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Two Lawsuits Filed In Life Flight Helicopter Crash that Killed Four

A Flight Life Eurocopter EC145 helicopter crashed last September, killing four people on board. Now, two families are seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

The pilot and two flight nurses were transporting a cancer patient to the hospital when the crash occurred. Witnesses reported hearing a “popping noise” and seeing a trail of smoke from the rear of the helicopter before it went down.

In a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), investigators said that one of the engines showed signs of “overheating and lack of lubrication,” a bearing in the engine was excessively worn, and the transmission could not be rotated by hand. Although the final results of the investigation are still pending, the FAA officially linked the case to a January incident in which a pilot of the same model helicopter performed a successful emergency landing.  In that incident, the pilot said he caution and warning lights went off and he heard a “hissing sound,” followed by the smell of exhaust fumes and an “orange glow” from the rear his helicopter. He activated fire extinguishers and brought the craft down safely on an airport runway.

The FAA indicated that “under certain circumstances” a blocked oil engine drain line could “present a risk of an engine fire” and completely shut down the engine. While not mandated, the agency is urging owners and operators of the Eurocopter EC145 to perform extra checks of its engine compartment every 100 hours of flight time to look for a blocked oil drain line.

The recent lawsuits contend that the crash could have been prevented. They claim the pilot was negligent for failing to perform proper emergency procedures when the engine failed. The lawsuit also alleges that the helicopter manufacturer and an engine company supplied unsafe equipment and that more safety procedures should have been implemented after the January incident.

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