Why Do Jury Verdicts Usually Go Against NTSB Findings?

USA Today conducted an investigation linking crashes to defects in small aircraft. Over five decades, nearly 45,000 people have been killed in private plane and helicopter crashes.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says that 86 percent of private crashes are caused by pilot error. However, USA Today says its investigation reveals many instances in which defective parts in small aircraft led to a crash.

In civil court, judges and juries have found major airplane and helicopter manufacturers liable for these faulty parts. These companies have had to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars in wrongful death damages:

  • Cessna Aircraft
  • Robinson Helicopter
  • Mitsubishi Aircraft
  • Bell Helicopter
  • Lycoming Engines

Interestingly, these multi-million dollar verdicts go against the findings of the NTSB. This could be for a couple of reasons:

  • The NTSB conducts limited investigations into most private aircraft crashes.
  • There could be a conflict of interest, because the NTSB requests the airplane manufacturers to conduct an investigation into any possible faults that may have caused a crash. The NTSB requests this even when a manufacturer is sued for a possible problem with their aircraft.

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