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Helicopter Crash Litigation: Third Edition

Helicopter Crash Litigation: Third Edition

$ 495.00

  • Author: Gary C. Robb
  • ISBN 10: 1-936360-94-2
  • ISBN 13: 978-1-936360-94-9
  • Copyright Date Ed:  July 26, 2023
  • Pages: 656
  • Binding Information: Casebound
  • Size: 11 X 8.5 Inches (US)

Helicopter Crash Litigation, Third Edition is, simply put, an essential volume for any lawyer litigating a helicopter crash case. No other book is devoted exclusively to the representation of plaintiffs in helicopter crash cases. These unique cases require a different approach and techniques, which you will learn from accomplished trial lawyer Gary C. Robb, who has used these same techniques in a brilliant career as a trial lawyer.

For forty years, Robb has handled numerous helicopter crash lawsuits throughout the country. His long-standing success earned him the recognition by Forbes Magazine as “by far the most successful helicopter crash attorney in the country.” His $350 million jury verdict in 1995 on behalf of a pilot killed in a helicopter crash and his $70 million jury verdict for a young woman killed in that same crash are the two highest jury verdicts in helicopter crash cases in U.S. history.

In this book, Robb leads you through the myriad complexities that inevitably arise from cases involving these unique flying machines. Helicopter crash litigation is difficult. From start to finish, these cases are as complex and challenging as any to be found in civil litigation. This book removes some of that mystery and offers practical and useful advice, giving you the tools to successfully litigate such cases. Utilizing this book, you will be able to maximize the prospects of success for persons injured in helicopter crashes and for the families of those who have had loved ones killed in those crashes.

This indispensable text travels through the different knowledge and skill sets critical in the successful handling of these cases, ranging from the basic elements of helicopter structure and flight, through the preliminary factual investigation, filing the case, discovery, common defenses, damages and trial. Real helicopter case examples are utilized throughout so as to give context to the suggestions and techniques discussed. The author also recommends safety improvements within the helicopter industry for preventing these accidents in the future.

This Third Edition address recent developments that directly impact helicopter crash litigation:

  1. The U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark jurisdictional opinion in Ford v. Montana;

  2. The “Helicopter Fuel System Safety” Amendment requiring crash resistant fuel systems (CRFS) on all newly-manufactured helicopters in the U.S.;

  3. The now rebuffed efforts by helicopter manufacturers to use the Federal Officer Removal Statute to forum-shop out of state court; and

  4. Updates to all of the legal, statutory and regulatory framework applicable to helicopter crash litigation.

Gregory P. Joseph, former chair of the American Bar Association Section of Litigation and president of the American College of Trial Lawyers (2010-11), says, “This unique and invaluable book puts you in a position to get a helicopter crash case to trial, in a forum of your choice, and to try it successfully.”

Topics Include

  • Helicopter Flight, Operation and Control
  • Helicopter Crash Dynamics
  • Common Crash Sequence and Impact Scenarios
  • Pre-Filing Matters
  • Factual Investigation
  • National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Weather and Environmental Conditions
  • Collectibility and Insurance Coverage Issues
  • Liability Experts: Selection, Retention and Utilization
  • Helicopter Wreckage: Acquisition, Preservation and Storage
  • Military Helicopter Crashes
  • Filing the Helicopter Crash Lawsuit
  • Wire Strike Incidents
  • Pilot Error
  • Maintenance Personnel
  • Manufacturer of Helicopter
  • Discovery and Case Development
  • Document Requests
  • Common Defenses in Helicopter Crash Cases
  • State Statutes of Limitations and Repose
  • General Aviation and Revitalization Act (GARA)
  • Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA)
  • Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests
  • Forum Non Conveniens
  • Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act
  • Contributory or Comparative Negligence
  • Common Evidentiary Issues
  • Demonstrative Evidence
  • Computer-Generated Animation or Simulation of Crash Sequence
  • Photographs of Crash Scene and Helicopter Wreckage
  • Daubert Challenges
  • Damages In Helicopter Crash Cases
  • Punitive Damages
  • Pre-Trial Matters
  • Trial Matters
  • Jury Selection
  • Opening and Closing Statement
  • Cross-Examination
  • Safety Improvements for the Helicopter Industry
  • Mission-Specific Recommendations for Enhanced Safety
  • Sample Pleadings in Helicopter Crash Cases
  • Significant Helicopter Crash Case Decisions

