Fatal Bell 212 accident in 2021 results in $10M settlement

Fatal Bell 212 accident in 2021 results in $10M settlement

24-Jan-2023 Source: Slack Davis Sanger

Ladd Sanger, Dallas aviation partner with Slack Davis Sanger, and Joe Fiorante, partner at the Law Offices of Camp, Fiorante, Matthews and Mogerman, in Vancouver, British Columbia, recently obtained a $10 million settlement for the family of a 49-year-old helicopter pilot employed by Yellowhead Helicopters, Ltd, who was killed in 2021 while conducting forest fire operations in Alberta, Canada.

The fatal Bell 212 helicopter crash occurred when a critical part failed during flight. A pin with only 20 hours of service failed, initiating a catastrophic separation of the helicopter’s rotor blades and the main rotor head. The pin, manufactured by Fore Aero and its related entities in Haltom City, Texas, was not made using the proper material required by the manufacturer’s engineering specifications.  After the crash, The Federal Aviation Administration and Transport Canada jointly grounded the entire fleet of Bell 212, 204B, and 205 helicopters until they were inspected, and the defective pins were removed and replaced. In all about 400 aircraft were affected by the grounding.

“A critical component was manufactured from steel that was weaker than that required by the specifications,” stated Sanger, a licensed helicopter pilot. “Because these pins were made from a weaker type of steel, the pin sheared under ordinary flight conditions resulting in the catastrophic failure of the main rotor assembly.” Sanger noted that a pin made from the proper material would have been able to sustain a shear force 300% greater than the pin which failed.

According to the accident investigation report, one of the main rotor blades separated from the rotor head assembly as the pilot was landing to pick up a group of firefighters. That caused the catastrophic sequence in which the other rotor blades and the entire main rotor head assembly rapidly separated from the helicopter causing it to crash. Investigators discovered that the main rotor hub strap retaining pin of the first blade assembly to fail was defective and initiated the fatal failure sequence.

“Our client was a very skilled pilot and had safely flown in far more dangerous conditions,” said Sanger. “The defective shear pin and the lack of quality control in the manufacturing process resulted in the death of a very experienced pilot and family member under routine flying conditions. This tragedy should have never happened.”

Since 1993, Slack Davis Sanger has been serving clients nationally and internationally, with a combined experience of more than 250 years. Slack Davis Sanger has extensive experience in litigation involving a diverse array of airplane, helicopter, and balloon accidents such as major airline disasters, sightseeing and tour flights, air ambulance operations, and charter flights. For more information or to speak with Mr. Sanger, please contact Marketing Manager Stephanie Eitrheim at Slack Davis Sanger at 512-225-5322.

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