Topic: Aviation Law
Australian authorities will continue to allow Robinson R44
helicopters to fly despite issuing a safety warning to fix a potentially deadly
fire risk found in the chopper’s fuel tank according to a story published on March 13, 2012 by The Sydney Morning Herald. The safety warning included a
recommendation to replace the chopper’s current fuel tank with a flexible tank
bladder that would help prevent fuel from leaking out into the passenger cabin
after impact in a crash. Another safety recommendation included a new rotor
brake switch that would make the chances of igniting fuel vapor less likely.
The safety recommendations come on the heels of a deadly Robinson R44 crash in
New South Wales that killed American documentary filmmaker and marine biologist
Mike deGruy, and Australian filmmaker Andrew Wight. According to records, the
filmmakers’ R44 was serviced regularly but did not have the recommended
flexible fuel tank bladder when it crashed shortly after lifting off from
Jasper’s Brush. The crash prompted the Australian Transport Safety Bureau to
urge Robinson R44 owners to replace the aforementioned parts "as soon as
possible." The problem with the recommended fuel tank and brake switch
retrofits is that there is currently a shortage of replacement parts for the
R44, which means that many helicopters will go unfixed, potentially leading to
more fatal Robinson helicopter crashes in the future.
Australian authorities will continue to allow Robinson R44 helicopters to fly despite issuing a safety warning to fix a potentially deadly fire risk found in the chopper’s fuel tank.