards. These are not new concerns. In 1946, in a case involving airplane takeoffs and landings over a farm, the Supreme Court ruled that people should have control over “the immediate reaches of the enveloping atmosphere” above their properties.

Many privacy advocates are also worried that drones used by businesses will collect information like wireless signals emitted by cellphones that could be used to determine people’s locations. One marketing company did just that in a test last year in Los Angeles.

President Obama has ordered the Commerce Department to work with industry and privacy groups to come up with a set of best practices for drone use that are expected to be voluntary. States and cities are more aggressive. Lawmakers in California, Texas, Los Angeles, Miami and elsewhere have passed laws that limit where drones can be flown and how they can be used. Texas, for example, forbids the use of drones to take photographs of people or real estate. Exceptions include crime investigations and the marketing of properties by brokers.

The public’s desire for clear rules is understandable. Still, policy makers should not make it so difficult to use drones that they end up limiting the First Amendment rights of filmmakers, activists and journalists. The Texas law, for example, does not include an exception for news gathering.

Unmanned aircraft can be incredibly useful. But many Americans will be skeptical of them unless safeguards are put in place guaranteeing safety and protecting privacy.

Washington Dulles International Airport area lawyer Doug Landau agrees that safeguards must be put in place.

If there are no protections, insurance companies and defense lawyers may have victims followed 24/7 by unmanned aircraft. Landau had a case in which an injured worker was filmed painting the INSIDE of his Reston apartment by a camera hoisted up on a telescoping pole. The apartment was on the 3rd floor !

The film was used against the injured worker by the insurance company lawyer.

To lawyer Landau’s arguments about technology and “invasion of privacy,” the judge in the Alexandria Circuit Court ruled that as the activities were “visible” from the street, they were “fair game” for the insurance company investigator ! Landau notes, “with drone technology, it will be even easier for insurance companies to spy on injured victims, such that they will have no privacy after being harmed through no fault of their own !

Drones need to be regulated for reasons of safety, national security, and privacy.

Drone Injury and Safety Policy Leads To Registration

dkwl @ Full VWCThe Association for Justice (“AAJ”) morning litigation program tends to feature “cutting edge” and merging areas of the law.

When Doug Landau submitted his paper on the law of drones, there was little case law or regulation, despite reports of near misses with helicopters and airplanes at major international airports.

Given the Virginia Motorsports Park drone crash and other injury producing incidents caused by these unmanned, remote-controlled flying machines, Landau noted, “It will be only a matter of time before serious, permanent or fatal injury results from the unsafe, unregulated use of such potentially dangerous technology.”

Landau regularly assists injured airport workers and travelers with their accident and workers compensation claims. He adds, “there are drones flying about or near the major airports, with no oversight or coordination. This makes no sense when folks with remote controlled toy cars and planes must get a license. You do not want a toy or a drone using the same frequencies or flight path as a commercial jet or private plane. Especially as drones become larger and less expensive, the day will come when an errant drone takes down an aircraft.”

As is true for most peer-reviewed publications, Continuing Legal Education programs, and speeches, Lawyer Landau’s drone aircraft presentation was completed in the Fall of 2015, well in advance of the July, 2016 Annual Convention in Los Angeles, California.

Landau was pleased to see that the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) has taken a measured to approach in instituting safety policies for this new technology. These pilotless aircraft have become become smaller, cheaper and more popular. While these flying machines have numerous beneficial applications — mapping remote, inaccessible areas; inspecting cellphone towers; providing mobile traffic monitors; assisting with animal population studies; law enforcement investigation; shooting movies or compiling multidimensional real estate portfolios — they are also a threat to other aircraft.

Policy makers have had to address the potential safety problems. Not unsurprisingly, the Federal Aviation Administration has taken the lead in regulating drones. Last month, it started requiring users to register their unmanned aircraft. It has also proposed rules that would limit drone flights to daylight hours and require commercial users of small drones to keep their aircraft within their sight.

The FAA’s press release quotes U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx as stating, “Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility. Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely. I’m excited to welcome these new aviators into the culture of safety and responsibility that defines American innovation.” Registration is still free until January 20th, and drone owners may register through a web-based system at www.faa.gov/uas/registration.

The FAA has also proposed rules to limit flights to daylight hours, keeping the aircraft within sight of the operators, and other safety protocols. Landau applauds the Administration’s steps to make the sky safer, and he hopes the rules for commercial and recreational drone use are enforced for the protection of the public and airline personnel.

In the next post, the issue of privacy is also being evaluated by the Federal Government in light of differing rules by the states and Constitutional questions.

