According to a study of “Helicopter Crashes Related to Oil & Gas Operations in the Gulf of Mexico” at least 178 helicopter crashes occurred between 1983 and 2009. This is an average of at least 6.6 helicopter crashes per year in the Gulf of Mexico alone. Importantly, the study found that in between the years 2000 and 2009, the average helicopter crash rate was 8.2 per year.
The study determined that these crashes resulted in 139 fatalities, of which only 41 were pilots.
Causes of the crashes included pilot error (47%), mechanical failures (38%), and bad weather (16%).
After crashes or emergency landings on water, 15 helicopters sank when flotation devices were not activated automatically or by pilots.
In a separate study, the CDC found that getting to work was one of the most hazardous aspects of an offshore oilfield worker’s job. The CDC study concluded that “Transportation events were the leading cause of fatalities.” The authors of the CDC Offshore Oilfield Fatality Study found:
- During 2003–2010, a total of 128 fatalities occurred in activities related to offshore oil and gas operations in the United States, an average of 16 per year.
- All but one fatality occurred in Gulf of Mexico operations.
- Seventy-five percent of transportation events were associated with aircraft, all of which were helicopters (49 fatalities). Seventeen helicopter events occurred; 11 of these resulted in 43 (88%) of the fatalities.
- In five events, a total of nine fatalities involved occupants who survived the initial impact but later drowned.
Operating complicated machinery like helicopters in a salt-water environment with every changing weather conditions requires vigilance. It requires the operating company to know the weather conditions, and it requires an operations staff and pilot crew with the fortitude to delay a flight rather than flying in questionable conditions. However, these studies show that the time pressures associated with oil and gas drilling cause people to make the wrong decision in all too many instances.
The NTSB and the FAA require constant inspections and preventative maintenance. Yet, mechanical issues were cited as a factor in almost forty percent of the crashes, and in several instances flotation devices and safety equipment did not perform as it should.
If you or someone you care about has been injured in a plane or helicopter crash, you need experienced legal counsel, and you need it now. The Stilwell Law Firm has handled helicopter crashes for over twenty-five years and we know how to deal with the regulatory agencies and insurance companies who will be controlling all the information. We also know the time following an accident can be confusing, full of questions, and not a lot of answers. The Stilwell Law Firm excels at getting you the answers you need. We are here to walk you through the process and will be with you every step of the way.
Call us today at 844-931-3111 or 713-931-1111. We are so sure of our ability to help you, that you do not pay unless we win.
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