Aerospace accidents often result in severe or fatal injuries, with a variety of questions associated with their cause and progression. Was the accident the result of a human error, or a design or mechanical flaw in the aircraft? Were there external conditions which contributed to the accident? How did occupants move and experience forces during the incident, and were the conditions sufficient to cause injuries? NBI’s accident reconstruction and biomechanics experts are able to assess these questions through a variety of scientific approaches tailored to the conditions of each case.

Accident reconstruction and human factors analyses conducted by NBI’s experts can provide answers to many questions related to the causes and events during an aviation accident. Any available information about the pre-accident condition of the aircraft may be used to determine human or mechanical errors associated with the accident. Additionally, circumstances of the accident, including visibility, weather, and experience of the user may be found to be relevant to the its cause. Because aerospace accidents can involve a wide variety of aircraft types, including commercial and private planes, helicopters, and non-powered devices (parachutes, hang gliders, etc.), a variety of techniques are used by NBI’s experts to assess accident conditions.

In some cases, as with most planes and helicopters, data are recorded prior to a crash, enabling our experts to determine what occurred before and during an accident. In instances with less definite pre-accident information, the analysis may be approached by considering several possible scenarios, and determining the likelihood of events based on evidence and research conducted by our experts. If possible, an inspection of the condition of the aircraft, as well as physical evidence associated with the accident, can further inform NBI’s experts of accident conditions. NBI’s experts are experienced in performing a variety of analyses to determine, within a degree of scientific certainty, how and why an aviation accident occurred.

NBI’s biomechanics experts are experienced in relating accident conditions to forces experienced by the human body throughout the event, providing insight into the potential for injury. Conditions determined through accident reconstruction analysis are analyzed to determine the effect on the body through a variety of techniques, including mechanical analyses and computational simulations. This general practice is applied to aerospace-related accidents, with specific considerations related to the nature of the events. The kinematics and forces associated with a free-fall, for example, are considered in addition to other accident factors in cases where a significant loss of altitude was experienced.

As aerospace accidents are associated with a wide range of injuries, the biomechanical analyses used in these cases are varied and specific to the accident type and injuries being considered. NBI’s experts are practiced in analyzing a variety of injuries, including those most common to aerospace accidents, extremity fractures and head injuries. Forces experienced by the body throughout the accident or as a result of direct impact are analyzed and compared to injury tolerances, with consideration to the pre-accident condition of the individual as well as loading conditions. Through these accident-specific analysis techniques, our experts are able to comment on the potential for injury in an aerospace accident.

Leading Experts


Felix Lee, MS, PE

Caitlin McCleery, ME