About Airlaw

For more than 50 years, The Wolk Law Firm has concentrated its practice in the area of aviation law, with Arthur personally generating verdicts and settlements of more than a billion dollars during the last decade alone. He is known for obtaining and on appeal, holding, the largest verdicts for each type of air accident claim in recent aviation history.


    A Beechcraft A-36 Bonanza departed JFK Airport in New York on a rainy night returning home to Cleveland where their families awaited their return.

    The pilot, Boruch Taub and his passenger Binyamin Chafetz took off on a routine flight when all of a sudden, the aircraft lost its climb rate and on-board diagnostics revealed that power in at least one cylinder was lost and oil pressure was decreasing.

    Air Traffic Control afforded magnificent assistance to this pilot trying to give him radar vectors and reassurance to the Westchester New York Airport nearby but the workload and the loss of engine power was just too much to make the Instrument landing System to Runway 16  at the airport.

    The pilot was cool, calm and followed directions in this most highly stressful environment but sadly the aircraft crashed into trees near the airport and both occupants were killed.

    The engine in this model aircraft has failed and failed again in service. In fact, in one popular model, the primary source of accidents is the failed engine of similar make and model as this one.

    I owned a similar aircraft many years ago and once I became aware of and the victim of its litany of engine problems never owned one again.

    Here is the problem with reciprocating aircraft engines. They are old designs. They fail catastrophically too often. Failed cylinders are epidemic, this engine likely had a rod put through the cylinder wall or crankcase causing loss of oil pressure and the loss of power in the entire engine. There is no current alternative but anyone who flies a reciprocating engine powered aircraft is risking a catastrophe every takeoff. But the industry has been slick by misrepresenting the frequency of failures, near failures and potential failures so pilots think it will never happen to them. It does and it will.

    I attach the air traffic control communications which is instructive. First it teaches us that ATC can be of invaluable assistance in an emergency. It teaches us that some pilots make us proud to be in that community because of their professionalism, even in fear of death. You can read more in the article in The Stamford Advocate.

    Be prepared to cry, the knowledge that no matter how hard these men tried to save each other, it was not enough will break your heart.

    May the memories of Boruch Taub and Benyamin Chafetz be a blessing to their families.

    Arthur Alan Wolk

    January 22, 2023

    Contact The Wolk Law Firm
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    c: (610) 733-4220
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    Air Traffic Control Communications With The Pilot



    The tragic loss of life in this crash is appalling and appears to be due to a loss of power on the left engine.

    The airplane was approaching the airport slowly and as it slowed further it appears that it rolled into the left engine and went down knife edge into a ravine.

    The video is a typical engine failure scenario where if one engine fails and power is applied with the remaining engine the aircraft will want to roll into the dead engine.

    For that to happen the aircraft has to be slower than VMCA, the minimum control airspeed with engine failure and the good engine at takeoff (not landing) power.

    What happens is that when surprised by engine failure or loss of power the crew may swimming in glue in the cockpit unable to address the airplane’s abnormal flying characteristics quickly enough to prevent it from going out of control.

    Other potential causes are propeller failure which adds drag on the left side or just a stall (aerodynamic not engine) from getting too slow on the approach. One would hope with all the built in safeguards an inadvertent stall is the lowest likelihood on the list.

    Lastly, every airliner today takes off overloaded. The weights of the typical passenger are much higher than the weights that are computed when the airplane is certified for both men and women (just look around you)and baggage is much heavier as well. This makes an engine failure even worse and stall speeds even higher than published.

    The cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorders will be important as well as the experience and training of the crew. It would be important to see what speed the airplane was flying on this approach as it appears slow and that may well be a factor as control was lost.

    May the memories of all aboard be a blessing to their families.

    Arthur Alan Wolk

    January 15, 2023

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    Arthur Wolk presented with the Wilbur and Orville Wright Master Pilot Award

    The Federal Aviation Administration presented the founder of The Wolk Law Firm, Arthur Alan Wolk, with the coveted Master Pilot Award.

    It is reserved for those pilots who have dedicated themselves to aviation safety for fifty years.

