Who can be held responsible for compensating the Mountain Lifeflight families, and who is immune from suit?   

Maintenance.  If faulty maintenance is proven to be the cause of this helicopter crash, the families can recover against the maintenance company, provided that the families can prove that the maintenance company was negligent.  There is

The NTSB’s preliminary report on the crash contains little more than what was in the news accounts. The report does, however, offer one bit of new information.  The helicopter impacted on a magnetic heading of 230 degrees.  That heading is not in line with the route from Reno to Susanville.  While that might ultimately prove to be important, little can be made

An A-Star AS350B air ambulance helicopter crashed November 14 at Doyle, California, killing the A-Star Helicopter that Crashed Saturdaythree crew members on board.  According to an article in the Reno Gazette Journal, the pilot made a distress call before the crash. That indicates that the pilot was likely experiencing a mechanical emergency. The photographs accompanying the article show that the wreckage was spread over a fairly large area.  That indicates that the pilot lost control of the helicopter well before he was able to attempt an emergency landing.

Under the circumstances, the NTSB will be looking at the helicopter’s


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There’s little question that EMS helicopters are the most dangerous aircraft in the sky. EMS helicopters have a fatal accident rate 6000 times that of commercial airliners. Flying EMS helicopters is one of the most dangerous jobs in America.  In fact, according to the Washington Post, only working on a fishing boat is riskier. 

Special rules protect careless health care providers in California.  The rules, collectively known as MICRA, were designed to make it harder for medical malpractice victims to sue the doctors who injure them. For example,

  • The medical malpractice victim must provide the defendant doctor a special notice before filing suit.
  • At any trial, special rules of

A reader of this post concerning air ambulance accidents asked, “Can the FAA really get away with ignoring the NTSB?"  The answer, to date, is "yes."  And there’s nothing the NTSB can do about it.

The whole reason the NTSB exists is to learn from accidents and make safety recommendations so that similar accidents won’t happen again.