Table of Contents

About the Author
Foreword  Preface to Third Edition
Preface to Second Edition
Preface to First Edition

Part I:

The Basics of Helicopter Structure, Operation and Performance

Chapter 1: Introduction to Helicopter Flight

Operation and Control 


11.1 Helicopter Structure and Flight Systems 

A. Basic Structure 

B. The Rotor System 

1. Torque 

2. Blade Flap 

3. Blade Pitch 

4. Blade Lead or Lag 

C. Helicopter Systems 

1. Piston Engines 

2. Turbine Engines 

3. Transmission 

4. Main Rotor System 

5. Swashplate Assembly 

6. Tail Rotor Drive System 

7. Fuel System 

8. Electrical System 

9. Hydraulic System 

1.2 Flight Controls and Operation 

A. Collective Pitch Control 

B. Cyclic Pitch Control 

C. Swashplates 

D. Tail Rotor Pedals 

E. Throttle Control 

1.3 Helicopter Aerodynamics: What Makes It Fly? 

A. Aerodynamic Forces 

B. Aerodynamic Lift 

C. Angle of Attack and Stall 

D. Translational Lift 

E. Flight Stability 

F. Height Velocity Diagram or Dead Man’s Curve 

1.4 Piloting a Helicopter 

A. The Hover 

B. Take Off to Forward Flight 

C. Turns 

D. FAA Requirements 

1.5 Emergency Conditions—Flight Irregularities and Systems Malfunction 

A. Autorotation 

B. Hydraulic System Failure 

C. Dynamic Rollover 

D. Ground Resonance 

E. Settling With Power 

F. Retreating Blade Stall 

G. Loss of Tail Rotor Effectiveness 

H. Failure of Tail Rotor System 


Chapter 2: Helicopter Crash Dynamics—Common Crash Sequence and Impact Scenarios 


2.1 Impact Categories 

A. Hard Landing 

B. Survivable Crash 

C. High Impact Crash 

2.2 Impact Dynamics 

A. Direction of Impact 

1. Vertical Impact 

2. Horizontal Impact 

3. Angled Impact 

B. Rotational Inertia 

2.3 Common Mechanical System Failures 

A. Engine Failure 

1. Turbine Engine Failure 

2. Piston Engine Failure 

B. Transmission Failure 

C. Main Rotor System Failure 

D. Tail Rotor System Failure 

E. Control System Failure 

F. In-Flight Fire 

1. Electrical Fire 

2. Fuel Fire 

G. Restraint System Failures and Crashworthiness 

H. Electrical System Malfunction 

I. Helicopter Structure, System or Component Part Design Failure 

Endnotes 28

Part II:

