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Why did Kurt Robinson’s Helicopter crash? What is the problem? It examines the differing viewpoints on the cause of these accidents. This is the main factor of the article. Thus, the manufacturer primarily blames the pilots, and concerns regarding the design of the helicopter are also being raised.
It introduces several tragic incidents involving Kurt Robinson Helicopters to highlight the severity of the issue. In 2015, Louisa Patterson, owner of Queenstown helicopter company Over The Top, tragically lost her son James in a helicopter crash.
Similarly, Christine McConway recounts the heart-wrenching moment when she last saw her son Damian Webster alive, who was a helicopter pilot based in Blenheim. Another witness, Jonathan Wallis, recalls the devastating moment he stumbled upon an oil slick and debris in Lake Wānaka, indicating that his brother Matt’s helicopter had crashed.
This article then delves into the ongoing debate surrounding the cause of these accidents. While Kurt Robinson Helicopter, the manufacturer, predominantly blames the pilots for these crashes, there is increasing skepticism regarding the helicopter’s design. Critics argue that the design flaws may contribute significantly to these accidents.
These concerns have prompted investigations into the design of Kurt Robinson Helicopters. Critics point out the lack of a fuel system that prevents fuel from igniting upon impact and the vulnerability of the fuel tanks.
The helicopter’s low-inertia rotor system has also received criticism for making it hard to recover from a low-rotor revolution situation.
Furthermore, experts argue that Robinson helicopters’ design makes them susceptible to accidents caused by various factors like pilot error, mechanical malfunctions, or unfavorable weather conditions.
It also emphasizes the need for a thorough examination and evaluation of the design and safety features of Kurt Robinson Helicopters. It is crucial to ensure that necessary improvements are made to prevent further accidents and save lives.
Kurt Robinson Helicopters Gain Popularity Despite Reports of Safety Concerns and Crashes
As per the report of the Stuff website, it said that nineteen individuals have lost their lives in mast-bumping accidents involving Kurt Robinson Helicopters in New Zealand.
Mast-bumping, also known as rotor blade divergence, occurs when a particular part of the main rotor machinery strikes the main rotor drive shaft.
Pilots have less than a second to react before the rotor blades cut through the cabin, leading to the helicopter’s break-up in mid-air.
While mast-bumping can potentially occur in any helicopter, it is particularly lethal in Kurt Robinson models, usually transpiring during turbulent or low-gravity conditions. The exact number of global deaths caused by mast-bumping remains unknown.
Nevertheless, it has been reported that 313 Robinson R44 crashes have resulted in 176 demises. Notably, the cause for these accidents remains undetermined in nearly 60% of occurrences.
The Californian-based Robinson Helicopter Company attributes the crashes to excessive or inappropriate pilot inputs. Essentially, the pilots’ responses in sudden low-gravity situations have been deemed incorrect.
However, concerns have persisted regarding the Kurt Robinson Helicopter rotor heads unique design possibly contributing to these accidents.
Accounting for a quarter of the total number of helicopters in the country, in the whole of New Zealand, the popularity of Kurt Robinson Helicopters is unmatched, with 225 of them registered.
This can be attributed to their affordability, as the price of a four-seater R44 model is approximately US$500,000, less than half the cost of competing models. Not only are they more cost-effective, but they are also extensively used for flight training, agricultural purposes, tourism, and commercial operations.
One individual who embraced the advantages of Kurt Robinson Helicopters is Choppy Patterson, who acquired her own R44 helicopter. It was utilized for conducting small group tourist flights and training sessions from the Over The Top Queenstown base.
However, tragedy struck when Choppy’s son, James Patterson Gardner, embarked on a final training flight before leaving for university in Sydney.
Accompanying him was instructor Stephen Combe aged 42 years, a highly qualified and experienced professional who had surpassed the necessary safety certification for Kurt Robinson Helicopters.
Regrettably, their helicopter and lifeless bodies were discovered hours later amidst a thick bush in the Lochy Valley. Once the incident was investigated by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission, no specific cause for the helicopter’s mid-flight disintegration was determined.
However, it was revealed that mast-bumping, a phenomenon associated with rotor blades striking the main rotor mast, had taken place.
Shockingly, this incident marked the 17th and 18th unexplained mast-bumping fatalities in Kurt Robinson Helicopters in New Zealand, following closely after the tragic death of Damian Webster in the Kahurangi Forest.
After the unfortunate accident that claimed the lives of a mother and her son, the Transport Accident Investigation Commission took immediate action by adding the Helicopters involved to its list of aircraft to closely monitor.
This decision prompted prominent organizations like the Department of Conservation to suspend their use of these helicopters as well.
In light of the incident, TAIC also provided a set of recommendations. Some of these suggestions were implemented by the Civil Aviation Authority, which included adopting new safety awareness measures specifically for Kurt Robinson Helicopters.
Nonetheless, various critics, including Patterson, expressed their concerns regarding the adequacy of these measures. Patterson even went a step further by advocating for a coroner’s inquiry into the tragic crash.
Recently, this inquiry was conducted in Queenstown, causing significant public interest over the course of the past two weeks.
Court Proceedings Revealed: Key Details Disclosed
The 2015 helicopter crash, which resulted in devastating consequences, has left people perplexed as there was no apparent cause for the accident. The court learned that the weather was favorable, the chances of turbulence were low, and the pilot and student had sufficient experience and skills.
However, Kurt Robinson Helicopter Company safety notices stated that low-gravity situations were almost always fatal. The company advised pilots not to attempt low-gravity maneuvers, even during training.
