Tuesday, 30 November 2010

NTSB Report: Louisiana Helicopter Crash Caused by Bird Strike

A report by the National Transportation Safety Board into a helicopter crash in Louisiana that killed eight offshore rig workers, says that failure by the Federal Aviation Administration to require helicopter windshields to be resistant to bird strikes, contributed to the crash.

The crash occurred in January 4, 2009 when a Sikorsky S-76C helicopter crashed into a swamp in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. The helicopter had just taken off seven minutes earlier, and was on its way to an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. There were seven offshore rig workers on board, and six of them were killed. Both the pilots were also killed in the crash.

NTSB investigators believe that a bird collided with the windshield of the helicopter, probably causing the engine control levers to go into the idle position. The report says that the pilots likely became confused and shocked by the impact of the bird hit, and were unable to recover in time to maintain control over the helicopter.

The helicopter was equipped with laminated glass windshields that were compliant with European bird-hit resistance standards. However, the company that operated the helicopter, BHI, had recently replaced the helicopter windshields with lightweight acrylic windshields. These windshields did not have bird-strike resistance.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration has failed to require helicopter operators to install bird strike resistant windshields on helicopters. Considering that bird hits are one of the biggest hazards of aviation travel affecting thousands of aircraft every year, California helicopter crash lawyers find it odd that the FAA has failed to take this problem seriously.

Besides, the NTSB report blames lack of protection that would have prevented the T handles from dislodging at the time of impact, as well as the lack of a warning system that would have alerted the crew members to a low rotor speed condition through lights and audible warnings.

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