Since January 1, 2000, there have been 165 people killed in 96 crashes involving Robinson helicopters in the United States, according to National Transportation Safety Board records. Since 1982, there have been 512 deaths in 291 Robinson crashes worldwide. The law firm of Slack & Davis has handled numerous cases involving Robinson helicopters that have crashed. Naturally, respective attorneys are asked for comments regarding these cases. Helicopter pilot and Slack & Davis aviation attorney Ladd Sanger is one of them.
Mr. Sanger notes that Robinson R44 helicopters, manufactured prior to December 2010, and all R22 helicopters, have fuel tanks that are susceptible to rupture. The helicopter’s fuel system design is the culprit, causing numerous deaths due to post-crash fires in crashes that would have otherwise been survivable.
What has been Robinson’s answer to these post-crash fires? The helicopter manufacturer has been aware of its susceptibility for years, yet its response was to publish Safety Notice 40, in July 2006, which essentially tells pilots to require all occupants to wear fire proof suits, gloves, and helmets.
Finally, in February 2012, after numerous post-crash fires, Robinson issued Service Bulletin SB78, making the installation of the more crashworthy fuel tanks mandatory by December 31, 2013.
Robinson has not, however, initiated a recall of the old-style fuel tanks or asked the FAA to issue an Airworthiness Directive to require replacement of the problematic fuel tanks. According to Sanger, there are still thousands of Robinson helicopters with the unsafe, “bladderless” fuel tanks. “Until the fleet is retrofitted, we will continue to see preventable tragedies,” Sanger said.
Slack & Davis is the preeminent firm for Robinson Helicopter cases. Contact us today if you or a loved one has been a victim of a Robinson crash.
Robinson Helicopter Crashes – Facts
- The R44 has a faulty fuel tank that can explode on impact — turning minor and survivable accidents into deadly infernos.
- In a special two-year investigation, 60 Minutes (Australia) uncovered dozens of crashes blamed for the deaths of 78 people in the past 10 years alone. Slack & Davis aviation attorney Ladd Sanger was interviewed as part of the investigation and on-air report: https://www.slackdavis.com/fatal-flaw-robinson-r44-helicopter/.
- As a result, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority issued a directive that grounded all Robinson R44 helicopters without upgraded fuel tanks as of May 1, 2013. https://www.casa.gov.au/standard-page/r44-helicopter-fuel-tank-airworthiness-directive
- Since January 1, 2000, there have been 165 people killed in 96 crashes involving Robinson helicopters in the United States, according to the National Transportation Safety Board records.
- Since 1982, there have been 512 deaths in 291 Robinson crashes worldwide.
History of Robinson Helicopters
Frank Robinson founded Robinson Helicopter Company in 1973. The company has approximately 1,000 employees and is currently one of the world’s leading manufacturers of civil helicopters. The reason this page is featured on the Slack & Davis website is because of the number of cases the firm’s attorneys have tried against Robinson. Two Robinson helicopter models are the subjects of crashes more than any others:
The R22 BETA II Helicopter
The R22 seats two and is flown throughout the world for many applications, such as flight training, livestock mustering, and patrolling pipelines.
Number built: 4484
Incidents on record: 1230
The R44 Raven/Clipper Helicopter
The R44 Raven/Clipper Helicopter seats four and is used for private, business, utility applications, and training.
Number built: 5610
Incidents on record: 378
There have been a total of 378 recorded incidences with the Robinson R-44, according to the Aviation Safety Network. An accident investigation by Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) found that a significantly higher proportion of R44 aircraft (12%) caught fire after crashing. The R44 was found to be prone to post-accident fires because of the damage to the aluminum auxiliary fuel tank, causing the fuel to leak out. The company began installing bladder-type fuel tanks in all new R44 helicopters and also issued a Service Bulletin requiring R44 helicopters with all-aluminum fuel tanks to be retrofitted with bladder-type tanks.
|Role of the Robinson R-44||Light Utility and Trainer Helicopter|
|Manufacturer of the Robinson R-44||Robinson Helicopter Company|
|First flight of the Robinson R-44||March 31, 1990|
|Introduction of the Robinson R-44||1993|
|Status of the Robinson R-44||In Production|
|Robinson R-44 Production||1990-present|
|Number of Robinson R-44s built||5610 (as of 2012)|
|Unit cost of the Robinson R-44||from US$425,000 (2011)|
|Robinson R-44 developed from||Robinson R-22|
|Variants of the Robinson R-44||Ravel – II, Raven – I|
|Crew of the Robinson R-44||1-2 pilots|
|Capacity of the Robinson R-44||four, including pilot|
|Length of the Robinson R-44||459″ (11,65 m)|
|Rotor Diameter of the Robinson R-44||33 ft (10.1 m)|
|Height of the Robinson R-44||10 ft 9 in (3.3 m)|
|Payload of the Robinson R-44||800 lb (408 kg)|
|Empty Weight of the Robinson R-44||1,450 lb (657.7 kg)|
|Loaded Weight of the Robinson R-44||2,500 lb (1,134 kg)|
|Tail Rotor Diameter of the Robinson R-44||4 ft 10 in (1.5 m)|
|Powerplant of the Robinson R-44||1 × Lycoming IO-540-AE1A5 6 cylinder, flat engine with fuel injection, 245 bhp (183 kW)|
|Maximum Speed of the Robinson R-44||30 kn (240 km/h; 150 mph)|
|Cruise Speed of the Robinson R-44||110 kn (200 km/h; 130 mph)|
|Range of the Robinson R-44||300 nmi (560 km; 350 mi)|
|Robinson R-44 Altitude Restrictions||14,000 ft (4,300 m) density altitude or 9,000 ft (2,700 m) above ground level in order to be able to reach ground within 5 minutes in case of fire.|
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/-jvl-/