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Two Dead After Medical Helicopter And Plane Collide

A midair collision between a 1967 single-engine Cessna 172L and a Eurocopter EC135 AirCare 5 medical transport helicopter in Virginia has left two dead.  The accident happened New Year’s Eve about half-mile north of the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport in Weyers Cave.

The helicopter is registered to PHI Inc. in Lafayette, La.  The plane was registered to Michael W. Price of Elton, although he was not on the plane at the time of the crash.

The collision between the two aircraft knocked off the plane’s left wing and both occupants were killed when it plummeted to the ground.  The plane was totally destroyed by the impact with the ground.

It is not known what the plane’s destination was or where the flight originated.  The helicopter was returning from the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville and, although damaged, managed to land safely with three crew members on board.

A helicopter instructor who saw the helicopter come in cited the safety features on that aircraft and the training of the pilots for “amazing job” of landing.

The NTSB is investigating the cause of the incident.

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Posted by 2:36 pm

Are Medical Helicopter Safety Concerns Being Addressed?

Medical helicopter crashes make headline news, receiving a lot of attention from the media and from viewers.  Perhaps because we can all feel the depth of the tragedy knowing this helicopter was on a mission of mercy to save lives – yet crew members and patients lose their lives.

According to the NTSB, there were 85 helicopter-EMS (HEMS) accidents from 2003-2009 with 77 fatalities with 2008 being the deadliest year on record.  The question of the safety of helicopter medical evacuations has gotten the attention not only of the general public, but also aviation associations associated with the EMS industry and government agencies. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by 8:23 am

Delta Makes Emergency Landing Because Of Windshield Cracks

The pilot came on over the public address system and calmly advised his passengers they had to make an emergency landing because the Boeing 737 had a  cracked windshield.  Delta Flight 1795 was headed for Southern California from Atlanta and diverted to the Dallas-Ft. Worth.  The plane landed in Texas without problems and the passengers were put on another plane to continue their flight to John Wayne Airport in Orange County.  The FAA is investigating. 

This is not the first incident for Delta.  In December 2009, Delta flight 0444 left Bogota, Columbia bound for Atlanta and had to turn back when the pilot noticed cracks on the surface of the outer layer of the windshield of the Boeing 757 about 35 minutes into the flight.  Following this incident, the FAA was to review the incident to find the cause and to see if the cracks on the Boeing 757 are connected to a string of windshield problems on Boeing 757s. 

 An FAA spokesman, Kathleen Bergen, pointed out there are several layers of glass in the windshield and this was only one layer, but if there was a trend, “we will look into it.”  Delta spokesman, Anthony Black told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this problem was not related because the cracks were on the outside of the windshield, not the interior.

Hopefully, the FAA and Boeing will work together to find the cause of windshield cracks on airliner jets.  In my career, I have seen too many tragedies which were the result of known problems which could have been fixed and save lives.

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Posted by 12:51 pm

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