This Robinson R44 crash was in Australia.
Witnesses said that nearby restaurant staff “grabbed every fire extinguisher in the building, but there were too many flames . . . There was nothing anyone could do.”
No occupant of a properly-designed helicopter should be burned in an otherwise survivable impact. Unfortunately, the fuel tanks installed in all Robinson R44 helicopters manufactured before 2010 are not properly designed.
On Friday, the ATSB (the Australian equivalent of the NTSB) confirmed that the accident helicopter was equipped with the all-aluminum fuel tanks, rather than the bladder-type tanks now available for retrofit. The ATSB urged all R44 owners to get their tanks retrofitted after the February 4, 2012 R44 crash that killed noted Australian filmmakers Andrew Wight and Mike deGruy. But less than half of the 4000 Robinson Helicopters with the defective tanks have been fixed.
Passengers killed in this latest crash included a couple who were checking out their wedding venue.
Other low-impact R44 helicopter crashes that have resulted in fires since the new tanks have been made available:
- January 19, 2012, Centerville Louisiana (2 Fatalities).
- February 4, 2012, Australia (2 Fatalities).
- September 18, 2012, Slaton, Texas (No injuries).
- November 25, 2012, Corona Municipal Airport (1 Fatality).