Updated February 20, 2020

How Do Helicopter Accidents and Injuries Happen?

Have you ever tuned into the local news to see live traffic updates? Have you ever wanted to take an aerial tour of the Grand Canyon? When someone is hurt in a car accident on the interstate, how are they quickly transported to the hospital?

Helicopters are used in a wide variety of circumstances, including for recreation, military operations, law enforcement, air ambulances and taxis, traffic monitoring, and offshore transportation. They are extremely popular sightseeing vehicles for tourists, offering breathtaking views of cities and landmarks.

However, helicopters are also extremely intricate and require high levels of technical skill to operate. Accidents and injuries, when they occur, are often serious.

How are Helicopters unique from Airplanes?

While both helicopters and airplanes share the same general purpose of air travel, helicopters are unique. Unlike other aircraft, they can operate in close quarters and move in any direction: forward, backward, up, down, left, and right. Additionally, helicopters can take off and land vertically as well as fly or hover close to the ground.

Due to the complexity of operating the machines and the variety of maneuvers they can achieve, helicopter pilots require extensive training and preparation to earn a license. If even a minor issue arises, helicopters can easily malfunction.

What are some Common Causes of Helicopter Accidents?

Helicopters are more likely than any other type of aircraft to be involved in an accident. Common causes include the following:

  • Pilot error
  • Pad operator error
  • Manufacturing and design defects
  • Weather
  • Unsafe environmental conditions
  • Electrical failure

Since helicopters operate so close to the ground, they are exposed to unique hazards compared to other aircraft. Property and people near the helicopter can be affected by an accident—not just the passengers and crew.

Severity of Helicopter Accidents

Unfortunately, when helicopter accidents occur, they can result in major injury. Due to the size and weight of helicopters, as well as the speed they move and the height they fly, crashes are often severe.

Helicopter accidents can result in several types of injuries:

  • Burns
  • Blunt force trauma
  • Lacerations
  • Scarring
  • Internal organ, spinal, and traumatic brain injuries
  • Bone fractures
  • Paralysis
  • Death

What are some Helicopter Accident Statistics?

The International Helicopter Safety Team determined that helicopter accidents are more common than airplane accidents:

  • Helicopter accident rate: 7.5 per 100,000 flying hours
  • Airplane accident rate: 0.175 per 100,000 flying hours

The rate of helicopter accidents is, fortunately, decreasing in the United States, thanks to new safety initiatives and technologies. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, accident data is as follows:

  • 2013: 146 total accidents, 30 fatal accidents
  • 2014: 138 total accidents, 21 fatal accidents
  • 2015: 121 total accidents, 17 fatal accidents
  • 2016: 106 total accidents, 17 fatal accidents

Contact an Aviation Accident Attorney Today

At WKW, two of our staff attorneys are licensed pilots. Our aviation attorneys have commercial licenses, flight engineer certificates, and instrument and multi-engine aircraft ratings. Additionally, they have flight experience in Boeing 727s and private aircrafts.

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of an aviation accident, you are urged to contact the Indianapolis Aviation Accident Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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