Kreindler & Kreindler LLP is investigating the AtlasJet tragedy and is determining the best legal options for victim families. We are working with prominent Turkish counsel in this important effort. Our partners, Anthony Tarricone, Justin Green and Daniel Rose are leading the Kreindler team responding to the disaster.
The crash of AtlasJet Flight #KK4203 on November 30, 2007 in Isparta, Turkey was attributed to "pilot error" by several Turkish news organizations several days following the disaster. No plane crash is that simple to explain.
The MD-83 airplane, which was designed and manufactured in the United States, was en route from Istanbul south to Isparta when it crashed into mountainous terrain shortly after midnight on approach to the airport. All 57 people on board were killed. Minutes before the crash, the pilot reported having the airport in sight, and there was no indication of abnormalities with the approach. The flight data and cockpit voice recorders were recovered, but reports indicate that neither recorder contained any useful information.
Pilot error is a finding that suggests the flight crew made a mistake during the approach and caused the crash. But aviation disasters are seldom the result of a single negligent act or omission. Most crashes have several contributing factors and conditions - often involving the flight crew, aircraft systems, and, in the case of a crash during approach to an airport, both aircraft - and land-based navigational systems and components. In the case of Flight KK4203, several unexplained circumstances suggest that this accident deserves close scrutiny before any reliable conclusions can be reached concerning the contributing causes and responsible parties.
On August 18, 2007, this same airplane, Turkish registration TC-AKN, was flying for AtlasJet when it was hijacked after departure from Northern Cyprus. The hijackers claimed they had a bomb and demanded to be flown to Iran. When the pilot landed in Antalya, Turkey for refueling the hijackers surrendered after a five hour standoff.
Curiously, just two months before the hijacking the same airplane had been leased to an Iranian operator, Iran Air Tour, and in October of this year the 13-year old American built jetliner was leased to yet another operator, Eritrean Airlines.
It had been returned to the AtlasJet fleet only briefly when the November accident occurred in Isparta.
Aside from the rapid and repeated changing of operators, World Focus, the company which owned the airplane, had itself changed hands and was purchased by investors from Turkey and the United States in early 2007.
The most obvious question arising from this tragedy is why the pilots were not on the proper course of flight to safely reach the runway where they intended to land.
Investigators will want to know what instructions Air Traffic Controllers gave the pilots concerning Flight KK 4203's approach to the airport, what airport navigational aids were operating at the time, and the condition of the navigational equipment on the airplane. Radar data and recordings of the communications between the cockpit crew and Air Traffic Controllers are especially important because both the Cockpit Voice and Flight Data Records failed to record any useful information - a circumstance that is unusual and has not been explained by the authorities involved in the investigation. The Flight Data and Cockpit Voice Recorders are the airplanes' eyes and ears, providing valuable information about the configuration, condition and activity of the airplane's systems and crew during the flight and just before the crash. The failure of both recorders raises serious questions about the maintenance of the airplane by its owners and operators.
To people who lost loved ones on AtlasJet flight KK4203, what happened is the most pressing question. They deserve a conscientious and thorough investigation by the aviation safety authorities. Only after more information is collected and analyzed can the families begin to think about who should be held accountable for this tragic disaster.
Aviation accident litigation is often multinational in nature, involving a number of countries: those where the victims lived and worked, the nations where the plane and its components were manufactured and the countries where the airline performed its operations and maintenance.
Kreindler & Kreindler has more than fifty years experience in international aviation disaster litigation, handling dozens of accidents around the world including a number of recent cases in the region:
Helios Airways Flight 522, Greece, August 2005
Birgenair B-757, Flight 301, off Dominican Republic, 1996
Egyptair B-767, Flight 990, Atlantic Ocean, 1999
Kam Air B-737 Feb 7, 2005
Kreindler & Kreindler LLP upholds the highest traditions of legal ethics. It does not abuse victims' families by sending lawyers to their doors or by calling them without invitation. Our clients come to us because of our proven results in international aviation cases. We work honestly and faithfully to achieve justice for them.