The Risk of Hydraulic System Failures in Aviation: Causes, Prevention, and Legal Implications

by | Feb 1, 2023 | Aviation Accident, Firm News

Hydraulic system failures are a critical threat to aviation safety, as these systems are essential for controlling various aircraft functions, including flight control surfaces, landing gear, and brakes. Understanding the causes of hydraulic system failures, implementing effective prevention measures, and recognizing the legal implications are vital for enhancing aviation safety and providing support for those affected by such incidents. This article explores the causes of hydraulic system failures in aviation, discusses preventive strategies, and outlines the legal recourse available for victims.

Causes of Hydraulic System Failures

Hydraulic system failures in aviation can occur due to a variety of factors, including design flaws, manufacturing defects, improper maintenance, and operational issues. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Leaks: Hydraulic fluid leaks are a major cause of system failures. Leaks can occur due to damaged seals, hoses, or fittings, resulting in a loss of hydraulic pressure and impaired functionality of the system. Regular inspections and maintenance are essential to identify and address leaks.
  • Contaminated Fluid: Contaminants such as dirt, metal particles, and water can enter the hydraulic fluid, causing blockages, corrosion, and wear on system components. Contaminated fluid can lead to the malfunction or failure of hydraulic components, compromising system performance.
  • Component Wear and Tear: Hydraulic system components, such as pumps, valves, actuators, and cylinders, are subject to wear and tear over time. Regular use and exposure to high pressure and temperatures can degrade these components, leading to system failures if not properly maintained and replaced.
  • Overheating: Hydraulic systems can overheat due to excessive use, inadequate cooling, or blocked cooling systems. Overheating can cause the hydraulic fluid to break down and lose its lubricating properties, leading to increased friction, wear, and potential system failure.
  • Design and Manufacturing Defects: Design flaws or manufacturing defects in hydraulic system components can result in premature failure or inadequate performance. Ensuring that components meet stringent quality standards and specifications is crucial for system reliability.

Prevention Measures

Preventing hydraulic system failures requires a comprehensive approach that includes regular maintenance, thorough inspections, and proper operational procedures. Key prevention measures include:

  • Regular Maintenance and Inspections: Adhering to a strict maintenance schedule is essential for ensuring the reliability of hydraulic systems. Regular inspections can identify potential issues, such as leaks, contamination, and wear, before they lead to failures. Maintenance should be performed by certified professionals following manufacturer guidelines and industry standards.
  • Fluid Quality Control: Ensuring the quality and purity of hydraulic fluid is critical for system performance. Using clean, high-quality hydraulic fluid and regularly changing it according to manufacturer recommendations can prevent contamination-related issues. Employing filtration systems can also help maintain fluid cleanliness.
  • Component Monitoring and Replacement: Regularly monitoring the condition of hydraulic system components, such as pumps, valves, and actuators, can help detect signs of wear and impending failure. Timely replacement of worn or damaged components is crucial to maintaining system reliability and preventing failures.
  • Cooling System Maintenance: Ensuring that the hydraulic cooling system is functioning correctly and free from blockages is essential to prevent overheating. Regularly inspecting and maintaining cooling systems can help prevent temperature-related failures.
  • Design and Manufacturing Standards: Adhering to stringent design and manufacturing standards can help prevent defects and ensure the reliability of hydraulic system components. Working with reputable suppliers and manufacturers who follow industry best practices is essential.

Legal Implications and Recourse for Victims

Hydraulic system failures can lead to severe accidents and significant legal consequences. Understanding the legal implications is essential for victims seeking compensation. Key legal considerations include:

  • Airline Responsibility: Airlines are responsible for the proper maintenance and operation of their aircraft’s hydraulic systems. Failure to perform regular maintenance or address known issues can result in legal liability. Victims of accidents caused by hydraulic system failures may seek compensation from the airline for negligence.
  • Manufacturer Liability: Aircraft and component manufacturers can be held liable if design flaws or manufacturing defects in the hydraulic system contribute to an accident. Legal actions can be taken to hold manufacturers accountable for providing defective products that fail to meet safety standards.
  • Maintenance Provider Liability: Third-party maintenance providers may be liable if inadequate maintenance or improper repairs lead to hydraulic system failures. Ensuring that maintenance providers adhere to industry standards and manufacturer guidelines is crucial for preventing these issues.
  • Supplier Liability: Suppliers of hydraulic fluid and components can be held responsible if contaminated fluid or defective parts lead to system failure. Ensuring that supplied products meet stringent quality standards is essential to prevent failures.

Victims of accidents caused by hydraulic system failures may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. Consulting with an experienced aviation accident attorney is crucial to navigating the legal process and building a strong case.


Hydraulic system failures pose significant risks in aviation, but understanding their causes and implementing comprehensive prevention strategies can help mitigate these hazards. Regular maintenance, fluid quality control, component monitoring, cooling system maintenance, and adherence to design and manufacturing standards are essential components of ensuring hydraulic system reliability. For those affected by hydraulic system failures, seeking legal advice from a knowledgeable attorney is vital to securing the compensation and support needed for recovery. If you or a loved one has been impacted by an aviation accident due to a hydraulic system failure, contact our experienced attorneys today to learn more about your legal rights and options.

Spagnoletti Law Firm has attorneys licensed in Texas, Florida, New Mexico and New York.  We have handled numerous cases involving the failure of necessary equipment on a plane or helicopter in both federal and state court across the country.  When it comes to aviation, safety must come first.  Our attorneys have extensive experience in plane and helicopter crash litigation and the skills needed to aggressively represent the families of loved ones who have lost their lives or those who have been seriously injured in a plane or helicopter crash.  The experienced aviation attorneys at Spagnoletti Law Firm can help you understand your rights if you or a loved one was a victim of a crash. Please contact us online or call 713-804-9306 or to learn more about your legal rights.