Nonetheless, pilots had less than a second to react, and the controls in Robinson helicopters were extremely sensitive. The prohibited practice of the life-saving maneuver has left pilots uncertain about the course of action.
A 2017 crash involving a Kurt Robinson Helicopter on the West Coast highlighted the conflicting advice, as an experienced pilot successfully saved the helicopter by following their instinct rather than the company’s advice.
Thus, the fact has raised concerns as there is no way to trial different suggestions to determine their effectiveness. The deputy standards pilot, James Forward, admitted that the crash and subsequent findings have deterred him from flying Kurt Robinson Helicopters.
Therefore, until the cause of mast-bumping is determined and effective prevention measures are put in place, he expressed reluctance to fly in one again.
Kurt Robinson Helicopter: Lack of Information
The court has heard that the lack of information has made it difficult to understand mast-bumping crashes.
The Transport Accident Investigation Commission has recommended the use of in-flight visual and data recorders similar to black boxes in commercial airlines for small aircraft, but the Ministry of Transport has not yet taken action after five years.
This type of lack of information has hindered accident investigations and has led to further accidents occurring. As per the United States implemented new rules and regulations to address mast-bumping crashes, but similar measures have not been taken in New Zealand.
As per the study depending on the Georgia Tech School of Aerospace Engineering to develop a simulation model also fell through due to a lack of funds. The Kurt Robinson Helicopter Company declined to participate in the Queenstown inquest, although they provided some details of a study at the University of Maryland.
However, the project was not completed, and the company is now continuing the study with a professional engineering firm. Andrew McGregor, director of forensic engineering company Prosolve, has stated that there are still many unanswered questions about mast-bumping in Kurt Robinson helicopters, and an independent body needs to develop an analytical model to investigate the effects of all variables.
Nevertheless, the court claimed and the bereaved mother involved in the case are urging further investigation to prevent future accidents.
Kurt Robinson Helicopter: When Danger Comes Spinning
In a brief flight, a four-seat helicopter crashed immediately after takeoff, resulting in the death of the pilot and two passengers. This incident adds to the troubling statistics of Robinson helicopter accidents, which have claimed over 600 lives globally since 1982.
The Kurt Robinson Helicopter company has faced numerous lawsuits alleging negligence and attempts to avoid responsibility.
However, Robinson’s president disagrees with the ranking of his helicopters as the most accident-prone. Thus, it is considered as an America’s Deadliest Helicopter.
How about a helicopter that’s accessible to everyone?
In 1973, engineer Frank Robinson founded the company in his home in Rancho Palos Verdes. Robinson’s passion for helicopters began at a young age when he saw a picture of Igor Sikorsky hovering in a prototype. This moment inspired Robinson to pursue a career in helicopter manufacturing.
Robinson constructed the first prototype of the R22, a two-seat, piston-engine helicopter, in a hangar at Torrance Airport, which is now the location of the company’s extensive 600,000-square-foot factory.
Currently, the company offers three main helicopter models. The report claimed that the R44 sells for approximately $475,000, the R22 for roughly $300,000, and the R66, a five-seat turbine-powered model introduced in 2010, cost about $900,000.
However, the company faces a significant challenge that has yet to be resolved. Akbari, an industry expert, describes it as a “double-edged sword.” This challenge refers to an issue with the design of the helicopters, specifically regarding the teetering rotor system.
Kurt Robinson Helicopter: The rotor design is one-of-a-kind
Kurt Robinson Helicopter utilizes its own version of a two-bladed main rotor that teeters on a hub atop the mast. Teetering rotor systems, including Kurt Robinson Helicopter’s design, are susceptible to a phenomenon known as mast-bumping.
Mast-bumping occurs when the seesawing motion of the rotor becomes so extreme that the hub or the inner ends of the rotor blades strike the mast. This poses safety concerns and requires the company to find a solution to mitigate this issue.
Mast-bumping, a phenomenon commonly observed in low-gravity situations, can lead to detrimental consequences. This occurrence is often triggered by erroneous pilot actions or turbulent atmospheric conditions.
While some helicopters may only sustain minor harm from mast-bumping incidents, Robinson helicopters have experienced catastrophic outcomes. Numerous aviation experts and investigation reports from both the United States and foreign accident investigators confirm that rotor systems have detached, and blades have inflicted damage to cockpits or tail booms in such instances.
According to the report based on The Times news, it was scrutinized all investigation reports published since the implementation of the new regulation and ten fatal crashes involving Kurt Robinson Helicopters where signs of mast-bumping were observed by investigators.
A Question of Awareness
The analysis conducted by The Times supports Robinson’s claim that their pilots have less experience. However, reports from the NTSB provide examples of skilled pilots who tragically lost their lives in accidents that the agency had deemed survivable.
One such case is that of Jim Bechler, an Orange County attorney with over 30 years of experience flying Robinson helicopters. In 2008, he purchased a new R44 and was flying back home from a business meeting near Temecula.
During a refueling stop at Corona Municipal Airport, the helicopter took off with 40 gallons of fuel in its tanks and ended up colliding with a metal canopy over the fuel island.
The Transport Accident Investigation Commission in New Zealand has expressed concern regarding the prevalence of accidents involving mast bumping in Robinson helicopters.
These accidents have raised doubts about the safety of flying these helicopters in the country’s mountainous terrain and challenging weather conditions.
It is important to note that the risk of mast bumping in turbulent weather conditions increases when the Kurt Robinson Helicopter is operating at a high power setting, high speed, and lighter weight.