Wigwe: In 2024 alone, USA has experienced 6 air crashes, 22 accidents

THE United States of America has seen 22 air accidents between January 23 and February 11 2024, recording 6 crashes in the process, Economy Post has found.

According to checks at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States, 16 passengers were on board when the 6 air crashes occurred. There was no information as to whether they all died or survived.

The world’s most powerful nation experienced 2 crashes on February 9, 2024, one of which involved the helicopter carrying Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank Plc, Mr Hebert Wigwe, his wife, Chizoba; son, Chizzy; and lawyer and former Group Chairman of the Nigerian Exchange Group Plc, Mr Abimbola Ogunbanjo.

They were involved in an Eurocopter EC 130 crash near Nipton, California, around 10 p.m. local time on February 9. None, including 2 pilots, survived the accident. 

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Before the accident killed the Nigerian passengers at 10pm, a Bombardier Challenger 600 jet had crashed on Highway I-75 near Naples, Florida, around 3:15 p.m. local time. Five people were on board, according to the FAA. 

Air crashes in detail

The first of the air crashes occurred on January 30 when a single-engine Vans RV-6 crashed at Buchanan Field Airport in Concord, California, around 10:30 a.m. local time. Only the pilot was on board.

On February 1, a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza V35 crashed into a residential area in Clearwater, Florida around 7 p.m. local time, after the pilot reported an engine failure. Only the pilot was on board, said the FAA.

Another air crash happened on February 6 when a Robinson R-44 helicopter crashed into a pond in Tombigbee State Park in Mississippi around 8 p.m. local time, after departing Tupelo Regional Airport.  Only the pilot was on board.

The following day (February 7), a Hawker 900XP jet crashed northwest of Grand Junction Regional Airport in Colorado around 10:50 a.m. local time. The aircraft was en route to Tacoma Narrows Airport in Pierce County, Washington. Two people were on board.

Air crashes have not occurred since February 9 when a helicopter crash killed Mr Wigwe and others, but there have been 6 air accidents.

Air accidents

There have been 22 air accidents in the United States in 2024. On January 23, FAA reported that “a single-engine Piper PA-28 landed in a field after experiencing a power issue near Vero Beach Regional Airport, in Florida, around 9:30 a.m. local time on Tuesday, Jan. 23. Two people were on board.”

Late Hebert Wigwe, wife, Chizoba, and son, Chizzy Source: Linda Ikeji

On January 24, a wreckage of a single-engine Cessna 172 occurred in the Everglades off I-75 near Weston, Florida, around 10:50 a.m. local time.

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On January 27, “American Airlines Flight 271, an Airbus A320, made a hard landing on Runway 20 at Kahului Airport in Hawaii at approximately 2 p.m. local time,” FAA reported.

On January 28, a United Airlines Flight 1627 diverted due to a cracked windshield, but it later landed safely at Denver International Airport in Colorado.

On January 31, the United Airlines Flight 575 reported a possible engine issue. The Boeing 737 took off from Charlotte, North Carolina, and was headed to Houston, Texas. It however landed safely at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Similarly, a single-engine American Champion Citabria 150 landed on a beach in Half Moon Bay, California on Thursday afternoon, February 8. Only the pilot was on board. 

Also, on the same date, the left winglet of JetBlue Flight 777 struck the right horizontal stabilizer of JetBlue Flight 551 on the deicing pad at Boston Logan International Airport around 6:40 a.m. local time on. Airbus A320Neo and Flight 551 was an Airbus A320.

Similarly, JetBlue Flight 1320 landed safely at Richmond International Airport in Virginia around 8:15 p.m. local time on February 8, after the crew reported a security issue. The Embraer 190 departed from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and was headed to John F. Kennedy International Airport. Contact law enforcement for additional information.

Are helicopters safe?

Since the death of Wigwe and family on February 9, there have been debates as to whether helicopters are safe or not.

Morgan and Morgan, America’s largest injury law firm, says: “Riding in a helicopter is far less safe than flying on a commercial airline or taking an Amtrak train, but significantly safer than riding in a car or truck.”

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Injury lawyers, Bailer Javins and Carter, said helicopters do not have set flight patterns, runways to take off and land on, and the guidance of a trained air traffic controller. This, according to the group, makes helicopters dangerous.

“Helicopters are also typically flown into areas that may not be accessible with any other type of aviation machinery,” the group said.

“Airplanes take off from one airport or landing strip and land at another and they maintain a certain altitude during various phases of the flight. Helicopters, on the other hand, often take off and land several times during the same flight to pick up and drop off passengers, pickup and drop off cargo, or similar reasons. Whenever an aircraft employs more frequent takeoffs and landings, there is always a greater risk of an accident.”

The firm said helicopters do not have the ability to fly above turbulent weather conditions.

Helicopters have 9.84 accidents per 100,000 flight hours compared to 6.29 for private planes, according to Aviation Outlook.

Context is important

Helicopter crashes have killed a number of people across the world, particularly in the United States. On January 26, 2020, Mr Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash while on his way to a game with his daughter, Gianna.

Five Marines were killed in a helicopter crash during a storm in the mountains outside San Diego on February 9 – the day Wigwe and family died. There have been hundreds of helicopter crashes in the USA.

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However, an aviation expert, Mr Izu Odibo, explained that the issue should be put into perspective.

“In the United States, flight traffic is higher than that of most countries in the world. So, you are bound to have some incidents. Just like you have in road traffic, so do you have in air traffic. You are more likely going to have more road accidents in Lagos or Abuja than in Osun or Enugu.

“But the difference between what you have in the US and what you have in so many countries is the response, which is faster. In fact, despite the number, air crashes are relatively lower in the United States,” he said.

Role of passengers

Australian aviation regulator, Civil Aviation Safety Authority, has advised passengers to always remove hats and loose items while going into helicopters, urging them to not approach the helicopter without the pilot’s instruction to do so.

Apart from fastening the seat belts, the regulator said doors must be closed appropriately.

“If there are no doors, remove all loose items from your pockets and store them as directed by the pilot. If there are doors, do not open them on landing until the pilot indicates for you to exit,” the regulator said.

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