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March 2011 Archives

Construction at O'Hare poses flight safety risk

When a FedEx airplane taxied out to takeoff from Chicago's O'Hare airport, a preflight check determined that the plane was too heavy to use the runway to which it was originally assigned because that runway was only 8,000 feet long. Air traffic controllers gave the flight the option of a new runway and the plane prepared for takeoff. They began accelerating down the new runway unaware that a blast fence had been erected for the runway construction, shortening the runway to only 6,000 feet. The pilots were surprised as the moved down the runway and saw the fence quickly approaching. The plane was already moving too fast to stop in time to avoid the fence so the pilots took the plane into the air as quickly as possible narrowly missing the blast fence. They were close enough though that the exhaust from the engines blew away the blast fence.

More finger pointing regarding napping air traffic controller incident

You likely heard about a situation last week in which two airline flights, including one from Chicago, landed at Reagan National airport without the assistance of the air traffic controller who had dozed off. Fortunately both plans landed safely, but now there are rumblings within the airline industry about what should happen when a situation like this arises.

United States District Court Issues Payments to Victims of Contaminated Heparin Syringes

In 2007 Illinois-based pharmaceutical company AM2 PAT, Inc. manufactured heparin-filled syringes contaminated with the dangerous bacteria serratia marcescens then sold the dangerous syringes to various distributors who provided them to unsuspecting patients. Many of the patients who used the syringes became seriously ill from exposure to the bacteria. The victims looked to AM2 PAT and the suppliers to compensate them for the injuries, medical expenses and other losses caused by the contaminated syringes. The majority of these cases are pending in Chicago where the Circuit Court of Cook County has appointed the product liability lawyers of Rapoport Law Offices, P.C. as liaison counsel on behalf of all of the victims nationwide.

United plane that caught fire was flown without being repaired

During a flight last may, about 30 minutes after takeoff, flames shot into the cockpit from the window of a United Airlines airplane with 112 passengers on board, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune. The flames extended 14 to 16 inches into the cockpit from the window near the captain. The captain quickly grabbed a nearby fire extinguisher to douse the flames, but after he initially had them under control, they reignited. A flight attendant brought him another fire extinguisher which he also emptied in an attempt to put out the fire. As the plane headed to Dulles Airport for an emergency landing, the inner pane of the window in front of the captain shattered. The first officer then took control of the plane and landed it safely.

Two killed in Southern Wisconsin Airplane crash

The Chicago Tribune reports that two people were killed in a fatal airplane accident yesterday at about 6:30 in the evening. The crash occurred in south central Wisconsin about 15 miles from Baraboo. The plane had taken off from an airport in Lake in the Hills, Illinois.

New study examines aircraft accidents and airline employee drug use

A new study finds that an airline employee who has been involved in an accident is three times more likely to test positive for drugs than an employee who is not involved in an aircraft accident. The study was conducted by researchers at John Hopkins University School of Health and The Columbia University College of Physicians and is currently being prepared for journal publication.

Milwaukee woman killed, four injured as semi crashes into bus

In Wisconsin on Saturday night, a 75-year-old Milwaukee woman was killed and four others injured in an accident involving a semi tractor-trailer and a charter bus. The accident occurred about 50 miles northwest of Milwaukee at about 7:00 pm. Highway 33, on which the accident took place, was closed for almost ten hours.

FDA issues stronger warning of Topamax birth defect risk

New data has prompted the Food and Drug Administration to warn of an increased risk of cleft palette or cleft lip in infants born to mothers who are taking Topamax during the first trimester of pregnancy. Infants exposed to the drug during the first trimester are several times more likely to develop an oral cleft birth defect.

Chicago Executive Airport cleared for new runway safety systems

As you may know, the south end of the main runway at the Chicago Executive Airport ends very near to Palatine Road. The owners of the airport, Prospect Heights and Wheeling, have now approved the installation of a runway safety system to be installed at both ends of the runways to help stop airplanes that overshoot the runways.

Study finds current semi-truck rear impact guards are ineffective

When an automobile collides with the rear of a semi-truck trailer it can cause devastating injuries and fatalities. The increased risk is a result of the height of the trailer compared to the car. The hood of most passenger cars are low enough to slide below the deck of the trailer so that the force of the impact goes directly into the windshield and upper part of the passenger compartment of the car. These types of crashes are known as 'underride' accidents.

Supreme Court allows defective seat belt design lawsuit to proceed

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the family of a passenger that was killed in a car accident while wearing a lap-only seat belt could bring a lawsuit against the vehicle manufacturer. The plaintiffs argued that by manufacturing the vehicle without shoulder belts for all passengers, the manufacturer was negligent in its design of the vehicle. The manufacturer, Mazda, argued that the family was barred from bringing a lawsuit because the company had complied with federal seat belt regulations in place at the time the vehicle was made.

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