Are media outlets doing everything they can to avoid a news helicopter crash?
Just after noon on July 27, 2007, two news helicopters collided while following a police chase through the busy streets of Phoenix, AZ. Four people were killed: pilot Scott Bowerbank and photographer Jim Cox from local news affiliate KTVK, and pilot Craig Smith and photographer Rick Krolak of KNXV. Although the wreckage of both helicopters littered the downtown including a park, thankfully nobody on the ground was injured.
News choppers are in the skies of many U.S. cities, covering everything from high-speed chases and hostage situations to concerts and other community events. Often, they are not alone in the sky. Other news helicopters fill the airspace, along with police helicopters and even fixed-wing airplanes flying through the area.
In this case, there were five news helicopters and one police helicopter at the time. Eyewitness reports state that one helicopter was hovering, filming the chase below, when a second one suddenly turned into it. Apparently the pilot of the moving helicopter was commenting on the scene below, and didn’t see the hovering chopper.
If this is the case (the accident was still under investigation as of this writing), it certainly raises serious safety issues. With the pilots flying around in “uncontrolled” airspace, it is up to them to keep a safe distance between each other.
“Typically air traffic controllers clear helicopters into an area where they can cover a chase like this,” said Ian Gregor, an FAA spokesperson. “Once they are in the area, the pilots themselves are responsible for keeping themselves separated from other aircraft.”
Still, mid-air collisions are rare – the accident in Phoenix is likely the only news helicopter crash involving collision in U.S. history. But competition is stiff, and pilots often jockey for position to get the best spot. The only thing keeping them from running into each other are their eyes and a dedicated radio channel used to ensure they know each other’s location in the sky.
Add to these factors the difficulties of night flying, poor weather and visibility, and pilot distraction, and it is a wonder that news helicopter crashes don’t happen more often.
Who is to Blame in a News Helicopter Crash?
It is very difficult to determine who is to blame in a case like this. Is it 100% pilot error? Or do the TV stations take some of the blame for sending the news choppers up there in the first place? What about the actions of other pilots, or even the passengers on the helicopters? In the Phoenix case, police were also considering laying charges against the subject of the car chase: police initially said that his fleeing from police could make him criminally liable for the accident.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a news helicopter crash, you can see how complicated the issue of compensation can become. You need someone on your side who can sort out the details, and make sure that you receive the money you deserve to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
You need David P. Willis.
Call us today for a free, no-obligation legal review of your case. We will help you understand the different variables in your case, and help you decide if litigation is in your best interest. Just as there can be many victims in a news helicopter crash, there can also be many causes including bad weather, defective parts, and other possibilities. Contact us now and let our law firm investigate your case so you will get the compensation you deserve.
Contact a News Helicopter Crash Lawyer
If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in a helicopter crash, then call us 24/7 for an immediate consultation to discuss the details of the accident and learn what we can do to help protect your legal rights. Whether the accident was caused by negligence on the part of the helicopter owner, hospital or corporation, the manufacturer or due to lack of training, poor maintenance, pilot or operator error, tail rotor failure, sudden loss of power, defective electronics or engine failure or flying in bad weather conditions, we can investigate the case and provide you the answers you need. Call Toll Free 1-800-883-9858 and talk to a Board Certified Trial Lawyer with over 30 years of legal experience or fill out our online form by clicking below: