Slack Davis Sanger partner Ladd Sanger is no stranger to litigating complex fatal helicopter crashes, particularly those in remote Alaskan landscapes where weather and visibility often exacerbate the severity of a case. Sanger provided insight on the latest Airbus AS350 B3 helicopter crash that killed five, including the Czech Republic’s richest man Petr Kellner, in the rugged Knik Glacier, northeast of Anchorage Alaska.
Sanger was quoted in both the Anchorage Press and the Aspen Daily News, the hometown paper of one of the victims in that crash, Greg Harms. He discussed the elements that a National Transportation Safety Board investigation would look at in this particular crash, including the condition of the aircraft, its service record, any modifications, and suitability for the assigned mission. The investigation will also examine the weather conditions, as well as the training, experience, judgment, and previous record of the Soloy Helicopter pilot. Also, the instructions, rules, and discretion the company’s management followed and communicated to the pilot will be weighed.
“In the best of conditions, helicopter tour operations in remote mountainous areas like Alaska can be risky, and the high probability of sudden changes in weather or visibility poses an increased danger,” Sanger said. “Our firm has handled several Alaska helicopter crashes that occurred because the clouds and white snow-covered mountains caused the pilot to lose visual horizon reference, resulting in spatial disorientation. The results can be deadly.”