Florida Helicopter Accident Lawyers

Helicopter flight is unique and the forces that allow a helicopter to fly are significantly more complex than those of a fixed wing aircraft.  A helicopter has the unique aircraft capabilities to land vertically, hover and transition to level flight in any direction.  These capabilities make helicopter sought after in emergency transport, law enforcement, fire fighting, military, search and rescue, power line inspection and even air crane operations.

Helicopter pilots are specially trained to operate helicopters and a rotor-wing license is a separate airman certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  Training requires a highly proficient demonstration of physics and regulatory testing, aircraft knowledge and flight maneuvers specific to helicopters prior to any issuance of a rotary wing operator’s certificate.

Rotor blades have an airfoil shape like the wings of an airplane, causing air to move more quickly over the blades than below, creating lift.  The lift of the blades, in any direction, creates down-washing air.  In some cases, especially in the presence of nearby buildings and dynamic landscapes, this down-wash can disrupt hover flight or impede the generation of lift.  A tail rotor generally provides stability from gyroscopic forces created by the engine driving the rotor blades.   Helicopter flight is technically and physically demanding, requiring coordination of both of the pilots’ arms on the yoke and cyclic control, as well as both of his or her feet on the rudders.

Pilot Error in Helicopter Accidents

Human error is the cause of many helicopter accidents.  The pilot must not only operate a physically demanding aircraft, but must constantly anticipate the effects on aerodynamics that his or her next move will generate.  Human error can stem from lack of training, application of training or fatigue.  Mishandled controls (or “pilot error”) account for the largest sector of helicopter accidents (22 percent), according to helicoptersafety.org.  The National Transportation Safety Administration has identified numerous helicopter crashes caused by pilot distraction.  In one case, a pilot was even texting on his phone at the time of the accident.

The chain of events leading up to an accident often involves a number of human-based factors, including:

  • Improper flight training
  • Improper flight planning
  • Failure to operate the aircraft according to its published weight and balance limitations
  • Human fatigue or error in judgment
  • Improper maintenance
  • Faulty procedures or checklists
  • Grandstanding maneuvers

Podhurst Orseck lawyers are experienced with helicopter accidents and the science behind this type of aircraft. Our extensive knowledge and network of aviation experts and industry professionals allow our legal team to efficiently investigate helicopter accidents.

Mechanical Failure

Upon approaching a helicopter for the first time, one is usually astounded by the number of moving parts and mechanical innovations that propel the aircraft.   With the helicopter’s many moving parts comes the need to thoroughly inspect, maintain and service all parts and components.  There is no “unimportant” part on a helicopter.  Unlike a fixed wing aircraft, which can receive major inspections at its home airport by a properly licensed technician, helicopter manufacturers require entire helicopters to be sent back to the factory or repair station for a full breakdown and reassembly when they reach their major inspections – a daunting and costly procedure.

Metallurgical failure, poor design and production, improper maintenance, improper installation, and operational abuse can all cause parts and systems to fail earlier than inspection due dates.  At Podhurst Orseck, we work with experts to isolate issues, identify the cause of the accident and advocate for our clients’ best interests.