The Basics of Helicopter Crash Litigation

Chapter 3: Pre-Filing Matters 


3.1 Preliminary Factual Investigation 

A. Initial Client Contact and Retention—The

Statutory Time Constraints 

B. Initial Interaction with the National

Transportation Safety Board 

C. Inspection and Documentation of the Helicopter Crash Site 

D. Acquisition of Investigative Materials from

Local Government Agencies and Media Outlets 

E. Interviews of All Eye and Ear Witnesses to the Helicopter Crash 

F. Acquisition and Review of Engine and

Maintenance Logbooks 

G. Assessing Weather and Environmental


H. Pilot’s Training, Certification and Ratings 

I. Collectibility and Insurance Coverage Issues 

J. Practice Checklist: Helicopter Crash Initial

Factual Investigation Checklist 

3.2 Early Selection, Retention and Utilization of

Liability Experts 

A. Criticality of Early Retention 

B. Selecting the Necessary and Appropriate Fields

of Expertise 

C. Considerations for Hiring Helicopter Crash


D. Use of Team Approach for Liability Experts 

E. Expert Assistance Throughout Investigation and Discovery 

3.3 Acquisition, Preservation and Storage of the

Helicopter Wreckage 

3.4 Inspection and Examination of the Helicopter Wreckage 

3.5 Factual Investigation of Military Helicopter


3.6 Acquisition of Records from the Federal Aviation Administration 

A. Air Traffic Control Data 

B. Aircraft Ownership Records 

C. Pilot’s Flight and Medical File 

D. Service Difficulty Reports and Accident/Incident Reports 

E. Service Letters, Service Bulletins and Airworthiness Directives 

F. Federal Aviation Regulations 

3.7 Mining Technical and Professional Journals 

3.8 Accepting or Declining the Representation 

A. Standard for Accepting Representation Helicopter Crash Cases Which Should Be


1. Minimal Injury or Close Call Cases

2. Crashes of Experimental or Home-Built Helicopters 

3. Claims for Pilot or Pilot’s Family in Face of Pilot’s Clear Negligence 

4. Lawyer-Switching Clients 

5. No Plaintiff Scenarios 

6. Target Defendant Judgment Proof or Insolvent 

7. The Unsure Plaintiff 

8. The Previously Filed and Mishandled Case 

C. Avoiding Conflicts of Interest in Multiple


D. Filing Suit Promptly After Representation



Chapter 4: Filing the Helicopter Crash Lawsuit 


4.1 Determining the Cause of the Crash 

A. Loss of Main Rotor Control 

B. Loss of Tail Rotor Function 

C. Main Rotor Strike to Fixed Obstacle 

D. Helicopter Component Part or System Failure 

E. Helicopter Engine Failure or Power Loss 

F. Wire Strike Incidents 

G. Pilot Error 

H. Pilot Incapacitation 

I. Pilot Distraction 

J. Pilot Spatial Disorientation 

K. Improper Maintenance 

L. Mid-Air Collision 

M. Avionics or Instrument Failure 

N. In-Flight Fire or Explosion 

O. Mid-Air Break-Up or Structural Failure 

P. Fuel Starvation, Exhaustion or Contamination 

Q. Sabotage and Combat Operations 

R. Weather or Environmental Factors 

S. Air Traffic Control Error 

4.2 Assessing Survivability and Crashworthiness


A. Occupant Protection 

B. Restraint Systems 

C. Structural Integrity and Seat Design 

D. Post-Impact Fire or Explosion 

4.3 Non-Occupant Injuries and Deaths 

A. Boarding or Deboarding Incidents 

B. Persons On Ground 

C. Maintenance-Related Accidents 

4.4 Identification of Potential Target Defendants 

A. Pilot of Helicopter 

B. Operator of Helicopter 

C. Maintenance Personnel 

D. Manufacturer of Helicopter 

E. Distributor of Helicopter 

F. Helicopter Engine Manufacturer 

G. Helicopter Component Part Manufacturer 

H. Air Traffic Control 

I. Lessor of Helicopter 

J. Owner or Leasee of Helicopter 

K. Travel Coordinator, Broker or Concierge 

L. Fixed Base Operator 

M. Pilots of Other Aircraft 

N. Electrical or Utility Companies 

O. Wire Strike Protection Manufacturers 

P. Film Production Companies 

Q. Hospitals or Regional Medical Centers 

R. Certification or Testing Laboratory 

S. Flight Training Schools 

T. Airport, Heliport, or Helipad Operators 

U. Helmet, Seat or Seat Belt Manufacturer 

V. Fire and Rescue Personnel 

4.5 Jurisdictional and Choice of Laws Issues 

A. Jurisdiction Over Foreign Helicopter or Helicopter Component Manufacturers 

1. The Impact of Ford v. Montana in Helicopter Crash Lawsuits 

2. Jurisdictional Discovery 

B. Specific versus General Jurisdiction 

C. Selection of Lawful and Appropriate Forum 

1. Jurisdiction Over Essential Defendants

2. Liability, Procedural and Evidentiary Considerations

3. Damages Issues 

4. Choice of Law Considerations 

D. Venue 

