Engler v. Turbomeca
On January 2, 2013, an Airbus EC 130 helicopter owned and operated by Air Methods as an air ambulance experienced engine failure shortly after takeoff and crash-landed in an open field near Seminole, OK. All four occupants of the helicopter were seriously injured. The destination of the flight was a hospital in Okemah, Oklahoma. It was a daytime flight and visual meteorological conditions were in force. The pilot filed a visual flight rules flight plan.
The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine, helicopter, and instrument helicopter. He stated that on the morning of January 2nd he received a standby call for a response to an accident scene. In preparation, he checked the weather and performed a walk-around inspection of the helicopter. Shortly after the pilot took off, the pilot stated he heard a sound like something struck the helicopter and the engine failed. The pilot performed an autorotation in order to land the helicopter in a nearby open field, managing to avoid powerlines and a barbed wire fence before crashing.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the engine inlet cover had been left off the helicopter a few days before the incident flight. During this time, rain, drizzle, and ice could have entered the engine inlet. They stated that it was probable that ice had accumulated in the inlet and was ingested by the engine and damaged its compressor blades. They stated that the maintenance personnel were responsible for failing to install the engine inlet cover. However, the inlet cover was an aftermarket part that was poorly designed to allow water to accumulate, freeze, and then be potentially ingested in the engine.
Slack Davis Sanger represented the three passengers on the flight. They were all emergency medical technicians or other health professionals. All three suffered serious injuries including back, neck and knee injuries. Several of the passengers had a series of major surgeries and spent time in rehabilitation facilities. Slack Davis Sanger secured settlements from several entities involved with the manufacture and maintenance of the helicopter, helping to pay for present and future medical needs.Investigative Report