The law firm of Krutch Lindell has opened an investigation into the tragic March 27, 2021, accident involving guests and clients of the Tordrillo Mountain Lodge. The crash, which occurred near the Knik Glacier, involved an Airbus AS350 B3 helicopter, chartered from Soloy Helicopters, a Wasilla-based charter company. Five people were killed, and a sixth person was seriously injured.
Jimmy Anderson is a partner at Krutch Lindell, as well as an FAA-licensed airplane and helicopter pilot. Mr. Anderson has handled multiple lodge-related aviation accidents, including those involving helicopter crashes with clients from luxury lodges, as well as accidents involving the B3 variant of the AS350. Mr. Anderson also has experience in Search and Rescue operations, and backcountry skiing.
“One of the challenges of heli-skiing is the management of multiple avenues of risk,” said Mr. Anderson. “There isn’t just the risk of backcountry and mountain skiing – but also the risk of mountain flying with helicopters.” “This accident occurred high in the mountains; the margin for error up there is thin.” The dangers in heli-skiing aren’t just in the run down the mountain – but also in the transport of the skiers.
Nate Bingham, also a partner at Krutch Lindell, and an Alaska-licensed attorney, weighed in: “flying in Alaska presents a number of unique challenges. Flying in mountainous terrain and severe weather—both of which are abundant in Alaska—can be risky. Additionally, due to the number of remote communities and tourist operations that are not accessible by road, aviation is far more common in Alaska than in any other state.”
Krutch Lindell partner Matt Clarke, who recently finished a lawsuit against manufacturer Airbus Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter) arising out of a fatal AS350B2 crash, said to expect investigators to also look into whether any problems with the helicopter may have played a role in the crash. “AStars [AS350 model helicopters] have had hydraulic system issues that can make the helicopter difficult to control and in some cases have resulted in crashes” said Mr. Clarke.
According to data published by the NTSB in 2016, Alaska has 5.4% of the fatal aviation accidents in the United States, despite having only .2% of the total population.