NTSB Releases Preliminary Report on Fatal Medicial Helicopter Crash in Tennessee
“On October 22, 2013, about 0605 central daylight time (CDT), a Eurocopter AS 350 B3, N353HW, impacted trees and terrain near Somerville, Tennessee. The certificated commercial pilot, a registered nurse, and a respiratory therapist were fatally injured; the helicopter was destroyed by impact forces and a post-crash fire. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Memphis Medical Center Air Ambulance Service, doing business as Hospital Wing, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, as a positioning flight. Night, visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on a company visual flight rules flight plan. The flight originated from Hospital Wing Heliport (2TN0), Memphis, Tennessee, and was en route to Whitehurst Field Heliport (60TN), Bolivar, Tennessee.
The purpose of the flight was to position the helicopter at Bolivar to board a patient for transport to Memphis. According to satellite tracking data provided by the operator, the helicopter departed 2TN0 at 0547 and proceeded in an easterly direction, following U.S. Highway 64. About 18 minutes later, the helicopter was observed in a climb and in a right turn away from the observed course. The last data point indicated that the helicopter was on a course of 146 degrees and at 98 knots ground speed and at an altitude of 1,560 feet above mean sea level.
The operator dispatched two aircraft to the last known position of N353HW after the pilot did not make the normal 10-minute position report. One of the pilots observed a fire in a rural area about 19 miles west of 60TN. First responders confirmed that the helicopter had crashed at that location.
The aircraft wreckage debris was located in a wooded area surrounded by cotton and soybean fields, approximately 3,300 feet south of U.S. Highway 64, in Somerville. The majority of the aircraft structure was burned and totally consumed by impact forces and a post-impact fire. The helicopter impacted trees prior to impacting the ground. The energy path was generally oriented on a magnetic heading of approximately 090 degrees.”
We at Pilot Law, P.C. are actively investigating this unfortunate incident. We are keenly sympathetic to affected parties in tragedies such as this, having litigated dozens like it in courts throughout the country and abroad and having a former military medical evacuation helicopter pilot among our staff. In cases such as this, affected parties may have legal recourse against various entities, including the aircraft and/or component manufacturers and the owner/operator of the aircraft. We at Pilot Law, P.C. bring years’ of experience and expertise to bear and will diligently and relentlessly pursue the truth on behalf of the victims and their families.