NC Aviation Law Attorney

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

Crouse Law Firm Retained To Investigate Tucson Medical Helicopter Crash

James T. Crouse of Crouse Law Offices, Raleigh, N.C., has been retained to investigate the cause of a medical helicopter crash on July 28, 2010 in Tucson, Arizona, in which all three crew members were killed.  No patients were on board at the time of the crash. 

The Eurocopter AS350, owned by Colorado-based AirMethods and operating as LifeNet Arizona, was based in Douglas, Arizona.  AirMethods transport people requiring intensive medical care to highly skilled centers or tertiary care centers, providing medical care while en route. 

The helicopter, known as LifeNet 12, was en route back to home base after undergoing routine maintenance at Marana Regional Airport.  Although the cause of the crash will not be known for some time, there has been a history of defects in some engines installed in AS350 B3 Eurocopters.  However, the engine manufacturer, Turbomeca, was to have addressed this issue before turning the helicopter over to Air Methods.

 This is not the first incident of trouble for the AS350 B3 in Tucson.  In September another helicopter operated by Air Methods was forced to make a hard landing at St. Mary’s hospital after it swerved to the left just a few feet from the landing pad. In this incident the 3 crew members and the patient were uninjured.

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Posted by 6:36 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

EagleMed Helicopter Crash Kills Two – Helicopter Has History of Crashes

Two people are dead and another in critical condition following an EagleMed 1998 Eurocopter AS-350 helicopter crash in Oklahoma on Thursday.  A witness says the chopper went into a tail spin before clipping the top trees, hitting the ground and bursting into flames.  The pilot and the nurse were killed in the crash – the paramedic was the only survivor. 

NTSB documents show other AS-350 have gone down 58 times in the last five years.  Earlier this year an AS-350 crashed in Tennessee killing the pilot and two nurses.  Although pilot error was found to be the cause of some of the crashes, there is evidence that mechanical error was the cause of other crashes.  EagleMed’s history is much better than the AS-350, with only two accidents in its 30-year history. 

The NTSB works closely with the FAA to determine if there are safety issues that need to be addressed with certain aircrafts or in the industry.  

The preliminary report from the NTSB is expected to be released next week.

Medical Helicopter Crash

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Posted by 2:14 pm

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