When a helicopter crashes, the wreckage can leave a trail of clues that leads all the way back to the aircraft’s design and manufacturer. In 2012, civil helicopters flew more than 3 million hours in the United States, resulting in 153 accidents. Of that number, 22 were fatal and 23 resulted in serious injuries. Prompt investigation of the crash site and knowledge about common causes of these crashes are critical. Abraham Watkins has handled many aviation cases through the years.
Many factors come into play when determining the cause of a helicopter crash. Some of the common causes are loss of tail rotor function, component of system failure, engine failure, pilot error, improper maintenance, weather or other environmental factors.
Federal regulations require that the owner and operator of the helicopter maintain appropriate maintenance of records. The helicopter and helicopter engine are separately regulated as well. The Federal Aviation Administration regulations impose much stricter useful life limitations on helicopter components such as rotor blades and other components that are subjected to high levels of vibration and rotational stress than on comparable components used in fixed wing aircraft.
Two matters that come up frequently are whether the pilot holds a current and valid medical certificate and whether he or she is properly certified for the helicopter model involved in the crash. Logbooks typically accompany the pilot, so they are often damaged or destroyed in the crash, especially if there was post-impact fire. If logbooks have incurred significant smoke or water damage, there are techniques to preserve or even enhance their reliability.
Numerous helicopter crashes are caused by pilot’s inability to control the tail rotor of the helicopter, the pilot’s qualifications, medical condition, and actions will be meticulously scrutinized in ever helicopter crash. Common errors include improper preflight inspection, loss of visibility, unintended ground impact, exceeding gross weight limits, and flying in hazardous weather conditions.
Benny Agosto, Jr. is a partner at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner in Houston, Texas. For over 65 years, Abraham Watkins has successfully represented injured people and families who fall victim to catastrophes. Our attorneys have the knowledge, experience and resources necessary to obtain just compensation their clients. For more information, please contact the office of Benny Agosto, Jr. at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, by letter at 800 Commerce Street, Houston, Texas 77002, or by phone at 713-396-3964.