E.The Federal versus State Court Decision 

F. Filing Foreign Helicopter Crash Cases in U.S. 

4.6 Dealing With Specialized Statutes and Regulations Potentially Applicable to Helicopter Crash Lawsuits 

A. General Aviation and Revitalization Act 

B. Federal Tort Claims Act 

C. Death on the High Seas Act and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act 

D. Federal Aviation Regulations 

E. State Workers’ Compensation Statutes 

F. State Statutes Imposing Liability on Aircraft Owners and Leasees 

4.7 Finding and Working with Local Counsel 

4.8 Common Legal Theories in Helicopter Crash


A. Negligence 

B. Strict Products Liability 

C. Breach of Warranty 

1. Express Warranty 

2. Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose 

3. Implied Warranty of Merchantability 

D. Fraud and Misrepresentation 

E. Liability for Punitive Damages 

4.9 Pleading Issues 

A. Drafting the Initial Complaint 

B. Challenging Sufficiency of Defendant’s Answer 


Chapter 5: Discovery and Case Development 


5.1 Sequence of Discovery 

5.2 Written Discovery 

A. Effective Use of Interrogatories 1

B. Effective Use of Document Requests 

1. Aircraft Type Certification 

2. Field Data and Customer Feedback 

3. Reported Accidents or Incidents 

4. Company Organization Chart 

5. Insurance Documentation 

6. Airworthiness Directives, Service Letters and Service Bulletins 

7. Warranty Claims and Lawsuits 

8. Internal Engineering Meeting Minutes and Memoranda 

9. Subject Accident Investigation File 

C. Effective Use of Request for Admissions 103

1. Jurisdictional and Venue Facts 

2. Defendant’s Relation to the Aircraft or Product at Issue 

3. Accident Facts 

5.3 Fact Depositions 

A. On-Scene Witnesses 

B. Maintenance Personnel 

C. NTSB Investigators 

D. FAA Personnel 

E. Surviving Passengers 

F. Pilot and Co-Pilot 

G. Defendant Manufacturer’s In-House Engineers

and Employees 

H. Remaining Defendants

I. Plaintiff’s Deposition 

5.4 Expert Depositions 

A. Preparing Plaintiff’s Experts 

B. Deposing Defendant’s Experts 

5.5 Common Discovery Issues 

A. Conducting Discovery in Foreign Countries 

B. Utilizing Freedom of Information Act


C. Discovery in U.S. Military Helicopter


D. Protective Orders 

E. Electronic Discovery 

1. Discovery of Electronically-Stored Information (ESI)

2. Organizing and Retrieving Electronic Data 

F. Proportionality Considerations 

G. Use of Virtual or Remote Depositions 

5.6 Case Development Matters 

A. Consolidation for Discovery or Trial 

B. Discovery Schedule and Trial Setting 

5.7 In-Depth Examination and Testing 

A. Of Subject Helicopter, Engine and Component

Part or System 

B. Of Exemplar Helicopter, Engine and

Component Part or System 

5.8 Alternative or Informal Discovery Methods 

A. Networking With Other Aviation Counsel 

B. Patent and Trademark Searches 

C. Defendant’s Litigation History 

D. Defendant’s Website 

E. Technical and Trade Literature 

Endnotes 1

Chapter 6: Common Defenses in Helicopter Crash Cases 


6.1 Time-Based Defenses 

A. State Statutes of Limitations and Repose 

B. General Aviation and Revitalization Act 

1. Knowing Misrepresentation Exception 

2. Air Ambulance Exception 

3. Out of Aircraft Exception 

4. Written Warranty Exception 

5. Re-triggering Provision for New Part or System 

6.2 Jurisdictional Defenses 

A. Federal Preemption 

B. Forum 

C. Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act 

D. Federal Officer Removal Statute 

E. Outside of Maximum Reach of Long-Arm


6.3 Substantive Defenses 

A. Product Misuse or Alteration of Component


B. Contributory or Comparative Negligence 

C. Assumption of Risk 

D. Government Contractor Defense 

E. Useful Safe Life Presumptions 

F. Compliance with Government Standards 

G. State of the Art Defense 


Chapter 7: Common Evidentiary Issues 


7.1 Preparation and Effective Use of Demonstrative Evidence 

A. Model of the Subject Helicopter or System 

B. Topographical Model or Map of Crash Site 

C. Computer-Generated Animation or Simulation of Crash Sequence 

D. Computer Animation of Helicopter Component or System Function 

E. In-Court Demonstrations or Experiments 

7.2 Photographs of Crash Scene and Helicopter


7.3 Jury View of Helicopter Wreckage 

7.4 NTSB Reports 

7.5 FAA Records 

A. Air Traffic Control Communications 

B. Governmental Investigative Reports 

C. Non-Accident Specific FAA Documents and Materials 

7.6 Service Difficulty Reports, Airworthiness

Directives, Service Bulletins and Service Letters, and Malfunction and Defect Reports 

