Toll-Free
1-800-474-1339
Kansas City
816-474-8080
Over $1 Billion in Verdicts and Recoveries
Helicopter That Crashed, Killed 4 Not Certified to Fly in Fog

The Associated Press
4/11/2016

A medical helicopter was not certified for flying in the foggy, low‑visibility conditions it encountered before crashing last month with a patient in southeast Alabama, killing all four aboard, federal investigators say in a newly released report.

Fog and mist enveloped the landing zone in a farm field near the scene of a highway wreck when the helicopter arrived near midnight, the National Transportation Safety Board wrote in its preliminary report.

The poor weather continued 23 minutes later, when the helicopter took off with a patient the morning of March 26, the NTSB report states. The helicopter managed to rise to 1,100 feet before crashing in a swampy area near Enterprise it states.

The pilot, a flight nurse, a flight medic and the patient were killed.

The chopper "was not certificated for flight" in such conditions, which require the use of instruments to maneuver through poor visibility, the NTSB report states.

Helicopters must have the equipment necessary to fly with instruments when visibility is poor, said Gary C. Robb, a Kansas City‑ based aviation lawyer who wrote the book "Helicopter Crash Litigation." The NTSB doesn't specify exactly why it found the Alabama helicopter wasn't certified for flying in the poor weather.

NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said "we've just documented what we know to be factual," in the preliminary report.

"We haven't determined whether it should have been flying that night," Holloway added. "Part of our investigation is to look at everything, and whether or not the aircraft was certified to fly is part of that."

It could take a year or longer for a final report that identifies a likely cause of the accident, federal authorities say.

However, the preliminary report on this crash is thorough, giving more detail than many others at this stage of an investigation, Robb said.

"In terms of what pieces of the puzzle do we have, right now it's a 500‑piece puzzle and this preliminary report gives us 200 pieces of that puzzle ...," he said after reviewing it.

The report details the condition of the aircraft and its parts at the wreckage scene, and notes that many components were working at the time of the crash.

"They were able to confirm that there was no breach of the ability to control the main rotor or the tail rotor or the engine," Robb said. "The control system was intact. That's critical."

He said there were clear signs the engine was operating and producing power at the time of the crash, making it unlikely that any in‑flight mechanical malfunction was to blame.

Shortly after the crash, NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson said the weather conditions and visibility would be a focus of the investigation.

Fog can lead to a phenomenon known as spatial disorientation. "It is defined as the pilot's losing his or her orientation to the ground, plain and simple," Robb said. "You don't know where you are in space."

The helicopter had been sent to the wreck by Haynes Life Flight dispatchers from its base at Troy Regional Medical Center in Troy, Alabama, the NTSB said.

Kirk Barrett, chief operations officer of Haynes, an Alabama ambulance service, said in an email to The Associated Press Monday that questions should be directed to Louisiana‑based Metro Aviation Inc., which operated the helicopter.

"Our deepest condolences are with all the families involved. At this time, the NTSB investigation is still ongoing and until that is complete, we are prevented from making additional comments," Kristen King Holmes, Metro Aviation's marketing director, said in a statement Monday.
 
The crash comes as the Federal Aviation Administration continues its efforts to improve the safety of the aircraft known as air ambulances. It began that effort after a series of deadly crashes.
 
The year 2008, for instance, "proved to be the deadliest year on record with five accidents that claimed 21 lives," the FAA wrote in a fact sheet about the initiatives to improve safety.
 
On Feb. 20, 2014, the FAA issued new rules requiring air ambulances to have stricter flight rules and procedures, more training, and additional on‑board safety equipment, according to the FAA document.




« Back to News & Media

The firm's lawyers are proud to be members of:
Telephone: 816-474-8080
Facsimile: 816-474-8081
Toll-Free: 1-800-474-1339
Nationwide practice in states including:
Alabama
Arkansas
Arizona
Colorado
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Illinois
Iowa
Kentucky
Minnesota
Missouri
Nebraska
Nevada
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
Ohio
Oklahoma
Pennsylvania
Tennessee
Wisconsin
Virginia

Personal Injury Lawyers - Kansas City, Missouri

Personal injury is an area of law that pertains to the injury of an individual. Both physical and emotional injuries fall into this branch of tort law. A personal injury lawyer is generally involved in cases where an injury has occurred due to the negligence of another party.

Examples of cases that a personal injury lawyer in Kansas City, Missouri can assist with include workplace accidents, falling or other accidents in the home, premises liability, defective and hazardous product cases, and dental and medical malpractice cases. If negligence on behalf of another party can be proved in court, compensation may be awarded.

Personal injury attorneys can also assist with industrial disease cases that may include respiratory diseases or a decline in health due to hazardous occupational conditions. These and other medical cases are often very complex, and it is advised that all aspects of the claim be handled by an experienced attorney.

Wrongful Death Lawyers - Kansas City, Missouri

Wrongful death falls under the common law jurisdictions wherein a person may be held liable for a death. It is important to note that wrongful death is the only course of legal action in which a company, rather than an individual, is at fault for a death.

In Kansas City, Missouri, cases involving wrongful death accidents require a preponderance of evidence as the standard of proof. Generally, the suit is filed by close relatives.

This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Past results afford no guarantee of future results. Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

Robb & Robb LLC One Kansas City Place, Suite 3900 - 1200 Main Street , Kansas City , Missouri 64105

Telephone: 816-474-8080 Facsimile: 816-474-8081 Toll-Free: 1-800-474-1339