Hicks v. Blue Hawaiian

On January 17, 2016, an Airbus EC130 T2 helicopter with registration number N11VQ operated by Blue Hawaiian experienced a sudden loss of engine power, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing, injuring the pilot and all six passengers. The flight was off-shore on a sightseeing tour when the pilot heard a low rotor rpm aural warning horn. He made a sharp turn to avoid boulders below, entered autorotation, and landed hard on the beach. The flight occurred during the day, under visual meteorological conditions.

The first problem occurred about half an hour into the flight, when the helicopter experienced an uncommanded yaw to the right. Several instrument dials began showing problems, including the engine oil pressure and the fuel pressure lights. The pilot turned back to the shore and saw a rocky, unsuitable landing area. As the helicopter continued to descend and the engine to slow, the pilot banked to the right and maneuvered toward a sandy beach. Within approximately one minute from the initial problem, the helicopter impacted the beach. The crash was caused by loss of engine power. The engine’s main fuel injection pipe was cracked and broken at the B-nut connection.

The pilot held a commercial certificate with a helicopter rating. As of the time of the accident, he had 4,550 total flight hours, with 2,500 hours in the Airbus EC 130 helicopter. This tour helicopter was configured with six passenger and a single pilot seat. The seats were composite bucket seats attached to seat legs and seatback supports. The supports contained energy-absorbing features as required by federal aviation code. When the seats were subjected to high-vertical loads, the bucket seat should move downward while the supports stretched and absorbed the energy. However, during the crash, the energy-absorbing seats failed to function properly, resulting in serious injuries to the passengers.

The company had the passengers view a safety video prior to the flight and an employee helped to strap them into their seats correctly. Despite these measures, the pilot and all the passengers suffered vertebral compression injuries. Several passengers suffered sternum fractures as well. One passenger became a paraplegic.

Slack Davis Sanger is representing the passengers, a family who has suffered tremendous medical bills, pain, suffering, and trauma on what was supposed to be a family vacation. This case is still being actively pursued.

Investigative Report

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