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Dangerous Trends Continue in Commercial Helicopter Safety

Thu, Oct 23, 2008 — Thomas J. Ellis

Safety Issues

In 2007, there were 49 deaths from helicopter accidents in the United States. According to statistics provided by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), these 49 deaths came from only 24 separate accidents. This figure represents slightly more than 12% of the 191 helicopter accidents and incidents investigated by the NTSB that same year.

Operation Fatal Accidents Total Fatalities Accidents/Incidents
Part 91 16 31 143
Part 135 6 16 27
Part 133 1 1 7
Public Use 1 1 6
Part 137 0 0 8
       
TOTALS 24 49 191

 

The number of 2007 helicopter accidents and incidents represents an unacceptable 12.35% increase from the 170 accidents that were investigated by the NTSB in 2006. More shocking is the fact that the number of fatal accidents for Part 135 operations doubled from the previous year and the number of fatalities associated with these accidents more than tripled.

Despite the alarming trend, Joe Gigantelli, a vice-president of Sikorsky Helicopters, was quoted in the June 20, 2008 publication of Engineering News stating, “We’re seeing a very robust aviation sector right now,” and “[t]here is real market demand for commercial helicopters.”

As might be expected, the increased demand for helicopters has been accompanied by an increase in preventable deaths. In the first half of 2008, there were 18 fatalities associated with Part 135 helicopter accidents, already surpassing the total figure for 2007.

Sadly, as much as the demand for commercial helicopters increases, there will be a commensurate number of families searching for answers as to why their loved ones died and who bears responsibility.

Nolan Law Group is currently working on behalf of the victims’ families in several helicopter accidents in the United States and overseas, including the September 11, 2004 accident over the Aegean Sea which claimed the life of His Beatitude, Petros VII, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

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