SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA (May 5, 2017) – A tour helicopter carrying two people and a pilot crashed on Friday, according to a local news source. (map)
The accident happened around 2:00 pm. The helicopter, a Robinson R-44, was returning from a tourist flight when it developed a mechanical issue and crashed into the parking lot of the La Cumbre Country Club off of Via Laguna and Las Palmas Drive. The helicopter was carrying a man and a woman as well as the pilot when it crashed, and all three were able to escape the helicopter just before it burst into flames.
All three people on board the helicopter sustained injuries, and were rushed to a local hospital. The helicopter completely incinerated in the ensuring fire, aside from the tail section. The helicopter was registered to Spitzer Helicopter LLC, but the helicopter had been leased to a tour company in Santa Barbara for the last three years.
Intial research indicates that Robinson R-44 helicopters are more prone to catching on fire after crashes than similar helicopters, due to the aluminum fuel tanks being susceptible to damage on impact and leaking. Most R44 helicopters now use a bladder type fuel tank.
In 2015 over 80 R44rs in New Zealand were ordered grounded after an investigation by a governmental agency determined that a fatal accident involving the helicopter could be traced back to a potential flaw in the main rotor blade. It was the second crash in two months linked to the rotor blade. Further testing from one agency indicated the crash could have been the result of overloading instead of a flaw, but the USA has not finished their own tests as of yet on the rotor blades and their potential for failure.
Friday’s crash in the parking lot of the golf club remains under open investigation by the FAA and the NTSB to determine what caused the Robinson R-44 to crash.
“The NTSB investigates every aviation accident in the country. We subscribe to their service and are aware of every accident, and have an intimate knowledge of the many causes of aircraft crashes. We are experts in this area,” said the attorneys from Lexton Law Firm. Lexton Law Firm handles aviation cases all over the country, and is a leading expert in aviation crashes.
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