Young Daniel Perelman was by all accounts an aviation enthusiast realizing his dream of becoming a pilot.

He was on his first solo, a landmark event in any young pilot’s life, when he reported engine trouble and crashed suffering life taking injuries. This is a sad day for the Perelman family.

The Cessna 152 he was flying has been around for decades. I trained in its predecessor the Cessna 150.

It has three flaws that no doubt contributed to this crash and the injuries suffered.

The first is that the design of the Cessna fuel tanks does not allow the complete removal of water and other sediments from the fuel. It is possible for a pilot to do a thorough pre-flight, draining the fuel tanks from the small drains at the bottom and never remove all the water because the drains are above the lowest point in the tank.

The second is that the engine is carbureted which means that even if the engine holds together after the hard use a trainer gets, fuel starvation or over enrichment can occur due to the lack of precision of the fuel delivery system. Carburetors work a little like a toilet water fill system. They have a float that shuts the replenishment of fuel when it gets too high in the bowl and allows the fuel to refill the bowl as necessary when the fuel is used. Often the needle valve gets stuck which is the Achilles heel of the system and will shut the engine down by either starving it of fuel or making the mixture so rich that the engine won’t run or loses power.

Carburetors also suffer from carburetor ice which forms inside the carburetor as the fuel expands in the air with which it is mixed. The temperature drops and ice can form if it is humid. This model engine is usually immune from carburetor ice due to the location of the carburetor especially on takeoff but the Cessna 152 does have a carburetor heat handle so it is not impossible.

The third flaw in this aircraft is its complete lack of crashworthiness. It is an unfriendly environment in case of accident. No airbags, no soft energy absorbing materials, inadequate seat belts and harnesses and many switches and knobs that are dangerous in the event of an impact because the fuselage does not attenuate impact it instantly contracts in size and then expands called spring back. The lack of structural rigidity enhances injuries.

Most trainers are fairly Spartan to keep the cost down but while not a perfect solution, selecting a more modern trainer with some built in safety features like fuel injection, crashworthy interior and a ballistic recovery system can lessen the risks that are always inherent in a single piston engine design.

The loss of any young life is an unspeakable tragedy. May this young man’s memory be a blessing.

Arthur Alan Wolk

May 31st, 2022

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This win is especially poignant because of the abuse by the defense. The first trial took three months while the defendant deliberately delayed the trial. It filed no less than 8 appeals that were all thrown out.

The first trial ended in a mis-trial because the jury couldn’t stay longer and had served for months while the defense made it a point to waste their time.

The second trial was more of the same but the case went to verdict and the jury entered a 9-million- dollar verdict for Plaintiffs. The defense appealed that too but in a 34-page opinion the Superior Court of Pennsylvania rejected the defense arguments and affirmed the verdict and post-trial decision of the Court.

This decision is significant because it is one of the few trial court verdicts and post-trial decisions after the Pa. Supreme Court overhauled Pennsylvania’s Products Liability Law.

It affirms the ability of the trial judge to make issue by issue choice of law decisions and reaffirms the long-standing law that failure to create a record below makes an appeal non-justiciable as to that issue. The decision also made it clear that failing to adequately argue points on appeal with cogent citation of cases that are in point renders the appellate Court unable to address that argument.

This result is a relief to the Lallo family who have waited 9 years since the death of the mother and father in an airplane crash in Kansas City just moments after a visiting to celebrate the birth of their newest grandchild.

While the case should be over, the option remains for the defendant to ask the Pa. Supreme Court for relief but the strength of the Superior Court’s opinion should deter any reasonable legal mind from pursuing that course which will be unavailing while interest on the verdict mounts daily.

Cynthia wrote the brief and argued the appeal and deserves great credit for a magnificent result.

Arthur Alan Wolk

May 26, 2022

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An airline that maintains its own flight school wants the FAA to reduce the required flight time for its first officers from 1500 to only 700.

It claims that in 700 hours its student pilots have enough experience to serve in a support capacity to a Captain who has more than the required flight time and will not compromise safety.

The 1500-hour requirement for first officers followed a tragic crash of a Colgan Airways turboprop crash in icing conditions on approach to Buffalo N.Y. While the NTSB’s probable cause unfairly blamed the pilots, the new higher flight experience requirement for first officers was designed to bring more skill into the cockpit.

Here’s the problem with the airline’s logic which the FAA will likely go along with. Flight time is not an indicator of experience, it is a number of hours of flight time. Experience is time in the air, time in the type aircraft and years of experiencing all types of weather, lots of emergencies and abnormal conditions in airplanes. That’s why big airlines always had an apprentice program that required a pilot to get years in the cockpit before he became qualified to be a captain or even a first officer.

If the FAA allows this reduction in flight time to be the rule, I predict an airline safety disaster. I had friends who claimed to know it all after just 600 hours. They didn’t but are a risk to themselves and others. The FAA statistics show that most accidents occur when the pilot has between 500 and 1000 hours pilot time. That’s the “I know it all.” period and before a pilot starts to learn that he doesn’t know it all after all.

This proposed reduction of required flight time is a mistake and will make us all less safe.

Arthur Alan Wolk

May 12, 2022

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