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Cargo Crew Members May Bring Personal Injury Cases As Well As Workers Comp Claims for Airport Injuries

Airplane
Injured airline cargo crew members may be able to collect both a workers comp award AND settlement from a third party injury case.

While passenger jet flight crews can maintain workers’ compensation claims when injured on the job AND also bring a “third party case” against the unsafe wrongdoer, cargo crews may not know  they also could have this double-barreled legal protection.

A workers’ compensation claim can cover a cargo airline employee’s medical bills and some wage loss.

But if a crash at the airport was caused by someone not working for the victim’s employer or in “the same trade or occupation,” then a lawsuit might result in additional reimbursement for the disabled person’s losses.

Washington Dulles International Airport injury lawyer Doug Landau notes, “though the injured worker must pay the comp carrier back on the money paid for medical care, wage loss, or permanent injury, the long-term disability and permanency Awards we have won for our airline clients mean they still net significant money from a third party negligence case.”

Lawyer Landau adds, “knowing how to win the workers’ comp claim AND also negotiate the compensation insurance company’s lien (a legal “IOU”) can result in significantly more money winding up in the injured airport employee’s hands.”

Retaining a firm that can help with BOTH the comp AND the personal injury case in this specialized area of law is both economical and smart, as there are savings to be had for the injured airline cargo worker by having both cases handled under one roof.

If you or someone you know is an airline cargo crew member injured in an airport accident and there are questions as to what laws apply email or call Abrams Landau, Ltd. at once (703-796-9555).

October Landau Law Letter

Airline employees and airport contractors should exercise increased care when pushing wheelchair bound passengers through the airport terminals and gates so as to avoid unnecessary injuries.
The October edition of the Landau Law Letter features an article about passengers injured in an airport.

The October edition of our newsletter, the Landau Law Letter, was published earlier this month.

A unique feature of our newsletter is that we publish lawyer Landau’s schedule so you can “see him in action”.

This is especially helpful if you have an upcoming trial, hearing, or mediation session.  A visit to your trial’s venue in advance will help you feel more comfortable on your own day in court.  You can test out your directions, locate the parking, and get the general lay of the land.

Also, many of Landau’s airport, passenger, and airline injury clients do not live near the Abrams Landau office in Herndon, Virginia.  But you can check the newsletter to see if he plans to be in your area — he welcomes the opportunity to meet with you while he’s in “your neck of the woods”.

And finally, it’s natural to want to see your lawyer “in action” before he goes to battle on your behalf.  Come check out what we do — you won’t be disappointed!

If you do want to come see us in action please be sure to call our office first at 703-796-9555, or send us an email.

 

How do air traffic controllers and pilots protect against drones flying near airports ? Who is responsible if drones cause injury ?

Who is responsible for a crash between a drone and a private plane or commercial jet?

How do air traffic controllers and pilots protect against drones flying near airports ? Who is responsible if drones cause injury ?
How do air traffic controllers and pilots protect against drones flying near airports ? Who is responsible if drones cause injury ?

Air-traffic controllers have plenty to do safely coordinating arriving and departing aircraft, as well as vehicles on the airport operations area. With the surge in the numbers of these small, unmanned aircraft being used in American air space, their jobs, and those of pilots and other airline personnel, have become exponentially more difficult and dangerous.

As recently reported on the editorial and  front page of the Washington Post, there have been many “near misses” at major US international airports. Herndon Virginia airport injury lawyer Doug Landau notes that while there are international conventions regarding injuries caused during flights, the advent of drones will require updating both American and international laws to keep apace with technology.

Since many drones are small and fly at altitudes under the radar, it is extremely difficult to avoid contact. Eyelets have reported not seeing the unmanned the craft until they are nearly upon these hovering objects. Lawyer Landau adds, “When you factor in the speed and momentum of a commercial aircraft, with the invisibility of a small unmanned craft that does not emit a beacon or warning lights, you have an air crash disaster in the making.”

So what is the solution? Landau advocates that, “Drones should be equipped with the technology so they can be seen, heard and otherwise sensed (and safely avoided) by commercial and private aircraft. If a drone operator is flying unmanned aircraft without this safety technology, they should be fined. If you have to buy a license for a remote control airplane, it seems a small surcharge on drones is not asking too much of hobbyists and professionals. The best protection is prevention.”

Landau adds, “if a jet or small airplane is taken out by unmanned drone, who is going to pay for the harms and losses? The drone operator probably has no insurance for such a loss, and limited assets. The airlines, or aircraft operator, will assert that they are not liable, as they were not negligent, and were not the cause of the crash, injuries, property damage or death.” Clearly, the FAA and related to governmental agencies need to get on top of this issue, before disaster strikes.