Oct 9, 2013 6:18 PM by Erin Steuber
Wednesday's helicopter crash, that left one dead, and at least two injured, is raising questions about the company's safety record. According to their website, Panther Helicopters Inc. has been in business for more than 22 years and has "earned its reputation as one of the top air charter services in the South." But since 2000, the company's helicopters have been involved in three previous crashes, one just two months ago. In at least two of the crashes, investigators say the engine failed.
May 31, 2000:
According to the incident report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), at 9:30 a.m, a Bell 206-B helicopter, also owned and operated by Panther Helicopters Inc., was attempting to take off from a platform near Cocodrie. The pilot was the only person on board when the nose pitched up, causing the chopper to roll, fall off the edge of the rig 25 feet down where it landed on two unmanned crew boats. The pilot suffered serious injuries. NTSB determined the cause of the crash was pilot error when the tail of the helicopter became tangled in a safety fence.
September 29, 2004:
At around 5:08 a.m. the Bell 206-L helicopter, owned and operated by Panther Helicopters Inc., left Belle Chase headed for a platform in the Gulf of Mexico. According to NTSB, the pilot reported the hour-long flight had been uneventful until he tried to begin his descent to the platform about 400 yards away. The pilot, and crew, told NTSB the engine failed and the helicopter began to descending towards the Gulf. By 6:15 a.m. the plane crashed into the Gulf. The pilot attempted to deploy the flotation devices on board, twice, but was unsuccessful. The pilot and two passengers escaped the helicopter, without injury. The aircraft sank and was never recovered. The cause of the engine failure is unknown, the aircraft was equipped with a turbo shaft Rolls Royce engine.
August 13, 2013:
At around 1:10 p.m., the Bell 407 helicopter, was carrying a crew member and two passengers when it crashed in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil rig Trinity V reported the downed helicopter at Ship Shoal 208, southwest of Terrebonne Bay, with three people in the water. The three people on board the chopper were rescued by the nearby offshore supply vessel and airlifted to Thibodaux General Medical Center with minor injuries. The investigation determined the cause of the crash was engine failure. The cause of the failure is unknown. The helicopter, owned by Panther Helicopters Inc., was equipped with a turbo shaft Rolls Royce engine. That same type of engine was determined to be the cause of the crash in 2004.
October 9, 2013:
The cause of Wednesday's crash, that left one dead and at least two injured, remains under investigation. The U.S. Coast Guard says it received a call around 7:24 a.m. Wednesday morning in reference to the helicopter crash and the rescue efforts an off-shore vessel, Ridge, beginning rescue efforts. According to a Bobbie Ireland, director of corporate communications in the Americas for the Wood Group, the two injured passengers and a third, unharmed passenger, were airlifted to LSU Medical Center in New Orleans. Ireland says the the crash took place while the helicopter was coming off a crew change.
We have reached out to Panther helicopters Inc., but they have declined comment at this time.