Robb: Downed med copter could have had mechanical issues - Mid-South News, Weather, Traffic and Sports | FOX13

Robb: Downed med copter could have had mechanical issues

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

A Hospital Wing helicopter that veered off course and crashed Tuesday near Fayette County Airport in Somerville is an American Eurocopter AS350 model, a very popular chopper for medevac among police, fire, and hospitals.

Aviation expert Gary Robb, who has spent 32 years as an aviation lawyer, suspects mechanical problems might have caused the tragedy. Robb knows the industry especially when it comes to helicopters.

Though he has not been on the ground in Fayette County, his gut tells him pilot error was not the cause of the crash.

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American Eurocopter has plants in Texas and Mississippi. Its website says the model AS350 has a reputation as a true multi-mission workhorse.

Its mission on Tuesday ended in disaster in Fayette County.
    
"This is a real human tragedy," Robb said. "Three human beings lost their lives. They were dedicated professionals."

Although it reached the top of Mt. Everest, this helicopter model has been involved in seven crashes since 2005 according the National Transportation Safety Board. Many of those accidents were pilot error, although no determination has been made in Tuesday's tragedy.

"This is a helicopter with an above average safety records that constantly exceeds the average safety record for a helicopter in that class," Robb said.

The AS350 B3, the same model that went down in a forest, is a favorite among medevac units from Alaska to Tennessee.

"A nice size cabin that would accommodate two flight nurses and of course large enough to be specially equipped to hold a patient in a stretcher," Robb said.

Robb believes Tuesday's fatal crash was not pilot error.

"It could be a control problem with either the tail rotor and the main rotor or the engine producing power," Robb said. "You just don't know because this was an excellent pilot. This was a superbly experienced pilot."

As of Wednesday there is no mention of Tuesday's fatal crash in Fayette County on Eurocopter's website. Press releases from the company in the last few days focus on sales and safety awards Eurocopter has given to its clients.

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