Public Service

Bell to Pay $21M for Fatal 2013 Air Med Crash, Reports Say

By S.L. Fuller | October 6, 2017

helicopter silhouette

A Kentucky jury decided that Bell Helicopter should pay $21.7 million to the families of three people who died in a 2013 EMS helicopter crash, multiple news outlets reported.

June 2013, according to the NTSB’s final report, a 206L-1 owned and operated by Air Evac EMS Inc. crashed in Manchester, Kentucky. The helicopter was destroyed after it impacted the ground in an elementary school parking lot. The NTSB said it was on approach to the company’s landing zone. The pilot and two medical personnel were killed.

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The NTSB found the probably cause to be the "pilot’s loss of helicopter control due to spatial disorientation when he inadvertently encountered night, instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in the in-flight separation of the main rotor and tailboom."

According to media reports, the aviation attorney representing the families, Gary C. Robb, claimed that Bell executives admitted they were aware of a defect in the main rotor blade manufacturing process and had done nothing to fix it. He, according to reports, said the defect caused the entire roof section of the crashed helicopter and tailboom to break off the helicopter, causing the crash. News outlets reported that Robb said the families were “demanding” the FAA launch a probe.

Bell reportedly plans to appeal, on the basis that the NTSB investigation did not find the alleged manufacturing defects.

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