The Firm's Practice Areas Attorney biographies and contact information. Verdicts & Settlements History of the Firm Frquently Asked Questions News Contact Us
Practice Areas » Aviation » Major Carriers

Major Carriers

Our cumulative experience in aviation disasters dates back to the crash of Turkish Airlines Flight 981 near Paris in 1974. We have represented hundreds of families of passengers and crew in aviation accidents from around the world. Members of the Firm have served on Plaintiffs' Committees of major disasters such as TWA Flight 800, EgyptAir Flight 990 and Alaska Airlines Flight 261.

While the Firm has been selected by victims' families in numerous major airliner accidents, including EgyptAir Flight 990, Alaska Airlines Flight 261, and American Airlines Flight 587, we have also represented the families of crewmembers in disasters such as TWA Flight 800, Comair Flight 3272, American Eagle Flight 4184, Air Philippines Flight 541, and the entire crew of the Concorde accident (near Paris, France).

The following map and flight list correspond to some of the major cases in which O'Reilly & Danko attorneys represented clients over the past thirty–three years. Click either a flight number from the list below or a location on the map to see a description of the accident.
Adam Air Flight 574 Flash Air Flight 604 American Airlines Flight 587 United Airlines Flight 811 Air New Zealand Flight 2337 Ansett Airlines Flight 703 Pan Am Flight 816 Pan Am Flight 806 Air Philippines Flight 541 Pan Am Flight 1736 Turkish Airlines Flight 981 Air France - Concorde Arrow Airways Flight 1285 EgyptAir Flight 990 TWA Flight 800 TWA Flight 843 Comair Airlines 3272 American Eagle Flight 4184 Sun Valley Air Flight 115 Alaska Airlines Flight 261 Sierra Pacific Flight 802 Big Island Air Flight 58
Adam Air Flight 574
Adam Air Flight 574
Date: January 1, 2007
Location: Sulawesi, Indonesia
Aircraft: Boeing 737-400
Aboard: 102
Fatalities: no survivors have been found.
Synopsis: Adamair 571, an aged Boeing 737 leased by this startup discount carrier, left Jakarta for Manudo, on the Island of Sulawesi, on January 1, 2007. The aircraft encountered thunderstorms, which are common this time of year, and diverted to avoid them. Then the aircraft disappeared from radar. Portions of wreckage have been found floating in the Straits but no main wreckage has been found, nor have the black boxes been located. No survivors have been found. Again, there are obvious similarities with past 737 accidents, most often blamed on the vertical stabilizer.
Alaska Airlines Flight 261
Date: January 31, 2000
Location: Pt. Mugu, California
Aircraft: Boeing MD-83
Aboard: 88
Fatalities: 88
Synopsis: Flight 261 departed Puerto Vallarta, Mexico bound for San Francisco. In flight, the plane experienced severe instability, due primarily to the installation of a worn-out screw on the tail's horizontal elevator. After Alaska denied permission for the aircraft to land at LAX, the tail failed off Point Mugu and the aircraft crashed in the Pacific Ocean. There were no survivors.
Air France - Concorde Flight 4590
Date: July 25, 2000
Location: Paris, France
Aircraft: Aerospatiale Concorde V. 101
Aboard: 109
Fatalities: 113
Synopsis: Departing from Paris, the Concorde ran over a strip of titanium which had fallen off a Continental DC-10 moments earlier. The Concorde's pressurized tire ripped apart, showering pieces of rubber through the wing tanks and igniting a fire invisible to the pilot's in the cockpit. The aircraft crashed a minute after departing Charles de Gaulle Airport. All aboard the aircraft and four on the ground were killed.
Air New Zealand Flight 2337
Date: March 29, 1995
Location: Hamilton, New Zealand
Aircraft: Beech Queen Air 65-A80-8800
Aboard: 6
Fatalities: 6
Synopsis: The Beech Queen Air Excalibur - operated by Kiwi West Aviation - departed Hamilton, NZ for New Plymouth, NZ when thirteen minutes into the flight it stalled and spun from a low altitude trajectory after both engines failed due to fuel starvation. The aircraft-type, criticized by the NTSB for its confusing fuel controls which had caused crashes in the U.S., was never modified by its manufacturer, Beech.
American Eagle Flight 4184
Date: October 31, 1994
Location: Roselawn, Indiana
Aircraft: ATR-72-212
Aboard: 68
Fatalities: 68
Synopsis: The aircraft, while descending in a holding pattern at 8000 feet, experienced an uncommanded roll and loss of control of the aircraft due to structural icing. The pilot's operating manual lacked adequate information concerning the known effects of frozen precipitation on the stability and control characteristics of the aircraft.
Air Philippines Flight 541
Date: April 19, 2000
Location: Samal Island, Philippines
Aircraft: Boeing 737-200
Aboard: 131
Fatalities: 131
Synopsis: AP 541, a worn-out 737 leased by Chicago leasing firm, AAR, crashed on an island in Davao Bay on Mindanao. The aircraft had been discarded by Southwest after extensive service but continued to operate without the necessary major maintenance. AAR refused to release maintenance funds. Boeing refused to provide flight manuals. Nonetheless, the aircraft was put into commuter service in the Phillipines. Immediately after the accident, Air Phillipines had the wreckage destroyed and buried.

