Helicopter Door Opening During Flight Results in General Aviation Lawsuit

Case Title: Wight v. Robinson Helicopter

On February 4, 2012, a Robinson R44 II helicopter, VH-COK, crashed shortly after takeoff. The helicopter left Jaspers Brush Airfield in New South Wales, Australia, to conduct aerial photography. The photographer intended to record the launch of a deep-sea submarine for a television documentary. The pilot and a camera operator were both killed in the incident. Shortly upon liftoff, the door on the pilot’s side of the helicopter opened. A witness on the ground videotaped the entire incident and noted the pilot reaching to close the door. About five seconds after takeoff, the helicopter pitched nose up, with the tail striking the ground. Then the helicopter pitched forward, nose down, where the main rotor and one skid hit the ground. At that point, a fire began in the fuel tanks. Although the incident itself was easily survivable, both helicopter occupants were killed in the fire. Slack Davis Sanger represented the pilot’s family in a suit against the manufacturer. The firm’s previous experience with cases of post-crash fires in Robinson aircrafts was vital to securing the highest possible settlement for the negligent death of the pilot.

Mike Slack has been practicing law for over 36 years and has litigated hundreds of lawsuits. His experience as a licensed pilot and former NASA aerospace engineer gives him unique insight into aviation accident lawsuits.

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