A. Service Difficulty Reports 

B. Airworthiness Directives 

C. Service Bulletins and Service Letters

D. Malfunction and Defect Reports 

7.7 Internal Company Documents 

7.8 Daubert Motions to Exclude Expert Testimony 

A. Meeting the Daubert Challenge 

1. Retain the Most Qualified Expert Possible for That Particular and Narrow Subject Matter _

2. The Expert’s Report Must Be Comprehensive and All Facts Must Be Supported by Reference  

to the Record _

3. Learn the Judge’s Specific Daubert Approach _

4. Schedule Daubert Hearing as Early as Possible _

5. Never Rely on an Expert’s Affidavit but Present Live Testimony _

6. Compare and Contrast with Defense Expert Qualifications _

7. Have All Trial Demonstrative Aids Ready _

8. Retain More Experts and Narrow Field of Expertise _

9. Discretely Handle the "Testing" Issue _

B. Challenging Defense Experts 

7.9 Substantially Similar Incidents and Crashes 

A. Legal Standard for Admissibility 

1. Offered as Proof of Causation 

2. Offered as Proof of Design or Manufacturing Defect 

3. Offered as Notice of Defect 

4. Offered as Proof of Negligence or Failure to Warn 

5. Offered as Impeachment of Defendant’s Experts 

6. Rebuttal of Defendant’s Contentions 

7. Offered as Proof of Punitive Liability 

B. Meeting the Challenge to Similar Incident


7.10 Subsequent Remedial Measures 

7.11 Prior Lawsuits and Claims 

7.12 Federal Aviation Regulations 

7.13 Use of Accident Statistics 


Chapter 8: Damages In Helicopter Crash Cases 


8.1 Non-Unique Damages Issues In Helicopter Crash Cases

A. Wrongful Death 

1. Economic Loss 

2. Non-Economic Loss 

B. Debilitating Physical Injury 

8.2 Typical Damages Issues In Helicopter Crash


A. Pre-Impact Terror 

1. The Legal Framework 

2. Sufficiency of Pre-Impact Terror Evidence 

3. Proving Pre-Impact Terror 

4. Sample Direct Examination of Pre-Impact Terror Expert 

B. Post-Impact Conscious Pain and Suffering 

C. Severe Burn Injuries 

D. Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) 

E. Ground Impact Damages 

F. Hull Damage 

8.3 Punitive Damages in Helicopter Crash Cases 


Chapter 9: Pre-Trial Matters 


9.1 Final Trial Preparation 

A. Logistics and Witness Scheduling 

B. Dismissal of Non-Essential Defendants and


C. Witness Selection 

D. Editing Videotaped Deposition Testimony 

9.2 Final Witness Preparation 

A. Client Preparation for Trial 

B. Fact Witness Preparation for Trial

C. Expert Witness Preparation for Trial 

9.3 Final Briefing Preparation 

A. Motions in Limine 

1. Settlement Negotiations or Offers to Settle 

2. Reference to the NTSB Probable Cause Report 

3. Potential Financial Burden of An Adverse Verdict On Any Defendants or Reference to Limited Assets or Wealth 

4. Plaintiff’s Attorney’s Fees or That Plaintiff’s Attorneys Have a Contingency in the Recovery 

5. That Any Damages Awarded Would Not Be Subject to Taxes 

6. Expressions of Sorrow, Remorse or Apology By Helicopter Crash Defendants 

7. That the Trial or Civil Justice System is a “Lottery” or “Crapshoot” or “Monopoly Game” or Similar Language Intended to Impart Unflattering Intentions to Plaintiffs 

8. Argument By Defense Counsel That We Live in a “Litigious Society” or “Sue Happy Society” 

9. Defense Expert Opinions for Which That Expert is Not Qualified 

B. Trial Brief 

C. Trial Memoranda 

9.4 Request for Sequestration of Witnesses 

9.5 Use of Jury Focus Group and Jury Consultants 

9.6 Dealing with Media in High Profile Helicopter Crash Cases 

9.7 Development of Case Theme for Trial 

A. Case Theme Examples 

1. “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It.” 

