Two Air Ambulance Crashes, One Month Apart

October 19, 2013
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On average, medical air transport crashes cause 10.5 fatalities per year in the United States, so two air ambulance crashes and five deaths in a four-week span is cause for alarm. The air ambulance and medical helicopter accident lawyers at Bohrer & Lukeman are monitoring the events unfolding regarding these two tragic air ambulance crashes.

The first of the two occurred October 22, 2013, when a medical helicopter en route to pick up a sick child crashed and burned in a wooded area in Somerville, Tennessee killing a pilot and two hospital workers. A National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) preliminary report noted that minutes before the crash, the pilot made an abrupt right turn to the south, which took the helicopter off its planned course. An NTSB final report is expected within nine months to a year. No lawsuits have been filed to date.

On November 19, 2013, an emergency medical transport Learjet en route to Mexico crashed one mile off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, Florida just five minutes after takeoff. According to news sources, the pilot reportedly issued a May Day call and sought permission to return to the runway due to a “mechanical problem,” but the jet ultimately plunged into the ocean leaving no known survivors. The cause of the crash has not yet been determined.

After thirteen medical helicopter crash fatalities occurred in the first few months of 2010, the NTSB held a public hearing and called on the FAA to develop new safety criteria and training programs for medical transport pilots. The board recommended introducing night-vision imaging instruments and mandatory systems that would alert pilots to terrain conditions. It is unclear how widely these recommendations have been implemented to date but our air ambulance crash lawyers continue to monitor the changes in the industry and support the call for renewed safety rules and oversight.