An Airbus EC-130 helicopter (fka Eurocopter) crashed in the Grand Canyon on Saturday February 10, 2018, leaving three dead and four in critical condition. Arizona Daily News, The Arizona Republic, KSNV Channel 3, FOX 5 Vegas, Las Vegas Review Journal and Univision Las Vegas turned to Mike Slack and Ladd Sanger, who have handled numerous crashes involving this aircraft, as well as a prior crash by tour operator, Papillon Helicopters, to discuss what might have caused the accident.
According to Slack and Sanger, Papillon Helicopters has had fatal crashes like this in the past; and the EC-130 has had an estimated 25 crashes between January 1, 2001 and February 11, 2018. “In this particular crash, we saw a post-crash fire, which we’ve also seen in several other crashes we’ve handled. Airbus has been aware that its helicopters have a tendency to explode in otherwise survivable impacts, but has chosen not to improve the crashworthiness of its fuel systems,” said Slack.
According to Sanger, this is particularly problematic since Airbus helicopters already have a tendency to experience engine failures. “Too many passengers have died or suffered horrible burn injuries because of the tendency of Airbus helicopters to explode in otherwise survivable crashes,” said Sanger.