2. “The Helicopter Manufacturer Ran a Red Light.”

3. “You Break It, You Pay For It.” 

4. “When You Point To Someone Else, Three Fingers Point Back At You.”

5. “Do As I Say, Not As I Do.” 

6. “Don't Bother Me With The Facts.” 

7. “Johnny Didn’t Break The Lamp, But…” 

B. Case Theme Reversing Principle Weakness in


C. Case Theme Focusing on Specific Impact of


D. Case Theme Directly Contrary to the Main


9.8 Jury Instructions 

A. General Considerations 

B. Standard Jury Instructions 

1. General Jury Instructions. 

2. Elements of Recovery 

3. Affirmative Defenses 

4. Punitive Damages Liability 

5. Damages Elements 

6. Procedure and Manner of Deliberations Instructions

7. Form of Verdict 

C. Examples of Jury Instructions 

1. Instruction as to Statement of Case 

2. Instruction as to Film Company Negligence 

3. Instruction as to Pilot Negligence 

9.8 Settlement Considerations 


Chapter 10: Trial 


10.1 Jury Selection 

A. Objectives 

B. Suggested Voir Dire Questions, Trial Excerpts

and Commentary 

1. Previous Experience with the Court System 

2. Prior Knowledge of the Helicopter Crash 

3. Experience of Accidental or Sudden Death of Relative or Close Friend 

4. Aviation Experiences and Beliefs 

5. Other Relevant Experiences 

6. Philosophical, Religious or Moral Beliefs Interfering with Ability to Serve as Juror 

7. Relevant Beliefs about Court System 

10.2 Opening Statement 

A. Objectives and Suggested Techniques 

1. Do Not Argue the Case and be Absolutely Precise about the Facts 

2. Do Not Use Notes 

3. Be Yourself 

4. Make Extensive Use of Exhibits and Demonstrative Aids 

B. Sample Outline of Opening Statement 

1. Capsule 

2. Civics 

3. Rules and Standards of Conduct 

4. Identification of Helicopter and Component Part or System at Issue 

5. Story of the Helicopter Crash 

6. Liability and Fault 

7. Damages Caused By Defendants’ Conduct 

8. Defenses 

9. Wrap Up 

C. Trial Excerpts and Commentary 

10.3 Plaintiff’s Case-In-Chief 

A. Direct Examination of On-Scene Witnesses 

B. Direct Examination of Defendant’s Corporate Representatives 

C. Direct Examination of Plaintiff’s Expert


1. Sample Direct Examination Outline: Plaintiff’s Aircraft Accident Reconstruction Expert 

2. Trial Excerpts and Commentary 

D. Direct Examination of Damages Witnesses 

1. Objectives and Suggested Techniques 

2. Trial Excerpts and Commentary 

E. Direct Examination of Plaintiffs 

1. Objectives, Suggested Techniques and Sample Outline

2. Trial Excerpts and Commentary 

10.4 Defendant’s Case-in-Chief 

A. Cross-Examination of Defendant’s Corporate Representative 

B. Cross-Examination of Defense Expert


10.5 Plaintiff’s Rebuttal Evidence 

10.6 Closing Argument 

A. Objectives and Suggested Techniques 

B. Sample Outline of Closing Argument

1. Closing Capsule 

2. Jury’s Role 

3. Preliminary Jury Instructions 

4. What Happened? 

5. Review of the Required Elements for a Finding of Liability as to Each Defendant 

6. Measuring the Harms and Losses to the Plaintiff 

7. Suggesting a Verdict Range 

C. Trial Excerpts of Liability Argument and Commentary 

D. Trial Excerpts of Damages Argument and Commentary 

10.7 Plaintiff’s Rebuttal Argument 

Part III:

