Helicopter crash survivors launch lawsuit

Survivors of a helicopter crash two years ago are suing the helicopter company and manufacturer. John Postma and Raphael Roy-Jauvin are suing Horizon Helicopters and the Robinson helicopter company.

Survivors of a helicopter crash two years ago are suing the helicopter company and manufacturer.

John Postma and Raphael Roy-Jauvin are suing Horizon Helicopters and the Robinson helicopter company.

On July 10, 2012 the pair were passengers doing wildlife survey research when the helicopter crashed east of Carcross near Nares Lake.

Postma was paralyzed from the waist down and Roy-Jauvin was also injured.

The pilot, Paul Rosset, was killed.

In documents filed in Yukon Supreme Court the two survivors say both companies were negligent and caused the crash.

According to the documents, the helicopter took off just before 9 a.m. “At the time of departure strong winds were forecast for Yukon,” the lawsuit says.

At about 3 p.m. the helicopter was approaching a landing site on a mountain ridge near Nares Lake.

“The helicopter encountered gusty wind conditions on its descent. As the pilot continued the approach, the main rotor of the helicopter slowed down. The helicopter lost lift, entered an uncontrollable descent and crashed into the ground,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit is claiming that the Robinson R44 helicopter has a history of accidents in gusty wind conditions, but that Horizon used it that day anyway.

Postma and Roy-Jauvin say the helicopter company failed to train the pilot appropriately in mountain flying and failed to establish the adequate procedures for approach to a mountain landing site.

When it comes to the manufacturer, the lawsuit says the company was negligent when it designed the rotor system the way it did.

The rear seats and seatbelts were also designed and manufactured in a way that “lacked any or adequate protection against injury in the event of a crash,” the lawsuit says.

The helicopter “incorporates a teetering main rotor design with flapping hinges in a low inertia system. As a result, the R44 is unusually sensitive to gusty wind conditions,” the lawsuit says.

It says the company failed to conduct the appropriate tests to clearly define the limitations of the helicopter in gusty conditions or predict the way the rotor would behave in those conditions.

The lawsuit also claims Robinson failed to warn Postma and Roy-Jauvin about the possible dangers including “that the incidence of loss of control in gusty conditions of the R44 far exceeds that of any comparable model on the market.”

Lawyers also claim the manufacturer should have warned the helicopter company “of defects in the design and manufacture of the R44 and in particular the main rotor system, which it knew or ought to have known existed in the R44 series of helicopters which rendered the helicopter susceptible to loss of main rotor RPM and lift.”

The two men are seeking unspecified damages. No statements of defence have been filed so far in the case.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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