NC Aviation Law Attorney

NTSB Faults Pilot For Deadly Helicopter Crash In Maryland

In its final report released earlier this month, the National Transportation Safety Board stated pilot error was probably the cause of the helicopter crash on South Mountain on July 23, 2009. 

Four people were killed when the helicopter went down on the flight from Hagerstown to Frederick.  The NTSB says the pilot used poor judgment when he chose to make the flight on the dark night in adverse weather conditions even after talking with a fellow employee at Advanced Helicopter Concepts.   

The report states the helicopter took off after the Hagerstown air traffic control tower closed and entered an area of reduced visibility near the top of South Mountain.  It is thought it turned around and was headed back west when it hit power lines and crashed and burst into flames. 

This helicopter crash is a perfect example of how on board recording devices would help investigators know exactly what was decided in the cockpit.

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Posted by 1:22 pm

FAA Falls Short of Addressing Need for Cockpit, Data Recorders on All Helicopters, Says Raleigh, NC Aviation Attorney

Crouse Law Offices lawyer James T. Crouse says recorders’ data would prevent future accidents. 

Aviation accident attorney, James T. Crouse this week said the FAA ‘s propsed new rules for helicopter safety operators should have included a mandate for flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders on all helicopters.

“I applaud the FAA for these proposed changes which should help helicopter safety and should save lives,” says Crouse. “Despite the efforts of manufacturers, operators and government agencies, the helicopter accident rate has not seen a major improvement.”

Crouse, founder of Crouse Law Offices in Raleigh, is a former military pilot and an aviation accident lawyer with litigation experience involving major air carriers, general aviation, helicopter and military crashes.

Although the technology is readily available, the FAA has not mandated flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders on smaller aircraft, including helicopters, Crouse says.

“If this information were available, we could not only help the families of the victims of these terrible accidents, but we could use the information for prevention of future accidents,” Crouse says.

Stricter flight rules and procedures proposed by the Federal Aviation Administration on October 7 include improved communications and training, and additional on-board safety equipment for helicopters, including air ambulances. But the FAA has no plans to require flight data recorders or cockpit voice recorders on all helicopters or smaller fixed-wing aircraft.

Crouse says that flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders on smaller aircraft would help in post-accident analysis to determine the real causes of helicopter and plane crashes.

“Too often air safety investigators are left with trying to piece the facts together from wreckage scene components and other indirect data which can make the true cause difficult to determine,” Crouse says. “This often leads to blaming the pilot when, in fact, the aircraft and its systems might well have been at fault.”

The FAA’s proposal would require commercial helicopter operators to equip their helicopters with radio altimeters and additional equipment for over-water operations, and to demonstrate competencies pertaining to flying in inclement weather. Air ambulances would be required to have a Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning Systems on board, institute pre-flight risk-analysis programs and require various additional standards for training, certification and flight readiness.

Crouse says he favors more stringent rules than those proposed by the FAA.

“I believe the government should go further and mandate two pilots on all Part 135 helicopter operations, and insist on adequate ground-based flight following and operational management of medical helicopter operations, in addition to requiring flight recording devices on all light aircraft—helicopters and fixed-wing,” he says.

About Crouse Law Offices

Aviation accident lawyer James T. Crouse of Crouse Law Offices in Raleigh, North Carolina, has more than 35 years of aviation law experience. Crouse uses his extensive knowledge along with state-of-the-art forensic technology to investigate and recreate the events involved in aviation accident cases. Crouse Law Offices represents victims and their families in many practice areas, including airplane and helicopter accidents, aviation law, auto accidents, military representation, product liability, transportation law, defective products, consumer dangers, general negligence, personal injury and wrongful death.

Mr. Crouse can be reached at Crouse Law Offices at 919-861-0500 or online at http://www.crouselaw.com/contact.asp.

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Posted by 12:18 pm

Raleigh, N.C. Aviation Attorney Comments On FAA’s Proposal For New Helicopter Safety Rules

Yesterday the Federal Aviation Administration announced it is proposing stricter flight rules for helicopters, including those which are aimed at increasing safety for medical helicopters. 

This comes after a rash of medical helicopter crashes in the last few years. 

James T. Crouse of Crouse Law Offices had the following comments:

“Despite the efforts of manufacturers, operators and government agencies, the helicopter accident rate has not seen a major improvement.  I applaud the FAA for these proposed changes which should help helicopter safety and should save lives.” 

For years, Crouse says, the FAA has not mandated flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders on smaller aircraft, including helicopters, which would help in post-accident analysis to determine the real cause of the crash.  “If we had this information, we could not only help the families of the victims of these terrible accidents, but we could use the information for prevention of future accidents.” 

