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Austin Personal Injury Blog

Friday, November 30, 2018

NTSB Searches for Cause of Deadly Texas Helicopter Accident

What are the most common causes of helicopter crashes?

A horrific Texas helicopter accident recently claimed the lives of two newlyweds.  Will Byler and his wife Bailee had been wed for an hour and a half when they set off on a family owned helicopter piloted by Gerald Lawrence.  The helicopter containing the newlyweds crashed for unknown reasons in Uvalde, Texas, 85 miles west of San Antonio.  According to the National Transportation Safety Board, skies were clear on the day of the accident.  The preliminary NTSB report reveals that the Bell 206B helicopter crashed on dangerous, rocky terrain which complicated investigations.  So far, the cause of the tragic crash that claimed the lives of two newlyweds too soon is still unknown.

Causes of Helicopter Crashes

Rates of helicopter accidents remain low, but overall these smaller aircrafts are far more accident prone than large commercial planes.  There were an estimated 3.19 helicopter accidents per every 100,000 flight hours in 2016, which represented a decline from previous years. In 2016, there were a total of 106 helicopter accidents, while 2015 saw 121 crashes.

Those considering taking a private plane may wonder whether helicopters are safer than planes.  Statistics demonstrate a similar rate of accidents between helicopters and small planes.  Both of these smaller aircrafts are susceptible to poor weather conditions.  Further, safety is heavily influenced by the experience level of the pilot.  Helicopters in particular are said to be harder to master flying than planes, perhaps leading to more accidents.  Additionally, most aircraft accidents happen during takeoff or landing, which are performed more frequently in smaller aircrafts.  Helicopters, which fly closer to the ground, could be at risk of crashing into hazards like buildings.

There are several common causes of helicopter crashes.  Pilot error is perhaps the number one cause of these accidents. Helicopters are sophisticated aircrafts with more controls than airplanes.  Pilots must be well trained to handle any weather conditions or challenging landing locations.  Studies show that pilots with less experience are more prone to accidents.  Another main cause of helicopter accidents is defective or failing parts.  Lower end helicopters or those that are not well maintained are more likely to be involved in accidents.  

Helicopter crash rates remain thankfully low overall, but anyone considering riding in one should inquire as to the experience level of the pilot and the aircraft’s condition.  If you are injured in a helicopter crash, contact an experienced aviation accident attorney as soon as possible. 


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