How do I get a copy of a private plane’s “black box” tape? Our private jet had a runway skid and we want to hear the tape.

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I was injured when my company’s private plane (small, 6 passengers) skidded on the runway as we were landing.  We didn’t have to be rescued – he got the plane back under control and we got to the gate without further problems.  I have had neck and back pain ever since this happened, and I’m going to have to get continuing medical treatments that are not covered by my insurance.  I want my employer to pay these extra costs, but they’re saying they don’t have to pay because my injuries were not caused by their flight crew.   But, I was sitting right behind the cockpit and I swear I heard the pilot say “oh no, I [expletive] this up” right before the skid happened.   Did the black box in the plane pick up what he said, and is my attorney going to be able to make them give us a copy of the tape?


Unfortunately, small private plane accident litigation is more complex in large part because general aviation aircraft with 10 or less seats are not required to carry the “black box(es)” – i.e., cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder – found on commercial flights.   However, an experienced aviation attorney may be able to gather other evidence that indicates that the runway skid was caused by flight crew negligence.  Unlike commercial air carriers, private or general aviators are not required by federal law to maintain a heightened standard of care toward passengers.  The law treats a general aviation pilot much like the operator of a motor vehicle, requiring that the pilot use reasonable care to prevent accident or injury. To hold your employer responsible for the skid, your attorney will need to prove it failed to use reasonable care in operating or maintaining the aircraft.