NTSB: several factors, including helicopter design, caused fatal Frisco Flight For Life crash

Faulted the lack of a warning alert

WASHINGTON D.C. - The National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday a variety of factors, some centering on helicopter design, led to the fiery crash of a Flight for Life helicopter in Frisco in 2015.

Pilot Patrick Mahany died and flight nurse Dave Repsher suffered burns on more than 90 percent of his body. A second flight nurse, Matt Bowe was also injured in the crash.

Editor’s Note: 9Wants to Know Reporter Chris Vanderveen is in Washington for coverage of this story and will report live tonight on 9NEWS at 9 & 10

The NTSB report identified several safety issues as a result of this accident. Among those, the report stated that there is a need for more crash-resistant fuel systems in modern helicopters that do not currently meet crashworthiness standards due to a regulatory loophole.

9Wants to Know has extensively covered this fuel system loophole.

Special Section: Fueling the Fire

It’s a loophole that allows some helicopters manufactured in recent years, since the crashworthiness standards were released in the 90s, to continue to have substandard fuel tanks.

“If the helicopter had been equipped with a crash-resistant fuel system, the potential for thermal injuries to the occupants would have been reduced or eliminated,” the report says.

The report also listed a variety of recommendations, including that Airbus install pilot alerts for the loss of hydraulic boost to the pedal controls. The pilot did not have an alert – which the report says could have cued him to the lack of hydraulic boost to pedals and subsequent loss of control.

It also concluded that the pilot did not perform a hover check after liftoff, which also could have warned him of the problem with the pedal control.

Still, the severity of the injuries is largely due to the helicopter’s fuel system, which was “not crash resistant” and contributed to the post-crash fire.
 

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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