FAA Falls Short of Addressing Need for Cockpit, Data Recorders on All Helicopters, Says Raleigh, NC Aviation Attorney

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Crouse Law Offices lawyer James T. Crouse says recorders’ data would prevent future accidents

Aviation accident attorney James T. Crouse this week said the FAA’s proposed new rules for helicopter operators should have included a mandate for flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders on all helicopters.

"I applaud the FAA for these proposed changes which should help helicopter safety and should save lives," says Crouse. "Despite the efforts of manufacturers, operators and government agencies, the helicopter accident rate has not seen a major improvement."

Crouse, founder of Crouse Law Offices in Raleigh, is a former military pilot and an aviation accident lawyer with litigation experience involving major air carriers, general aviation, helicopter and military crashes.

Although the technology is readily available, the FAA has not mandated flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders on smaller aircraft, including helicopters, Crouse says.

"If this information were available, we could not only help the families of the victims of these terrible accidents, but we could use the information for prevention of future accidents,” Crouse says.

Stricter flight rules and procedures proposed by the Federal Aviation Administration on October 7 include improved communications and training, and additional on-board safety equipment for helicopters, including air ambulances. But the FAA has no plans to require flight data recorders or cockpit voice recorders on all helicopters or smaller fixed-wing aircraft.

Crouse says that flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders on smaller aircraft would help in post-accident analysis to determine the real causes of helicopter and plane crashes.

"Too often air safety investigators are left with trying to piece the facts together from wreckage scene components and other indirect data which can make the true cause difficult to determine," Crouse says. "This often leads to blaming the pilot when, in fact, the aircraft and its systems might well have been at fault."

The FAA’s proposal would require commercial helicopter operators to equip their helicopters with radio altimeters and additional equipment for over-water operations, and to demonstrate competencies pertaining to flying in inclement weather. Air ambulances would be required to have a Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning Systems on board, institute pre-flight risk-analysis programs and require various additional standards for training, certification and flight readiness.

Crouse says he favors more stringent rules than those proposed by the FAA.

“I believe the government should go further and mandate two pilots on all Part 135 helicopter operations, and insist on adequate ground-based flight following and operational management of medical helicopter operations, in addition to requiring flight recording devices on all light aircraft—helicopters and fixed-wing,” he says.

About Crouse Law Offices

Aviation accident lawyer James T. Crouse of Crouse Law Offices in Raleigh, North Carolina, has more than 35 years of aviation law experience. Crouse uses his extensive knowledge along with state-of-the-art forensic technology to investigate and recreate the events involved in aviation accident cases. Crouse Law Offices represents victims and their families in many practice areas, including airplane and helicopter accidents, aviation law, auto accidents, military representation, product liability, transportation law, defective products, consumer dangers, general negligence, personal injury and wrongful death.

Contact Crouse Law Offices at 919-861-0500, info(at)crouselaw(dot)com or through the firm's website at http://www.crouselaw.com.

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