The firm fought to keep the case in the United States and after the Illinois Supreme Court held jurisdiction in Chicago. O'Reilly & Danko now has 25 clients before the trial court. A trial date is expected in 2007.
Ansett Airlines Flight 703
Date: June 9, 1995
Location: Palmerston, New Zealand
Aircraft: de Havilland DHC-8-102
Aboard: 18
Fatalities: 5
Synopsis: Flight 703 crashed in the hills some 16 km east of Palmerston North Aerodrome when the pilot's attempted an instument approach in bad weather. During this approach, the Ground Proximity Warning System - manufactured by Sunstrand - failed and the aircraft slid onto a hilltop short of the runway.
Arrow Airways Flight MF1285R
Date: December 12, 1985
Location: Near Gander Newfoundland, Canada
Aircraft: Douglas DC-8 Super 63PF
Aboard: 256
Fatalities: 256
Synopsis: The aircraft, carrying U.S. military personnel, crashed during takeoff. Though it appears the pilots lost control of the aircraft due to airframe icing, some evidence suggests the detonation of an explosive device in a cargo compartment may have caused the crash.
Big Island Air, Inc. Flight 58
Date: September 25, 1999
Location: Volcano, Hawaii
Aircraft: Piper PA-31-350 (Chieftan)
Aboard: 10
Fatalities: 10
Synopsis: The pilot and all nine passengers were killed when they crashed into the northeast slope of the Mauna Loa Volcano during a sight-seeing tour. The pilot attempted an illegal instrument flight across the central saddle between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. Sadly, this crash was yet another in a series of accidents in Hawaii where tour aircraft and helicopters crashed into terrain after dangerously low flight.
Comair Airlines Flight 3272
Date: January 09, 1997
Location: Monroe, Michigan
Aircraft: Embraer EMB-120RT
Aboard: 29
Fatalities: 29
Synopsis: Flight 3272 crashed 19 nm southwest of Detroit's Wayne County Airport in freezing rain. The aircraft's de-icing system was unable to remove the ice accumulation on the leading edges. After the crash, it was determined the FAA's testing and certification of the deicing system were deficient. In addition, the pilots had not been briefed by the airline on appropriate emergency procedures.
EgyptAir Flight 990
Date: October 31, 1999
Location: off Nantucket, MA
Aircraft: Boeing 767-366-ER
Aboard: 217
Fatalities: 217
Synopsis: Flight 990 departed JFK bound for Cairo, Egypt. Sixty miles south of Nantucket, MA, the airplane entered a steep vertical descent and ultimately crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. The cause of the crash continues to be hotly disputed: the NTSB contends the most likely scenerio was actions by the first officer, while the Egyptian Government suspects the elevator system malfunctioned. All aboard the aircraft were killed.
United Airlines Flight 811
Date: February 24, 1989
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Aircraft: Boeing B-747-122
Aboard: 356
Fatalities: 9
Synopsis: After a stopover in Honolulu from Los Angeles, Flight 811, bound for Sydney, Australia, lost a forward lower cargo door in-flight. The loss of the door resulted in explosive decompression and failure of the No. 3 and 4 engines. Nine passengers were sucked out of the plane and lost at sea, but the plane landed safely. The cargo door malfuncted due to a faulty switch which permitted the door actuator latches to move towards the unlatched position after the door had been closed.
TWA Flight 843
Date: July 30, 1992
Location: Jamaica, NY
Aircraft: Lockheed L-1011-385-1
Aboard: 292
Fatalities: 0
Synopsis: TWA flight 843 slid into the bay at the end of Boston's Logan Airport after an aborted take-off on an icy runway.
TWA Flight 800
Date: July 17, 1996
Location: East Moriches, NY
Aircraft: Boeing 747-131
Aboard: 230
Fatalities: 230
Synopsis: Flight 800 left JFK for Charles De Gaulle Airport when, shortly after take-off, it experienced a fuel/air explosion in the center wing fuel tank and subsequent structural break-up over the Atlantic. According to the NTSB a short circuit allowed excessive voltage to enter the engine and engine design flaws could not reduce heat transfer or render the fuel vapor in the tank inflammable.
Turkish Airlines Flight 981
Date: March 3, 1974
Location: Bois d'Ermenonville, France
Aircraft: Douglas DC-10-10
Aboard: 346
Fatalities: 346
Synopsis: Flight 981 crashed shortly after takeoff from Orly Airport in Paris. An explosive decompression damaged the cabin floor and control cables when the plane lost its rear cargo door. The aircraft crashed into a nearby forest at high velocity. Prior to takeoff, both the service subcontractor and the flight engineer neglected to check the cargo door's locking mechanism through a recently installed viewport. Additionally, a recent service bulletin required the locking pin to be lengthened; on this aircraft, it was mistakenly shortened.
Sun Valley Airlines, Inc. Flight 115
Date: February 20, 1972
Location: Fairfield, ID
Aircraft: Beech 65B-80
Aboard: 5
Fatalities: 5
Synopsis: A Sun Valley Airlines commuter flight from Hailey to Boise, Idaho experienced a catastrophic engine failure in-flight. The subsequent fire resulted in the loss of the aircraft's left wing. The engine failure was the result of improper maintenance.
Pan American World Airways Flight 806
Date: January 30, 1974
Location: Pango Pango, American Samoa
Aircraft: Boeing B-707-321B
Aboard: 101
Fatalities: 97
Synopsis: The aircraft, on approach to Pango Pango International Airport, crashed into the treeline just short of the runway when the crew failed to correct an excessive rate of descent during ILS approach. Most aboard the aircraft survived the impact but succumbed to the post-crash fire.
Pan American World Airways Flight 1736 /
KLM Flight - 4805