    The Wolk Law Firm is unique in that its founder holds multiple Type Ratings in jet aircraft, is airshow qualified for aerobatics down to 400 feet AGL and is airshow formation qualified.

    He is also an Airline Transport Pilot for both single-engine and multi-engine land and sea airplanes.

    The Wolk Law Firm is proud to acknowledge this achievement, demonstrating compelling reasons for it to be considered the standard against which all other aviation law firms are measured.


    November 16, 2022

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    The tragic accident that took the lives of so many skilled pilots and crew members at the airshow in Dallas was totally preventable and the video is disturbing because of the clarity it brings to the cause.

    YOU NEVER GO BELLY UP TO THE LEADER  As a former airshow pilot myself that admonition was drilled into my head by some of the best airshow and military trained pilots led by John Ellis who strictly enforced that and other airshow rules so there were no accidents. The CAT Flight which flew formation with multiple aircraft types of which I was a member as CAT 5 never had an accident even though 6 different aircraft joined up several times during the shows.

    The formation training of the P-63 fighter pilot is unknown to me at this hour but the video clearly shows that his aircraft was belly up to the B-17 with which it appears he was attempting to join.

    The reason for the rule is you lose sight of your leader and thus cannot judge distance, location speed or anything else. The risk of collision is very high when you cannot see whom you are supposed to be in formation with and that kind of join up is not permitted.

    I am not blaming anyone and to the greatest extent possible airshows, the pilots and the aircraft that fly in them are safe. Airshows are one of the largest spectator events in America and it is rare that a tragedy like this occurs.

    What can we learn? Training, training, training, discipline, discipline and more training.

    Formation flying is not easy but to do it safely you must do it frequently or practice extensively before doing it in an airshow setting. The other rule about airshow safety is to take your time, do nothing you haven’t practiced before and never violate the airshow briefing and do only what is briefed. That way expectations from all pilots are the same and no deviations are expected.

    Be careful what these “putative” ex Government experts are saying because they have never flown airshows or a vintage military aircraft for that matter.

    For the most part, the aircraft are well maintained, expertly flown and care is taken to make sure that our national heritage of military aviation is displayed safely.

    May the memories of those lost be a blessing to their families.

    Watch the video below.

    Arthur Alan Wolk


    November 13, 2022

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    Watch the Video



    There are many lawyers who claim aviation accident experience but who have little or none but may be successful in other fields.

    Here are a few important questions to ask.

    1. How many aviation accident cases have you handled?
    2. How many aviation accident cases have you tried to verdict?
    3. What were the verdicts in those cases?
    4. Are you a pilot?
    5. How long have you been a pilot?
    6. Have you personally flown the aircraft involved in this accident?
    7. Did you personally investigate this accident before I called you?
    8. What do you think happened?
    9. Do you personally know the management of the aircraft manufacturer?
    10. Do you personally know the management of the engine manufacturer?
    11. Have you settled cases with the insurers for the aircraft or engine?
    12. Are you one of the world’s recognized experts in the field of aviation accidents?

    If the answer to any of these questions is no or you get responses that don’t make sense, you need The Wolk Law Firm.

    Contact us, we can give you the answers you need. We are the acknowledged world’s experts in this field.

    Arthur Alan Wolk

    November 1, 2022

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    Two pilots are dead in the fiery crash of a Beech E-90 King Air. The aircraft was equipped with four bladed propellers. While giving a quieter ride, these four-bladed propellers are like barn doors in the event of engine failure.

    The investigation is just beginning but there is just no reason for an aircraft like this to crash absent a loss of power on one side.

    The original aircraft was equipped with 3 bladed propellers and VMCA, minimum control airspeed with the critical engine wind-milling was computed with the propeller not feathered. When equipped with four-bladed propellers, the VMCA goes through the roof, some 30 knots higher and landing speeds are below VMCA. Absent immediate feathering of the propeller on the affected engine, the airplane will slow down and stall. On takeoff the airplane will roll towards the inoperative engine until upside down.

    I have no doubt these pilots were skilled and experienced but taken by surprise recovery from an engine failure is no easy task.

    Typical reasons for engine loss of power are PY air leak, bleed valve failure or less likely a catastrophic failure of either the power section or gas generator. In some modes of failure there is no annunciation of that failure to the pilots.

