Some of the world’s most popular places to travel can be found all across the United States. Attractions and travel destinations like the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon, and the beautiful landscapes of California and Hawaii bring in thousands of tourists from across the country and the world each year.
Most of these travel destinations provide helicopter or plane tours to take one’s traveling experience to a new level. Sightseeing tours, however, can often be risky due to a lack of proper oversight. Most sightseeing tours are provided by privately owned or small aviation companies operating under stricter rules and safety procedures. In many cases, pilots may also engage in dangerous maneuvers to give their passengers a thrilling experience, leading to fatal accidents.
Leading Experts in Aviation Accidents
At Wilshire Law Firm, our lawyers are recognized leaders in the aviation industry. They handle all types of aviation accidents, including sightseeing tour crashes. Our aviation attorneys possess extensive experience and are highly skilled in investigating and identifying the many factors that lead to an airplane or helicopter tour crash, such as:
- Insufficient pilot experience and training
- Negligent hiring of tour company by cruise ship or other third parties
- Improper aircraft maintenance
- Negligent operation of an airplane
- Defective manufacturing parts or aircraft design
- Weather conditions
What are the risks when flying on a sightseeing tour?
Helicopters and small airplanes are often used in sightseeing tours because they are easy to fly at high altitudes and provide the best views of the landscapes and monuments surrounding these experiences. Though, sightseeing tours can be one of the most dangerous experiences. Flying over mountainous areas and snow or volcano-filled regions can be very exciting, but they pose a significant risk for pilots and passengers alike. These areas are often subject to drastically changing weather conditions, which can severely affect a pilot’s control over the helicopter or aircraft in use, often leading to fatal crashes.
In addition to the dangers of operating through these areas, the aircraft used in sightseeing tours often consist of older models owned by small private companies that fail to provide proper maintenance. In many instances, manufacturing defects, inadequate maintenance, or pilot error are the leading causes of sightseeing tour crashes. At Wilshire Law Firm, our aviation attorneys provide excellence in their legal services. We are highly qualified to represent the victims and families of an airplane accident, including sightseeing tour crashes.
What are the common causes of crashes on sightseeing tours?
Wilshire Law Firm has handled numerous airplane accident cases that involve disruptive weather conditions. As in most sightseeing tour crashes, sudden changes in weather conditions can severely affect a pilot’s ability to navigate their aircraft correctly. As a result, pilot error can significantly contribute to the airplane crashing. In contrast to airline carriers, pilots of small tour planes require fewer hours of training and fly with less supervision while operating aircraft that lack the same standard of safety technology found in larger airplanes.
Larger aircraft and commercial airplanes are built with safety technologies that show current weather—even as it changes. This technology allows a pilot to accommodate their airplanes to changing weather patterns and avoid accidents. In contrast, most small planes are not equipped with these safety technologies. Additionally, many popular sightseeing destinations experience constant weather changes. If a pilot is not experienced enough to operate under these circumstances, their actions and judgment can lead to fatal accidents.
Pilots of tour planes and helicopters face risks from visual flight rules (VFR). Aircraft bound by these rules must fly in low altitudes in crowded areas, such as the airspace above Los Angeles and Chicago. When operating under visual flight rules, pilots are responsible for being aware of any incoming air traffic despite not knowing flight schedules, flight altitudes, and routes of any aircraft operating in the air space. Usually, only one pilot is navigating the flight and acting as a tour guide. This workload can become too much for the pilot to handle in many cases, eventually leading to fatal crashes.
Case Study – Hawaii Sightseeing Tour Crash
On September 23, 2005, the pilot of a sightseeing tour helicopter in Hawaii claimed to have seen another helicopter approaching in his direction. However, the passengers and other pilots in the area disputed this claim. After avoiding the approaching helicopter, the pilot flew into a storm and rapidly lost control of the helicopter. The sightseeing tour ended in a fatal crash in which two passengers drowned and two others were severely injured.
This case we handled illustrates the challenges faced by passengers of small aircraft and helicopter tour planes. Following this helicopter crash, The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) criticized the Federal Aviation Administration for its minimal supervision and lack of safety measures such as flotation devices in Hawaiian tour flights. The NTSB heavily criticized the inexperienced pilots operating these tours. In this instance, the pilot had only two months of experience flying in Hawaii, which explains why he could not maintain control of the aircraft as soon as he flew into the storm.
Types of Sightseeing Tour Crashes Handled by our Firm
Our law firm has extensive experience in handling personal injury, wrongful death, and product liability lawsuits resulting from all types of aviation accidents. Senior Partner and Aviation Attorney A. Ilyas Akbari and his team have represented victims of helicopter tour crashes caused by general negligence and product liability claims against the biggest airplane manufacturers in the country such as Aerospatiale, Bell Helicopter Textron, Hughes Helicopters, McDonnell Douglas, Messerschmitt-Bolkow Blohm, Robinson Helicopters, and Sikorsky, among others.
No matter where the airplane accident occurred, our aviation attorneys can file a lawsuit on your behalf to protect your rights and secure monetary compensation for any losses sustained in the accident. Our lawyers have extensive experience in representing victims of helicopter tour crashes that occur in any and all popular U.S. tourist destinations, including Hawaii, New York City, Las Vegas, Catalina, and the Grand Canyon. Our team even represents victims of tour crashes outside of the United States.
If you or a loved one have sustained injuries or losses from a sightseeing tour crash, call us today for immediate assistance or a free consultation with our leading aviation attorneys.