Medical Helicopter Collided With Cessna 172 On New Year's
A preliminary hearing was held this week in a
civil lawsuit filed against a medical helicopter operator stemming
from an accident December 31st, 2010, in which two people on board
a Cessna 172 were fatally injured.
According to the preliminary report filed by the NTSB in the
"(A) Eurocopter EC-135-P2
helicopter, N312PH, operated by Petroleum Helicopters Incorporated
(PHI) as AirCare 5, and a Cessna 172H, N2876L, collided in midair
approximately 1/2 mile northwest of the Shenandoah Valley Regional
Airport (KSHD), Weyers Cave, Virginia. The Cessna airplane departed
controlled flight after the right wing separated and the airplane
was destroyed by impact forces at ground contact. The helicopter
sustained minor damage and landed safely at SHD.
The certificated commercial pilot
and passenger on board the airplane were fatally injured. The
certificated commercial pilot and two medical flight crewmembers on
board the helicopter were not injured. Visual meteorological
conditions prevailed for the airplane's local personal flight that
originated from SHD, at 1402, and for the helicopters positioning
flight that originated from the University of Virginia Medical
Center (8VA5), Charlottesville, Virginia, about 1410. A company
flight plan was filed for the helicopter positioning flight, and no
flight plan was filed for the airplane flight, which were both
conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal
Regulations Part 91."
Television station WVIR reports that the families of the two
people fatally injured in the accident have filed a wrongful death
suit against AirCare5, PHI, and the pilot, Paul Wayne Weve. The
suit claims negligence on the part of the pilot for making an
improper approach to the airport, overtaking the Cessna from above
and behind. The suit also claims that the companies offered "lax
management" and "poor oversight" of the operation of the
PHI's attorneys argued that the lawsuit does not merit a
wrongful death trial. A judge in Augusta County, VA will rule on
that issue in the next several weeks.
The NTSB has not yet determined the probable cause of the
accident, which will not be admissible as evidence in court.