Causes of Crashes

Whether in light or commercial plane crashes, the pilot (flight crew in commercial planes) should have a complete toxicological screen for the presence of alcohol; acid, basic, and neutral drugs; alkaline drugs; narcotics; carbon monoxide and, possibly, marijuana. Generally, one is looking for drugs, not in toxic levels, but in therapeutic levels that could impair reflexes and thinking to a degree sufficient to contribute to or cause the accident. Because of this, very sensitive and specific methods of analysis must be utilized in the toxicological screen. Only rarely will natural disease or drugs play a role in airplane crashes. When they do, virtually all instances involve light planes. For the most part, airplane crashes are due to pilot error, mechanical defects, weather, or a combination of these factors. In light planes, there is often use of poor judgment, such as flying in inappropriate weather.

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