Safety Recommendations

for the Helicopter Industry

Chapter 11: Generic Safety Improvements for the Helicopter Industry 


11.1 Safer Design and Manufacturing Processes 

A. Addressing Known Design and Manufacturing Deficiencies 

B. Enhanced Reporting of Helicopter Accidents

or Incidents and Component or System


C. Combatting Post-Impact Fires by Installation of Crash Resistant Fuel Systems 

11.2 Enhanced Management Oversight 

11.3 Improved Maintenance Procedures 

A. Strict Compliance with Manufacturer’s Maintenance Program 

B. Helicopter-Specific Training for Mechanics 

C. Implementation of Health and Usage

Monitoring Systems 

11.4 Pilot Training and Flight Restrictions 

11.5 Mandatory Equipment 

A. Night Vision Goggles 

B. Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning System

C. Global Positioning System Technology

D. Multi-Engine Helicopters 

E. Flotation and Locator Devices 

F. Flight Data Recorder 

11.6 Enhanced FAA Regulatory Oversight 


Chapter 12: Mission-Specific Recommendations for Enhanced Safety 


12.1 Helicopter Touring Industry 

A. Greater Scrutiny and Monitoring of Tour

Operator Management and Maintenance


B. Enhanced Pilot Training and Experience

C. Pre-Determined Flight Path 

D. Independent Risk Assessment of Weather Conditions 

E. Dedicated Non-Pilot Tour Guide or Recorded Commentary 

F. Minimize Crowded Airspace 

G. Minimum Hover and Flight Distances 

12.2 News-Gathering Operations 

A. Eliminate Reporting Duties for Pilots of News-Gathering Helicopters 

B. Enhanced Visibility of Aircraft 

C. Enhanced Air and Ground Communications

Among News-Gathering Pilots 

12.3 Air Ambulance Services 

A. Implementation of Flight Risk Assessment


B. Installation of Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning System 

C. Mandatory Use of Night Vision Goggles 

D. Enhanced Pilot Training 

12.4 Utility Wire Inspection 

A. Advance Ground or Aerial Reconnaissance 

B. Separate Spotter or Observer 

C. Mandatory Attendance at Wire Strike

Avoidance Training 

D. Greater Use of Marker Devices on Utility


12.5 Search and Rescue Operations 

12.6 Law Enforcement and Border Patrol Usage 

12.7 Military Training Exercises 

12.8 Private Transportation 

12.9 Transport to Offshore Oil Platforms 

12.10 Fire-Fighting Operations 


Appendix A: Sample Pleadings in Helicopter Crash Cases 

A.1 Sample Complaint 1: Helicopter Engine Design (Nozzle Guide Vane Failure) 

A.2 Sample Complaint 2: Helicopter Mechanical

System Malfunction Due to Manufacturing Defect

(Tail Rotor System) 

A.3 Sample Complaint 3: Helicopter Pilot Error

(Wire Strike) 

A.4 Sample Complaint 4: Helicopter Mechanic

Negligence (Failure to Properly Install and Secure

Connection Hardware for Fore/Aft Servo Assembly) 

A.5 Sample Complaint 5: Helicopter Defective Fuel Tank (Failure to Equip with Crash Resistant Fuel System) 

A.6 Sample First Set of Interrogatories: Helicopter

Engine Failure/Design Defect 

A.7 Sample First Set of Interrogatories: Helicopter Component Part Manufacturer 

A.8 Sample First Set of Interrogatories: Helicopter

Pilot Error 

A.9 Sample First Set of Interrogatories: Helicopter

Mechanic Negligence 

A.10 Sample First Set of Interrogatories: Helicopter

Defective Fuel Tank 

A.11 Sample First Request for Production of

Documents: Helicopter Engine Failure/Design Defect 

A.12 Sample First Request for Production of Documents: Helicopter Component Part Manufacturer 

A.13 Sample First Request for Production of Documents: Helicopter Pilot Error

A.14 Sample First Request for Production of 

Documents:  Helicopter Mechanic Negligence 

A.15 Sample First Request for Production of 

Documents:  Helicopter Defective Fuel Tank ___

A.16 Sample Plaintiff’s Brief in Opposition to

Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Based on GARA 

Appendix B: Significant Helicopter Crash Case Decisions 

Explanatory Note 

B.1 Barnett v. La Societe Anonyme Turbomeca France (1998) 

B.2 Boyle v. United Technologies Corporation (1988) 

B.3 Ford Motor Company v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court (2021) 

B.4 Four Corners Helicopters, Inc. v. Turbomeca, S.A. (1992) 

B.5 Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall (1984) 

B.6 Letz v. Turbomeca Engine Corporation (1997) 

B.7 Riggs v. Airbus Helicopters, Inc. (2020) 

B.8 Sikkelee v. Precision Airmotive Corporation (2020). 

