Over $1 Billion in verdicts and recoveries
Handling Catastrophic Cases
Nationwide Since 1984
Call Us Toll-Free 1-800-474-1339
KANSAS CITY 816-474-8080
The New York Times - February 13, 2015

FAA Orders Inspections After Fatal Colorado Chopper Crash

The New York Times

DENVER – The Federal Aviation Administration has grounded more than 300 Enstrom helicopters nationwide until they can be inspected for possible cracks like the one that may have caused a crash last month that killed two people in Colorado.

In an emergency directive issued Thursday, the FAA said that the investigation into the Jan. 26 crash indicates that the helicopter’s rotor blade came off because of a crack in the spindle, which holds the rotor blade in place on top of the helicopter.

The crash, which involved a 30-year-old Enstrom 280FX, killed flight instructor Alex Viola, 23, of Arkansas City, Kansas and student pilot Amy Wood, 25, of Boulder. A witness told investigators that she saw it landing at what seemed to be a steep angle at the Erie Municipal Airport and that she heard a loud “pop” and then saw the rotor blades coming off.

The investigation into the Colorado crash is expected to take several more months to complete, but the FAA sometimes issues such emergency directives when it finds a condition that might affect the immediate safety of aircraft, agency spokesman Lynn Lunsford said.

The FAA order applies to 323 Enstrom helicopters in a range of models that are registered in the United States. Police and military in Thailand, Japan and Indonesia also use the same type of aircraft, according to Enstrom’s website.

The FAA says owners should not fly the helicopters until having an experienced agency inspector perform an X-ray-like test called a magnetic particle inspection to look for cracks in spindles that have 5,000 hours or more of use. If a crack is found, the FAA says it must be replaced before the helicopter is flown.

The FAA directive largely mirrors a service bulletin by Michigan-based Enstrom to its operators worldwide on Wednesday, although the company gave operators some leeway to fly aircraft to service centers in order to be inspected. While the company is taking the issue seriously, president Tracy Biegler said there’s no evidence cracks have been a problem on any other aircraft in the company’s 55 year history.

The lawyer for Viola’s family, Gary Robb of Kansas City, Missouri, said he plans to sue the company over the crack. He praised the FAA for acting so quickly to try to prevent further crashes.

“This is what this industry and what our regulatory authorities should be doing,” he said.

The two highest jury verdicts in the United States in helicoptor crash trials

The two largest pre-trial aviation settlements in U.S. History for a single injury in a helicopter crash


Robb & Robb Named as Cover "Super Lawyers" for 2007

The Bulldog & The Ballerina


The Golden Couple

How Two Former Defense Lawyers Became One of the Most Successful Plaintiffs’ Duos in the Country


Record $82M Recovery In Helicopter Crash Cases

Highest Amount Ever Collected in Death Suits


Litigator v. Helicopter

Attorney Gary Robb is by far the most successful helicopter-crash trial lawyer in the country.


Lawyer Becomes "Go-to-Guy" After Helicopter Crashes

The family of a Louisiana man killed in a helicopter crash.


Fight for the Justice You Deserve

We pride ourselves on being available when you need us. If you need to speak with us at any time, please do not hesitate to call or email us for assistance.



Call for a free consultation

Phone: 816-474-8080

Toll-Free: 1-800-474-1339



One Kansas City Place
Suite 3900
1200 Main Street
Kansas City, Missouri 64105