    The Wolk Law Firm has handled a dozen King Air crashes due to loss of power.

    May their memories be a blessing.

    Arthur Alan Wolk

    October 18, 2

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    Witnesses describe the takeoff as a sudden pitch up, the airplane stalled and then crashed to the ground killing young flight instructor Viktoria Ljungman and injuring her student.

    This has happened time after time in single engine Cessna’s when either the pilot’s or front passenger seat slides suddenly rearward while the pilot is holding onto the flight controls.

    The grasping reflex causes the person in the pilot’s seat to hang on for dear life as the nose of the airplane pitches up too steeply to recover before stalling.

    The surprise makes it impossible for even a flight instructor to wrest the controls away from the student  in time to save themselves.

    The Wolk Law Firm obtained the largest aviation verdict of all time against Cessna for just such an accident. We are litigating another such crash that occurred in West Virginia under similar circumstances. In that accident the flight instructor’s seat slipped rearward on takeoff and the student was seriously injured though the flight instructor perished.

    The Wolk Law Firm provided Cessna with a fix for this problem back in 1984 to no avail and again in the 1990’s again to no avail. There are still thousands of Cessna single engine airplanes out there with legacy seats that run the risk of similar accidents. The problem is the steel pins used to restrain the seats ride on aluminum rails which rapidly become worn such that the seat can slip. It happens on takeoff because the seat bends and ratchets out of the seat attachment hole as it is a flimsy design.

    So long as Cessna makes no necessary changes these accidents will continue to happen and young pilots and student pilots will be killed and injured needlessly.

    May the memory of  Viktoria Ljungman be a blessing to her family and hopefully her student will fully recover from his injuries.

    Arthur Alan Wolk

    October 10, 2022

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    In Memoriam F.T. Bradshaw

    In everyone’s life there are a handful of people who make a difference. Tom Bradshaw was just such a person for me. He was the President of Halton Hall, a first-class insurance agency specializing in aviation insurance risks. What no one else could get underwritten, Tom by his very stature in the industry could get done.

    His loyalty is legendary. If you treated him, his company and more important his insurance industry base with dignity, fairness and honesty there was no better representative.

    In this world there are few people who make their mark so indelibly that others are amazed at how much they have achieved with such dignity.

    F.T. Bradshaw, Tom, will be sorely missed.

    May his memory be a blessing to his family, his employees and colleagues.

    Arthur Alan Wolk

    September 14th, 2022

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    Old airplanes by definition have been around for a long time. There is something charming about flying in a vintage airplane put to use in romantic settings.

    There’s a problem though. Old airplanes break a lot! No matter how much maintenance, how many modifications, upgrades and replaced parts there have been old airplanes just fail more frequently than new ones do and new ones fail a lot.

    The problem with old airplanes is that seals get dry, gaskets rot, rubber parts harden and crack, composite parts wear out and even metal gets fatigue from expansion and contraction due to temperature changes and pressure changes and simply from moving and working the metal into brittleness.

    Often, modifications are made through STC’s, a process that allows changes to an airplane with much less scrutiny than the original certification process which is bad enough, often allowing the manufacturers themselves, through the honor system, to essentially certify their own aircraft.

    The Cessna Citation 501 has been around since the 1970’s and pressurization problems were reported in this aircraft.

    Oxygen masks should have been sufficient for the crew to have landed without incident but for some reason the pilot chose to fly in a circuitous route before crashing into the sea. Oxygen deprivation is serious business and the outcomes are usually not good. Pressurization in light jets is accomplished by taking air off the engines and sending it into the front of the cabin and controlling its exit through outflow valves in the rear. The failure of either the entry controls or exit controls means pressurization failure which can mean loss of useful consciousness in as little as 20 seconds. Quick donning of the oxygen masks for the crew and a sufficient supply of oxygen for everyone is critical.


