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CHL S92 lawsuit

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CHL S92 lawsuit

Old 2nd Aug 2021, 16:13
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CHL S92 lawsuit

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-...form-1.6123804

Lawsuit filed by passengers on helicopter that came within 4 metres of crashing into ocean

Class action claims negligence by helicopter company in 2019 incident near Sable Island

Frances Willick · CBC News · Posted: Jul 30, 2021 4:04 PM AT | Last Updated: July 31This Sikorsky S-92A was involved in the near-crash close to Sable Island in 2019. (Transportation Safety Board)A New Glasgow, N.S., law firm has launched a class-action lawsuit after a helicopter went into freefall — twice — and came so close to crashing that a rotor blade struck the ocean when attempting to transport workers to an oil rig near Sable Island two years ago.

The class action, filed by MacGillivray Law, alleges Canadian Helicopters Limited, the company operating the Sikorsky S-92A, was negligent.
The suit claims damages for the suffering of the 11 passengers and their psychological injuries, including PTSD, as well as damages for loss of earning capacity and medical care and legal costs.The early part of the flight that departed Halifax Stanfield International Airport just before noon on July 24, 2019, was uneventful, even though visibility was poor that day due to fog.

The helicopter made two attempts to land at the helideck on the offshore rig, but both were aborted because the captain and first officer couldn't see the deck, rig or horizon.

It was on the third landing attempt, after the crew spotted the helideck — but still could not see the horizon or the water — that things went awry.

As the helicopter approached the landing platform, the nose of the aircraft was too high, the helicopter was banking to the right, was approaching at a slower speed than standard and was in an increasingly rapid descent. But the crew didn't notice these hazards because one of them had disengaged the autopilot features that would have alerted them.

Vortex ring state

Although one of the crew eventually checked the dashboard and saw that the nose was too high, they still didn't notice the rapid descent or the slow speed of travel — conditions that are perfect for a helicopter entering what's called a vortex ring state. That is when the air patterns around a helicopter change and the rotor can't keep the aircraft aloft and it begins to drop uncontrollably.

That's what happened.

"The helicopter was in an out-of-control tailspin dropping toward the ocean surface," the court document says. "This was all readily apparent to the class members, who were terrified and bracing themselves for a crash into the ocean surface."

At one point, the helicopter, which was by then dropping at a rate of nine metres per second, came very close to crashing into the offshore rig.
The Thebaud complex, an offshore drilling platform, is seen in this image annotated by the Tranportation Safety Board of Canada report noting the landing platform. (Transportation Safety Board)Now 30 metres above the water, the monitoring pilot put his hands and feet on the controls to brace himself and try to help the flying pilot level the aircraft before the expected impact with the ocean.

Now 20 metres above the water, the passengers "felt the helicopter shake and yaw severely to the right," and "the screens and systems all went blank and alarms engaged."

"At the point of near impact, the engines were throttled beyond limit, extremely loud, torqued at well over capacity," the statement of claim reads. "The class members could hear the engines screaming as ocean water sprayed all over the windows.… The class members thought the helicopter was crashing into the ocean surface at high speed and that they were going to die."

Robert Kenney, the representative plaintiff in the legal action, said: "If you can imagine your life passing before your eyes, everything was going crazy. Everybody on the chopper, there was a lot of screaming and hollering."

Another passenger, Donald Shupe, said the drop to the water felt like it happened in seconds.

"We went sideways and I smashed my head on the window and next thing you know I was looking at water," he said. "I looked at everybody else and I said, 'This must be our day.' … I was vibrating inside because I didn't think we were actually going to pull out of this. I honestly thought this was it."

Last-second reprieve

All of a sudden, according to the statement of claim, "in the last small fraction of a second," because of the extremely high torque and the aircraft being banked so far to the right, the helicopter came out of the vortex ring state.

"The helicopter stopped its drop at most just a couple of feet above the ocean surface as the landing gear and bottom made actual contact," the court document says. "The class members observed the end of the main propeller blade strike the ocean surface."

The pilot then flew the helicopter, which was still in a tailspin, straight up to an altitude of about 411 metres as the crew continued to try to stabilize it.

Then, the aircraft began falling again, out of control, and flew over Sable Island in this way until the pilot was able to regain control.

