In 2006, the National Transportation Safety Board began an effort to improve safety in medical aircraft following a spike in the number of accidents nationwide. The progress of that initiative was called into question recently as two medical helicopters crashed on the same day, causing four injuries and three fatalities. Despite the attention of federal safety officials, medical aircraft crashes are still a significant concern.
Both pilots were able to walk away from a mid-air collision that brought a plane and a helicopter down on Sunday. The aviation accident occurred on Sunday evening between Sacramento and San Francisco. Despite significant damage to the helicopter, the pilot was only shaken up after coming down in a field a few miles outside of the nearest airport. The pilot of the airplane, a single-engine plane, was able to fly the craft 20 miles south before coming down near Byron Airport. The fact that no one was seriously injured in a mid-air collision was incredibly fortunate.
Two investigations conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board were concluded last week with very similar results. The deadly aviation crashes both involved medical helicopters which were returning home after delivering patients. The NTSB was already aware of an increase in medical helicopter crashes. The safety organization had identified a number of factors that contributed to this increase. These two accidents demonstrated that the concerns have not yet been properly addressed.
A sightseeing tour at the Lake Mead National Recreation area outside of Las Vegas ended in tragedy Wednesday. The helicopter crash claimed the lives of all four passengers as well as the pilot. The crash occurred around 5 p.m. while the helicopter proceeded on its normal course to Hoover Dam. The weather was clear with good visibility and low winds. It is unclear what caused the helicopter to go down. Local agencies and investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are continuing recovery efforts and are still seeking an explanation for what caused this fatal aviation accident.