Preparing for the Worst-Case Scenario

Several years ago we wrote about “the phone call.” An ominous occurrence that hopefully not many of you have experienced. The phone call referred to in that piece is the dreaded call informing you that an aircraft you have had in your facility, or perhaps even worked on or signed off yourself, has been involved in aircraft incident or accident. In that piece we explored the more personal side of what it is like to receive such a phone call and the aftermath. A seasoned A&P mechanic who had experienced that scenario wrote the piece and it was sobering.

In this issue, we wanted to look at the issue from a broader perspective. We asked some experts what a business or individual should do when that happens. We talked to the FAA, the NTSB, former NTSB accident investigators, insurance providers and, of course, lawyers. Often, notification can come well after the actual event. Sometimes, you might not even know anything was amiss until the plaintiff’s attorneys have gotten hold of the case and searched for a possible cash cow to act as scapegoat for the survivors (and their own pockets).

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a lawyer hater. We need them and the ability to sue when someone or a company has truly been negligent and those cases do exist.

But, we also know the other side of that story. Anyone and any company that has had anything to do with that crashed aircraft is likely to be named in a lawsuit, even if no clear connection to the event exists.

Our story on planning for the worst-case scenario of this type offers sound advice from leaders in the field. If your company hasn’t looked at your worst-case scenario plan in a while, read the story and perhaps incorporate some of the suggestions into your updated plan. That story begins on page 20.
We also wanted to take a look at working with the authorities when it’s business as usual. As the regulator for our industry, the FAA is a constant touchstone for us in the maintenance world. But, as I have heard time after time over the years, some offices are better than others. Some are more efficient. Some are impossible. As one experienced operator put it to me, “These offices seem to be independently owned and operated.”

Tales have been told of similar requests from similar companies going into the FAA system only to have one resolved in a matter of days while the other languished for months. Why does this happen? Is there anything you can do to ameliorate the relationship you have with the FAA?


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