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To Avoid Helicopter Crashes Pilots Must Consider All the Risks

With the recent string of helicopter accidents that have occurred throughout the country, it is time for U.S. helicopter pilots to step up to the challenge of providing safe aviation transportation for themselves and their passengers.

According to the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST), during a one week period earlier this month, four fatal helicopter accidents resulted in the wrongful deaths of seven people. The accidents occurred across the country in Pennsylvania, Texas and Louisiana.

Two of the helicopter accidents happened on the same day in different states, claiming one life in each case. Then only two days later, an accident resulted in a crash into a wooded area killing all three passengers on board the aircraft. Finally, and still in the same week, a helicopter crashed and burst into flames. Two people died in that accident.

So what can helicopter pilots learn from all of these tragedies? Obviously, flying a helicopter can be dangerous. One important lesson though, is that it is not always the dangerous flights that result in problems. Even easy missions can turn tragic. In fact, it is estimated that approximately 20 percent of helicopter accidents occur either during routine, general flights or during instructional flights.

All helicopter pilots must evaluate every risk, even if the circumstances appear to be standard. Failing to take every flight as a risky endeavor by avoiding taking every appropriate safety precaution can be a deadly mistake. This is because many factors can result in a fatal or serious helicopter accident. Simple changes in the weather can affect a helicopter flight. Other factors such as night flying, pilot fatigue and stress can also contribute to making a standard flight dangerous, especially when the mission involves flying close to the ground.

Personal injury laws protect those who are injured or killed through the negligence of another. Victims who are injured or family members of those killed in aviation accidents, whether in commercial airline accidents or private general aviation may be entitled to damages for their injuries or loss. Wrongful death suits are often filed when pilot error is to blame for an airplane or helicopter crash that results in fatalities.

Source: Aviation International News Online, "String of Accidents Challenges Helicopter Pilots," Robert P. Mark, Oct. 29, 2012

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