Too often, investigators are left with trying to piece the facts together from wreckage scene components and other indirect data which can make the true cause difficult to determine.  “Unfortunately, this often leads to blaming the pilot when, in fact, the aircraft and its systems might well have been at fault,” Crouse says. 

“The government should go further and mandate two pilots on all Part 135 helicopter operations, and insist on adequate ground-based flight following and operational management of medical helicopter operations.  Finally, the FAA should require flight recording devices on all light aircraft—helicopters and fixed-wing.”

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Posted by 3:28 pm

Preliminary Report Released On Deadly Medical Helicopter Crash

The NTSB’s preliminary report on the medical helicopter crash which killed three people in Arkansas includes a witness statement of hearing an explosion before the aircraft went down.  The witness also reported hearing the sound of crushing metal, then seeing the helicopter turn left – then right before it disappeared. 

As reported earlier on this site, on August 31, an AirEvac Lifeteam helicopter based in Vilonia, Arkansas, crashed killing all three crew members on board.  According to CNN, the helicopter was en route to an accident in Crabtree, Arkansas when it crashed.

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Posted by 1:46 pm

Medical Helicopter Crash In Arkansas – 2nd In As Many Months

An Air Evac Lifeteam Bell 206 helicopter en route to pick up a traffic accident victim crashed about 4:30 this morning in Scotland, Arkansas about 80 miles north of Little Rock killing all three crew members on board.

 The pilot was flying under visual flight rules and the helicopter was equipped with night vision gear.  It is not thought the pilot was in touch with air traffic controllers at the time of the crash and no distress calls were made.

 Investigators from the FAA and the NTSB are on their way to the crash site.

 According to BNO News, the crew was based in Vilonia, Arkansas.  AirEvac, based in West Plains, Mo. is the largest independently owned and operated membership-supported air medical service in the U.S. having operations in 14 states.

Air Evac has had several deadly crashes in the last four years killing 9 crew members, reports the Associated Press.  In 2008, a crash in Indiana killed three people.  In 2007, another three-member crew died when their AirEvac helicopter crashed in Alabama. In 2006, a crash in northwest Arkansas killed the three crew members on that Air Evac helicopter.  Last month, an AirEvac helicopter was force to land after the aircraft’s hydraulics failed – no on was injured in this mishap.

The Med Vac crash last month: On July 28, the pilot, flight nurse, and paramedic were killed when their Air Methods LifeNet medical helicopter AS350 B3 Eurocopter crashed in Tucson, AZ.   Although the cause of the crash is not known, a witness said the helicopter’s rotors stopped working and it started plummeting toward the ground.

The crash is being investigated.

With a strong background in helicopters as a pilot, maintenance officer and maintenance test pilot, and a strong background in litigation all over the world against the largest corporate defendants, Crouse Law Offices has the experience and knowledge to know how to succeed and how to win your case.  Please call us at 1-919-861-0500 or contact us by using our online form.

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Posted by 12:21 pm

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed In Maryland Medical Helicopter Crash

The husband of a medical technician killed when a Maryland State Police helicopter crashed in September 2008 has filed a $7 million wrongful death lawsuit against the federal government. 

In March, relatives of the paramedic on board filed a $15 million lawsuit.  A personal injury claim for $50 million was filed by the  lone survivor of the crash only to have the FAA deny the claim. 

The helicopter was en route from a traffic accident to a hospital when it was diverted to Andrews Air Force Base because of bad weather.  The pilot had trouble with the foggy weather as he was trying to land and radioed for help twice before crashing 3 miles from the base.  His calls for help were never answered by the air traffic controllers.

The lawsuit claims “negligence” on the part of the Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers. 

Four of the five on board were killed including one of the traffic accident victims. 

 Helicopter Wrongful Death

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Posted by 10:10 am

Medical Helicopter Career: One Of The Deadliest

If you are one the angles of mercy who have chosen either to fly or to work on a medical helicopter, you have chosen one of the deadliest occupations in the United States. In every 100,000 workers killed in the line of duty, more medical helicopter personnel are killed than police officers, miners, loggers, and commercial fisherman.

While many lives have been saved by medical helicopter transport, too many have been lost. The deadliest year for medical helicopter crashes was 2008, when twenty-nine people lost their lives. So far in 2010, six people have died in two medical helicopter crashes. Studies have shown 70 – 80% of the crashes are the result of human error.

Pressure is mounting for medical helicopter transport to be made safer. The NTSB has made several recommendations on equipment that would improve navigation through rough terrain and bad weather.

Medical Helicopter Career

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Posted by 4:28 pm

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