Table of Cases and Statutes 



Customer Reviews

Based on 3 reviews
International Press Publication Inc.
Helicopter Crash Litigation: Second Edition

"This book is an essential volume for any lawyer litigating a helicopter crash case These unique cases require a different approach and techniques, which you will learn from accomplished trial lawyer Gary Robb, who has used these same techniques in a brilliant career as a trial lawyer."

Justin T. Turner
American Association for Justice

Aviation lawyer Gary Robbs book Helicopter Crash Litigation is engaging, informative, and useful. Anyone new to helicopter cases should start by reading it cover to cover, rather than simply consulting it for reference. But it is also a valuable practical manual for more seasoned litigators. The book is divided into two parts. Part I provides a basic introduction to topics such as helicopter aerodynamics. The fields and subfields discussed can take years of study to master, but the book provides an attorney without technical helicopter expertise an introduction to major concepts. In fact, the book covers many of the same basics that helicopter pilots learn in initial training. An attorney without a helicopter background may know instinctively that hovering in the deadmans curve is probably not a good idea, but after reading the book, he or she will know what the deadmans curve is and why it is significant. (Im not giving it away; pick up the book and study page 13.) For attorneys new to helicopter litigation, the book provides: The technical information needed to understand helicopters and common causes of crashes. A unique and thoughtful analysis of case evaluation. Taking the wrong case can be a costly mistake. A lawyer cannot help the victims of a helicopter crash if there is no liability or if the fault lies with a judgment-proof defendant. Simply investigating a potential helicopter case costs many thousands of dollars, and bringing one to trial may cost hundreds of thousands more, so buying the book and getting the authors advice on how to evaluate potential cases is a sound investment. Practical and reliable examples of virtually every document you need to prosecute a helicopter case, from evidence preservation letters to opposition briefs to important motions. In an appendix, Robb opens his files to the reader, providing pleadings used successfully in his own practice. A discussion of the most common issues and procedural complexities in this nationaland sometimes internationalpractice area. For the experienced helicopter trial attorney, too, the book is worth its cost. Part II tracks the life of a lawsuit, from pre-filing steps through trial. The author has a gift for explaining complex legal strategies and points of law matter-of-factly. The book provides commonsense advice and examples of many specific issues lawyers are likely to encounter. Robb includes detailed information about his own cases. No matter how experienced you are, you will benefit from reading how he approached cases, questioned witnesses, and built winning trial strategies. Robb breaks down the intricacies of this litigation, giving the experienced aviation litigator tools for communicating with judges and jurors who have no background in helicopters or aviation law. The book is a must-have for any law firm with a sizable aviation practice, and it should be in the library of any law school that offers a class in aviation law or publishes a journal devoted to transportation law. It contains a reader-friendly table of contents and a well-designed index, so it is easy to find the information you are looking forand when you find it, the information is helpful. But don't be fooled by the title. The book's scope extends beyond the topic of helicopter litigation. Anyone interested in reading about the craft of a successful trial lawyer would be well served by reading it. Reviewed by Justin T. Green, a partner at Kreindler & Kreindler in New York City and a former Marine Corps attack helicopter pilot.

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Book News

A prominent helicopter crash trial attorney based in Kansas City, Robb has collected some of his prior aviation-related articles and speeches to incorporate into a manual on the features peculiar to representing plaintiffs of helicopter crash cases. His overall themes are the basics of helicopter structure, operation, and performance; the basics of helicopter; crash litigation; and safety recommendations for the helicopter industry. Among specific topics are common crash sequence and impact scenarios, filing the helicopter crash lawsuit, discovery and case development, common evidentiary issues, damages, trial, and mission-specific recommendations for enhanced safety.

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