why helicopters are dangerous

Helicopter Crashes: Why Helicopters Are So Dangerous

A Vietnam-era Huey helicopter crashed this week in the Kelly Mountain area along state Route 17 in Logan County, WV – killing six people. The Bell UB-1 helicopter was used during the Vietnam War and had appeared in a number of different films, including “Die Hard” and “Baywatch”, and it was being featured at the 7th Annual Huey Reunion at Logan County Airport. 

This tragic incident is one of several fatal helicopter accidents that have occurred this year, and it is another reminder of the dangers involved with flying in this type of aircraft.

The Dangers of Flying in Helicopters

Helicopters are complex machines that are inherently dangerous to fly in, and when something goes wrong, a crash most often results in fatalities. Here are some of the hazards associated with flying in a helicopter:

Riskier Flights

Unlike airplanes, helicopters do not have set flight patterns, runways to take off and land on, and the guidance of a trained air traffic controller. Helicopters are also typically flown into areas that may not be accessible with any other type of aviation machinery. It is well-known that helicopters are used widely in the military, and they are often used during the filming of movies and TV shows. The Huey helicopter that crashed near Kelly Mountain was most recently being used for tourism.

More Frequent Takeoffs and Landings

Airplanes take off from one airport or landing strip and land at another and they maintain a certain altitude during various phases of the flight. Helicopters, on the other hand, often take off and land several times during the same flight to pick up and drop off passengers, pickup and drop off cargo, or similar reasons. Whenever an aircraft employs more frequent takeoffs and landings, there is always a greater risk of an accident.

Low Altitude Flying

Many of the larger airplanes can fly at high altitudes, which is very helpful in avoiding turbulence as well as various obstacles such as trees, buildings, towers, and mountains. Helicopters do not have the ability to fly as high as a commercial airplane, so there is always the risk of crashing into one of these obstacles if something goes wrong.

Complicated Machinery

As we touched on previously, helicopters are very complex pieces of machinery, and they have more moving parts than an airplane. This means that there are a lot more parts that could create problems due to product defects and/or negligent maintenance. Speaking of maintenance, helicopters require trained specialists to repair and maintain the equipment, and it can be very difficult to find a qualified mechanic. For this reason, some operators may decide to cut corners and put off necessary maintenance in order to save money.

Difficult to Fly

Because of the way helicopters are made, they are not as easy to fly as an airplane. As we talked about earlier, a helicopter makes frequent takeoffs and landings, and they hover in and out of various places, creating instability that can be worsened by adverse conditions such as high winds. Pilots must be trained, experienced, and highly focused in order to fly a helicopter safely. But unfortunately, some helicopter crashes have been caused by pilot negligence that may result from things like fatigue, distractions, and intoxication.

Risk of Poor Weather

One of the things that make flying in a helicopter so dangerous is the risk of running into inclement weather while it is airborne. Heavy winds, rain, snow, and similar conditions can knock the helicopter off course and cause a crash, and as previously noted, helicopters do not have the ability to fly above turbulent weather conditions. For this reason, it is extremely important to monitor the weather reports carefully and be ready to postpone the flight, if possible, when the weather is not favorable.

Experienced West Virginia Helicopter Accident Lawyers

Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones in the recent Logan County, WV helicopter crash, and our thoughts and prayers are with you. Hopefully, some good will come out of this tragedy and helicopter operators will take more steps that are needed to prevent incidents like these from happening in the future. In the meantime, we will continue to fight to ensure that those responsible for accidents like these are held fully accountable.

If you need any legal help regarding helicopter accidents or any other type of personal injury in West Virginia, Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. is here for you. Call us toll-free at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 or message us online to speak with one of our attorneys.