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Families of passengers file lawsuit against Keystone

June 17, 2009, Philadelphia. PA - The families of 15 passengers who died in the crash of a Sikorsky helicopter off Newfoundland and the sole survivor are suing a subsidiary of the company in the U.S.


June 17, 2009
By Corrie


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June 17, 2009, Philadelphia. PA – The families of 15 passengers who died in the crash of a Sikorsky helicopter off Newfoundland and the sole survivor of the tragedy are suing a subsidiary of the company in the United States.

Martin Brigham, a Philadelphia lawyer, says he has submitted a complaint before the U.S. court of common pleas naming Keystone helicopters, a Pennsylvania-based subsidiary of Sikorsky.

In an email statement to The Canadian Press, he says the families of the offshore oil rig workers want answers on the safety issues raised by the crash.

The S-92 Sikorsky aircraft, operated by Cougar airlines, plunged into the North Atlantic shortly after leaving St. John’s on March 12, killing 17 of the 18 people on board, including the pilot and the co-pilot.

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The statement from the law firm says the primary purpose of the families is to “get answers to serious questions about the design of the S-92 helicopter.”

A spokesman for Keystone was not available to comment.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is still investigating the crash, but it has said that titanium mounting studs that attach an oil filter bowl assembly to the main gearbox broke during the flight.

The board has said the pilots indicated there was a problem with the main gearbox oil pressure before the crash.

The titanium studs have since been replaced with steel under a directive first issued by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

Breakage of a mounting stud “could result in rapid loss of oil, failure of the main gearbox, and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter,” the FAA said in its order.

Sikorsky was made aware of the issue last August when an S-92A was forced to make an emergency landing in Australia after experiencing low oil pressure. The company issued an Alert Service Bulletin in January, asking that operators replace the studs within a year or by 1,250 flight hours.

The company has not commented directly on the gearbox problem reported before the crash off Newfoundland.

The Transportation Safety Board has said it remains unclear precisely what caused the crash, but less than 10 minutes after the oil pressure loss the chopper slammed at high speed into the Atlantic, about 65 kilometres southeast of St. John’s.

Robert Decker, the lone survivor, escaped through the helicopter’s window.

In his statement, Brigham says the families want to “use the legal system to ensure that other families never have to experience this type of tragedy.”

The statement also says the families are seeking financial compensation, but doesn’t provide the amount being sought.

THE CANADIAN PRESS


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