Helicopter Crash in Morgan City Louisiana on October 29, 2010

Helicopter Crash in Morgan City, Louisiana on October 29, 2010

A helicopter crash in Morgan City, Louisiana on October 29, 2010 took the lives of six people on board. Investigators are currently working to determine why the plane went down. The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting an investigation. Insurance companies are also being sued.

Survivors

The wreckage of a Sikorsky S-76C++ helicopter that crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast Wednesday night killed eight people. It was carrying six passengers and two pilots on a trip to a Shell oil platform. Several of the people aboard the helicopter were oilfield workers.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash. It said a bird may have struck the aircraft before it crashed. Tests on the wreckage found microscopic bird remains.

One of the survivors is suing the manufacturer and the transportation company. The spokesman for the company wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit. Another passenger was injured. Two others were critical, according to the US Coast Guard.

The crash occurred around 6:35 p.m. in the gulf about 46 miles off Morgan City. A Coast Guard air station near New Orleans responded to the call. After 45 minutes of waiting, a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk aircrew rescued the two survivors.

Engine, transmission, flight controls, cabin structure, tail boom, and main rotors lost at sea

The Westwind Helicopter base was in Abbeville, Louisiana, transporting two workers to offshore platforms. It departed about 1631. When it reached Green Canyon 18, it refueled. A search helicopter spotted the wreckage of the accident helicopter at 1836.

Investigators have not yet determined what caused the crash. Two witnesses told investigators that the helicopter was hovering prior to the crash. They described a loud noise before it crashed.

In the days following the crash, investigators and Coast Guard personnel examined the wreckage. Several pieces were found, including the tail boom, main rotors, and cabin structure. The front left seat passenger saw the pilot slump over and was awakened by a sudden change in sound.

One of the more common causes of engine failures involves a loss of power. This is a particularly serious event as it can destroy turbine blades and compressor blades, causing loss of control. Some symptoms include the loss of primary parameters, a loud noise, and a rapid drop in fuel and N1 and N2 flow.

National Transportation Safety Board investigating

A helicopter crashed near Morgan City, Louisiana, last Sunday, killing eight people. An investigation is underway by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Two pilots and seven passengers were aboard the helicopter. The accident occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. Investigators were able to locate a cockpit voice recorder, a flight data recorder, and other debris.

A second maintenance recorder will be recovered today and sent to PHI’s facilities in West Lafayette, La., for analysis. In addition, portions of the wreckage layout will be studied in the NTSB’s laboratory in Washington, D.C.

The cockpit voice recorder was located at Fort Rucker, Ala., and recorded a loud bang followed by a fast descent. At the same time, the engine was failing. This was the earliest indication of a crash.

Other evidence of a bird strike included small feather parts found under the right side windscreen seal. Also, bird remains were found on rotor blades, rotor hubs, and in various inlets.

Insurance companies are defendants in the Western District of Louisiana actions

As a result of a helicopter crash, seventeen people died. Two of the victims were insured by an insurance company. The defendants are Aerospatiale Helicopter Corporation, American Home Assurance Company, Mission Viking, Inc. and PHI.

In addition to the claims of insurers, plaintiffs are bringing claims against various parties involved in the helicopter crash. The lawsuits allege various forms of negligence. Some of the allegations involve negligence in the design, manufacture, or testing of the helicopter.

One theory of recovery is strict liability. Another theory is business interruption. Yet another is the Jones Act. These theories can result in significant damages, including the loss of business.

The plaintiff in one action argues that the aircraft was a vessel for purposes of the Jones Act. Another issue is whether the aircraft was a vessel for purposes of federal law. A case in Maine addresses the question.

There are eleven pending cases in the Western District of Louisiana. Plaintiffs include Texco, Inc. and Pool Offshore. Texco and Pool Offshore are currently represented by Johnson & McAlpine.

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