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Reasons Why Airplane Crashes Are So Common in Alaska

The great state of Alaska is no stranger to aviation accidents. In fact, the Alaskan aviation accident rate is two times that of the entire United States. Pilots who fly in Alaska state that there are many challenges that arise while they are in the air, particularly noting extreme weather conditions. Another issue is that travel in small aircraft is a familiar way of life for most Alaskans, which increases the probability of plane crashes occurring in the Last Frontier. There were a total of 5 million plane boardings in Alaska in 2018, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. That is equal to 6.8 times the entire population of Alaska. The national average sits at about 2.6 times the United States population.

In the event that you or someone you love has been injured in an Alaska plane accident, it is important to seek the assistance of an Alaska accident attorney. An attorney will be able to assist you in collecting full and fair financial compensation for your injuries and incurred losses you may have endured due to your recent accident. 

An upward trend is evident in the aviation accident rate in Alaska in the last few years. The National Transportation Safety Board reports that there were a total of 11 fatal aviation accidents that occurred in Alaska in 2019. This is two more than the previous year, and three more than in 2017. In 2016, the NTSB stated that there were a total of 221 fatal aviation accidents across the United States, 12 of them occurring in Alaska. This means that the Last Frontier, which is home to approximately .2% of the US population, was the site of about 5.4% of the nation’s fatal airplane accidents. 

Deciphering the Data

According to the regional manager of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Tom George,  there are a plethora of conditions that uphold the statistics stating that Alaska is a dangerous place to fly. To begin with, there are a small number of federally funded airports in Alaska. This means that more landings and take-offs take place in harbors or rather rough terrain. This issue could lead to a plane accident that could severely injure or take the lives of any passengers present at the time.

Secondly, there is a lack of radio receivers on the ground that are usually used in order to help traveling pilots keep track of other active planes in order to prevent mid-air collisions such as the one that occurred on May 13, 2019, in Ketchikan. The sheer size of the state itself coupled with unpredictable and often severe weather patterns also play a large role in endangering flight travel in Alaska. Four Fatal aviation wrecks occurred in Southeast Alaska in 2019, all of which can be attributed to treacherous weather conditions. 

George also stated that no single state region in Alaska seems to stand out as more dangerous than the next. A pilot familiar with the North Slope of Alaska may find that navigating Southeast Alaska tends to be more dangerous and difficult. Some traveling near Anchorage could be flummoxed by the air travel near the Aleutian Islands. George stated that the area one is least familiar with usually presents itself as the most dangerous. 

Being injured in a plane accident is quite possibly one of the most frightening and trying experiences a person can go through. If you have recently been injured in an Alaska plane wreck, contact the law office of Jason Skala in order to speak with a skilled and experienced Alaska personal injury attorney about how to successfully move forward from the aftermath of your crash. You could be entitled to financial compensation in various forms, including but not limited to pain and suffering, medical cost coverage, and more.

How Common is Travel by Plane in Alaska? 

Over the years, it has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Alaska is one of the most dangerous places to fly an airplane in the United States. This is mostly true in regards to general aviation. Most of the state’s isolated communities depend upon small planes like Pipers, Cessnas, and DeHavillands in order to get from point A to point B. Over 80% of the Last Frontier’s communities, including those of the state’s capital, Juneau, are not connected to roads or highways, making air travel and water travel essential for survival. In the wintertime, people utilize snowmobiles for some travel, but the need for travel by plane is constant.

Airplanes are the only way for some people to travel to and from certain places in Alaska. In Buckland, an Inupiat Eskimo village located about 40 miles from the Arctic Circle, there are no roads leading to the small community of about 425 people. A woman by the name of Laura Washington lives in this small community and visits Anchorage for shopping, major doctor’s appointments, and sporting events. In order to make it there, she must first catch a small plane to the village of Kotzebue, where she then catches a larger plane to the largest city in Alaska. This type of travel is commonplace in Alaska, increasing the risk of plane accidents. 

Alaska is unique among most states in the nation in its need for constant aviation travel, which obviously increases its risk of aviation accidents. It is an unfortunate circumstance that the weather in Alaska is often not ideal for flying and that the state lacks some of the important equipment needed for safe air travel. These are all factors that contribute to the unusually high aviation accident rate in Alaska. 

Contact the law office of Jason Skala, LLC in the event that you or someone you love has been injured in an Alaska plane crash and is seeking financial compensation as a result. An Alaska Bar Associate since 2001, Jason Skala has successfully handled a number of complex cases including commercial litigation and wrongful death, among others. Call the law office of Jason Skala today at 1-907-569-6633 in order to speak with a specialist concerning your own personal injury case and to see if you qualify for financial compensation for your injuries and incurred losses.

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