    The De Havilland Otter is the workhorse airplane for odd places. It carries a lot, like 9 people or more and loads of cargo. In fact, it has so many STC’s its hard to count the many ways that it has been modified to carry more revenue producing people and cargo. Its engine was a turbine so the aircraft’s

    old reciprocating engine was replaced with a much newer turboprop which would allow it to carry even more people and freight. The airplane however was sixty years old or more. Lots of them have been modified with floats or skis so they can be landed on water, ice and snow.  They have been used safely for decades. But they also crash a  lot because of the harsh environments in which they are used.

    The Wolk Law Firm represents the families of a tragic fatal accident in Homer Alaska where the float of a De Havilland Beaver ( a smaller version of the Otter) became detached during takeoff causing the airplane to cartwheel and sink. The float was almost new, the attaching wires were almost new but because of poor and inadequate design the old airplane crashed. As an Airplane Transport Pilot Single and Multi-Engine Sea, I can say that taking off and landing on water can be challenging especially when things go wrong. While most think water is soft, it has little compressibility and can be as hard as concrete so a walk-away from a seaplane crash is no guarantee. Moreover, seaplanes operate in harsh and typically salty environments which wreaks havoc on metal parts. Salt can corrode metal spars and other aluminum parts so they are understrength. One multi-engine seaplane crashed in Florida killing all aboard because of corrosion of its main wing spar and a wing fell off.

    The NTSB recovered much of the wreckage of the Otter and did find a failed stabilizer trim part that can explain the loss of control. The horizontal stabilizer is used to provide pitch stability and to trim pitch forces by moving its leading edge up or down. Disconnection can result in loss of pitch control which has happened before in other aircraft including an Alaska Airlines MD-80 that crashed into the Pacific years ago.

    Old airplanes are difficult to maintain and fail catastrophically. The airlines learned this and renew their fleets more frequently now.

    There is no coincidence that both were very old and old airplanes just like people don’t live forever.

    There is no doubt that inadequate maintenance will have contributed to these accidents and perhaps defective design or manufacture. No airplane accident has one cause.

    To the families of those who did not survive, may their memories be a blessing.

    Arthur Alan Wolk

    September 5, 2022

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    A Cirrus SR22 piloted by an experienced and well-respected pilot was on approach to Wings Field, Blue Bell Pennsylvania when it suddenly lost power requiring an emergency landing on a golf course.

    Both occupants survived though injured. This crash is important because the pilot survived. He will be able to explain his power loss which prevented him from achieving enough power to even maintain level flight. Plenty of fuel, no expense spared for maintenance but yet another two occupants were nearly killed when the powerplant failed.

    There have been more than 100 losses of power in this model Cirrus. Many have been killed or injured and while the aircraft has a ballistic recovery system, a parachute that can be used to lower the aircraft to the ground safely, many pilots either cannot or are reluctant to pull that handle because it works only about 80% of the time and destroys the airplane.

    The solution for Cirrus is to do away with this unreliable powerplant and develop with partners or buy an off-the-shelf turboprop powerplant which has immense reliability compared to the turbo-normalized piston powerplant it used in this model. Later models used an even more unreliable turbo-charged engine. A turboprop engine is a jet engine attached to a propeller and does not suffer the unreliability issues that piston engines do.

    That switch would increase the cost of the aircraft which is now expensive at a million dollars each but each accident costs Cirrus millions to defend and compensate so the cost benefit should be obvious.

    The impact on the victims and their families is unspeakable and morally there is no choice but to improve the Cirrus and its safety record.

    The Wolk Law Firm has litigated many Cirrus loss of power accidents and while the NTSB will no doubt find nothing to explain this power loss, we recommend looking carefully at the turbo, its bearing and controller, the fuel pump and its controller and whether the exhaust system was functioning as it should just prior to the crash. Absent a catastrophic failure of the crankshaft, a broken rod or a hole burnt into a piston, it is likely the more obtuse causes that explain this sudden loss of power.

    Cirrus is now explaining away the accident by claiming that the pilot ran out of gas. Well he didn’t. In fact, he stopped in South Carolina for fuel and was only 3 hours into the flight when the engine lost power, it never quit, it just couldn’t maintain flight. That’s how airplane manufacturers work. After spending the better part of a million dollars with them, they become your adversary when the defects they built in cause a crash.

    Kudos to the pilot who successfully made an off-airport landing.

    Arthur Alan Wolk


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