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.

Labels: , , ,
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

Labels: , , , ,
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.”

Labels: , , ,
Posted by 3:28 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.

Labels: , , ,
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

Labels: , , , , ,
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

Labels: ,
Posted by 2:14 pm

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

Labels: ,
Posted by 4:28 pm

NTSB Releases Preliminary Report On Medical Helicopter Crash

The pilot of a Eurocopter AS-350-B3 operated by Memphis Medical Center Air Ambulance Service (dba Hospital Wing) was “trying to beat the storm” when the helicopter crashed outside Brownsville, Texas on March 25, according to the NTSB.

The helicopter was returning to the Haywood County EMS Heliport in Brownsville after transporting a patient in Tennessee when it crashed, killing the pilot and two flight nurses.

According to a shift pilot at the home base heliport, he and the Hospital Wing pilot had discussed a front coming from Memphis towards Brownsville and the helicopter pilot stated he had about 18 minutes to get the chopper back to base to “beat the storm.”

In the last communication between the shift pilot and one of the flight nurses, she told him they were “30 seconds out.”The wind had then picked up to 20 knots and after he hung up the phone, there was an “immediate” loud clap of thunder and lightning – he looked out, but saw no helicopter.

Crouse Law Offices has the necessary experience and knowledge to handle your helicopter case, no matter what type of helicopter, what type of accident, where it occurred, and where or who the defendants are. Experience means knowing the equipment, how it works, how it fails, how it is operated, how all of this will be defended, and how to succeed—and how to win. Contact us today at 919-861-0500 or contact us online.

Posted by 3:13 pm

Mr. Crouse, Prominent Aviation Attorney, Quoted By Rotorhub

The following article was released by Rotohub, Sikorsky Bell, and Eurocopter.

Raleigh, NC September 10, 2008 — The Sept. 4 crash of the United States Coast Guard Eurocopter HH-65 “Dauphin” helicopter and the loss of four service members comes on the heels of three other high-profile crashes and points to the ongoing need for increased efforts in helicopter safety, says a prominent aviation law attorney.

Devices such as cockpit voice recorders and flight data recorders — two electronic tools which could help pinpoint the causes of fatal helicopter crashes — are the exception rather than the norm in most helicopters and light aircraft, says Raleigh, N.C. lawyer James T. Crouse, a former U.S. Army helicopter test pilot.

“These devices are available and should be mandated,” Crouse says. “Similar devices have been utilized in the automotive industry for years, and are now affordable for use in smaller aircraft in aviation such as helicopters.”

Crouse is the senior partner in the Crouse Law Firm, which concentrates in aviation accident law at the local, national and international level, representing the families of persons injured in civilian and military aviation accidents, including helicopter crashes.

Crouse has long been an advocate of greater safety devices in helicopters and has written extensively about the causes of helicopter accidents. The Coast Guard crash in Hawaii may have been caused by a problem with the aircraft’s main rotor system, Crouse says, perhaps as a result of interference by a cable that could have snapped during a simulated rescue operation involving the aircraft’s winch. “Fortunately, the aircraft had a flight data recorder which, along with other portions of the aircraft, has been recovered,” Crouse says. Four survivors have also been able to give information to investigators, according to Crouse.

The need for greater helicopter safety is underscored by the Coast Guard crash and several other recent incidents:

An Aug 8. crash of a Sikorsky S-61N helicopter in Northern California’s Trinity Alps took the lives of seven firefighters and two others. “The crash is still under investigation, but given the fact that it was a heavily loaded helicopter at a fairly high density altitude, the aircraft was within the danger zone of helicopter operations where any problem with lift can cause the aircraft to have difficulty maintaining altitude,” Crouse says.

On Aug. 29, a Robinson helicopter crashed in southwestern Missouri. Very little information has been released on that accident. “This is a popular helicopter due to its relatively low cost, and its simple design makes it popular with new helicopter pilots,” Crouse says. “The fact that the helicopter was seen flying normally and then nose-dived points to a failure of a component.”

On Aug. 31, an Air Evac medical helicopter crashed near Burney, Indiana, killing the pilot, flight nurse and paramedic. Reportedly, the Bell Model 206 Long Ranger helicopter’s main rotor system was found 200 yards from the main crash site, possibly indicating a catastrophic failure of the main rotor system, says Crouse. The crash marked the fifth time in recent years that a medical helicopter operated by Air Evac EMS has crashed, and the second fatal accident in Indiana for the West Plains, Missouri company.

Crouse says that major steps are being taken in helicopter safety through the work of such organizations as the International Helicopter Safety Team, formed by industry and government groups to study the causes of accidents and to make recommendations on their prevention.
Those efforts are commendable, but Crouse notes that data recorders are still not required on helicopters–or other “light” aircraft. This is a limitation for the accident investigators, Crouse says. “The investigators still rely upon an analysis of the wreckage–which they have been doing for decades. We could get closer to the cause if we had this electronic information. The capability is there, why not use it?”

Crouse added: “Whether the cause of each of these crashes can be determined remains to be seen. But the families, operators and manufacturers need to know what happened. Without this knowledge, there is a strong risk that crashes will continue to occur due to the same, undetermined, causes.”

About Crouse Law Offices:Crouse Law Offices in Raleigh, N.C. is headed by attorney James T. Crouse, a pilot and lawyer with more than three decades of aviation and legal experience. Mr. Crouse also teaches aviation law at Duke University Law School. For more information, visit the firm’s Websites at and

Posted by 4:44 pm

Copyright © 2001- 2023 , Crouse Law Offices, Attorneys at Law. All Rights Reserved. Aviation Accident Litigators, Airplane & Helicopter Accident News, Product Liability Lawyers, Transportation Law, Medical Negligence, Construction Law.