Date: March 27, 1977
Location: Tenerife, Canary Islands
Aircraft: Boeing B-747-121 / B-747-206B
Aboard: 644
Fatalities: 583
Synopsis: A bomb explosion at Las Palmas Airport diverted both aircraft to Tenerife, where they experienced an extended delay. The Pan Am plane, instructed to taxi on the runway, missed the runway due to heavy fog. Meanwhile, the KLM plane, without clearance, taxied to the end of the runway to takeoff. The collision which occurred moments after the KLM plane left the runway resulted in the largest death toll in aviation history.
Sierra Pacific Airlines Flight 802
Date: March 13, 1974
Location: Bishop, California
Aircraft: Convair 440
Aboard: 36
Fatalities: 36
Synopsis: A David Wolper film crew, bound for LAX, crashed outside Bishop, California. The take-off from Bishop, located in a deep valley, was uniquely difficult in two ways: the airway was without any usuable radio signal below 12,000 feet and the departure procedure permitted only a two mile deviation when climbing to safe altitude. The FAA clerk who drafted the procedure never visited the field; rather, he relied entirely on sectional charts. In pitch darkness, with no margin for error, the safe navigation of a plane the size of the Convair proved impossible.
Flash Airlines Flight 604
Date: January 3, 2004
Location: Sharm el-Sheikh
Aircraft: Boeing 737
Aboard: 148
Fatalities: 148
Synopsis: This 737 departed Sharm-El-Shiekh in nighttime VFR conditions with a full load of French holidaymakers. The aircraft was observed to climb steadily to roughly 5,000ft and then to roll and crash into the sea. No survivors were found. There were no distress signals. The black box was discovered but the findings were hotly disputed by the Egyptian aviation authorities and Boeing and Honeywell. No agreement has resulted as to the cause of the accident although there are obvious similarities to the previous 737 disasters at Colorado Springs and Pittsburgh. The firm represented 9 passengers and several crew in this air disaster, which was settled with these clients in March 2005 for a confidential sum in eight figures. As to the passengers represented by another U.S. law firm, all claims were dismissed later by a federal court.
American Airlines Flight 587
Date: January 3, 2004
Location: Belle Harbor, New York
Aircraft: Airbus A300-600
Aboard: 251
Fatalities: 265 (Including 5 on the ground)
Synopsis: This Airbus 300-600 departed JFK and lost its vertical stabilizer, crashing in the residential neighborhood of Belle Harbor, New York. The crash occurred either because the pilots overreacted to wake turbulence or the composite construction of the rudder failed. The NTSB is not yet sure. The firm represented 22 families of passengers and has successfully settled these cases in a confidential sum.
Pan American Flight 816
Date: July 22, 1973
Location: Papeete, Tahiti
Aircraft: Boeing 707-321B
Aboard: 79
Fatalities: 78
Synopsis: Flight 861, bound for Los Angeles, crashed into the Pacific thirty seconds after take-off from Tahiti. It is possible the cause of the accident was an instrumentation failure that diverted the attention of the crew. Notably, one passenger survived when he was ejected through a hole in the airplane's structure post-impact.
Alaska Airlines Flight 261
Air France - Concorde
Air New Zealand Flight 2337
Air Philippines Flight 541
American Airlines Flight 587
American Eagle Flight 4184
Ansett Airlines Flight 703
Arrow Airways Flight 1285
Big Island Air Flight 58
Comair Airlines 3272
EgyptAir Flight 990
Flash Air Flight 604
Pan Am Flight 1736
Pan Am Flight 816
Pan Am Flight 806
Sierra Pacific Flight 802
Sun Valley Air Flight 115
Turkish Airlines Flight 981
TWA Flight 800
TWA Flight 843
United Airlines Flight 811