Pilot Settling With Power Results in General Aviation Lawsuit

Case Title: McKean v. Cenac

On January 29, 2012, a Robinson R44 II, N369TL, crashed outside Centerville, Louisiana. The flight originated in Houma, Louisiana and was seen circling at a low altitude before the crash. A fire ensued after the collision. Both the pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Witnesses stated that they saw the helicopter circling at a low altitude and that the pilot waved at them. None of them witnessed the impact, but they saw smoke and brought fire extinguishers to aid in the rescue.

NTSB Findings

The NTSB investigation found no evidence of mechanical failure but stated that the probable cause of the accident was the pilot allowing the helicopter to settle with power while maneuvering at a low altitude. Settling with power is a condition in which the helicopter continues descending even though full engine power is being applied. It creates a “vortex ring state” or donut air pattern around the rotor which can keep the helicopter from ascending. As this occurred, the helicopter collided with trees and crashed, catching on fire afterward. Slack Davis Sanger represented the family of the passenger who was killed due to the negligence of the pilot, an employee of Cenac Marine Services.

Ladd Sanger is an attorney and a licensed pilot who focuses on aviation accidents, including product liability, product litigation, and representing clients who have been injured as a result of aviation accidents. His experience as a pilot helps him understand the technical aspects of aviation crashes.

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