Passengers traumatized

The return trip to Halifax was "rough and noisy," says the statement of claim.

"The class members were already in a state of extreme mental and physiological stress. The class members remained in a heightened state of arousal the entire flight back given the manner in which the helicopter was flying, noisily and jarringly, at a low altitude, with systems down and on autopilot."

Kenney said he's been diagnosed with PTSD because of the incident, and he's not able to concentrate as well as he could in the past.

"Seems like I'm always lost in space," said Kenney, who lives in Sheet Harbour, N.S. "I used to always be like a trivia champion … and now as soon as somebody asks me a question, point blank, my mind is gone."
Robert Kenney is the representative plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against Canadian Helicopters Limited. (Submitted by Robert Kenney)Although Kenney did go offshore on two occasions since then, he recently turned down a job offer in the industry because he is too anxious about flying. He said he now has to work many more hours at his job on land to make up for the wages he's lost, which has affected his lifestyle and family.

Shupe, of Triton, N.L., said he went back to work about a year after the incident, but was then laid off.

He also said he lives with the memories of that day, and has nightmares about helicopter crashes.

"I am not the same person today as I was two years ago. And I know if I don't have professional help, God forbid I don't know what's going to happen."

Transportation Safety Board report

The lawsuit alleges the company allowed recordings of conversations between the two pilots to be destroyed before they could be heard by investigators.

An investigation by the Transport Safety Board of Canada found that the helicopter, which was removed from service after the incident, stopped just four metres above the water.

The report also found that the company's operating procedures did not give flight crew enough guidance to ensure that their landing approaches were within industry-recommended standards, and did not warn of the hazards of overriding autopilot in poor visibility.
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Old 3rd Aug 2021, 06:18
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Excellent - trying to sue them for not having an accident
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Old 3rd Aug 2021, 10:33
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Good to see they hired some Hollywood 'straight to cable' screenwriters to prepare the case!
Interesting to note too.....

Use of investigation reports and related materials in legal, disciplinary or other proceedings

The Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act states the following:
  • 7(3) No finding of the Board shall be construed as assigning fault or determining civil or criminal liability.
  • 7(4) The findings of the Board are not binding on the parties to any legal, disciplinary or other proceedings.
Therefore, the TSB’s investigations, the resulting reports, and related materials are not created for use in the context of legal, disciplinary or other proceedings.
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Old 3rd Aug 2021, 12:44
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Vortex ring state - the three magic words for winning any helicopter argument.

The high number of alleged assertions are incredible, you'd think they were actually flying the thing.
Last time I got into a tailspin was in a Bellanca Decathlon 8KCAB, fortunately "the main propeller" didn't touch any water as it was strictly VFR.
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Old 3rd Aug 2021, 14:09
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Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Excellent - trying to sue them for not having an accident
Seems now we can add "damn near crashed" to horseshoes and hand grenades to close but no cigar in our use of language.

As this suit if allowed to proceed by the Judge....shall. hinge upon the definition of Negligence under the law.

Shall the Jury be able to determine the fine line between just screwing it up....and screwing it up because you were just not doing it right?
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Old 3rd Aug 2021, 14:31
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Originally Posted by cattletruck View Post
Vortex ring state - the three magic words for winning any helicopter argument.

The high number of alleged assertions are incredible, you'd think they were actually flying the thing.
Last time I got into a tailspin was in a Bellanca Decathlon 8KCAB, fortunately "the main propeller" didn't touch any water as it was strictly VFR.
Ahh, but you were probably looking at your 'dashboard', unlike these guys "allegedly"......
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Old 3rd Aug 2021, 15:11
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Originally Posted by 212man View Post
Ahh, but you were probably looking at your 'dashboard', unlike these guys "allegedly"......
Yes but clearly all the screens went blank, so the pilots wouldn’t have seen the big yellow flashing VRS caution that comes up in these situations.

Incredible that in this moment of panic some passengers clearly had the wherewithal to have a cheeky nose into the cockpit and could immediately ascertain many parameters.
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Old 3rd Aug 2021, 15:53
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We should not minimize the terror that the passengers undoubtedly experienced as the helicopter commenced its wild gyrations. They all knew that what was happening wasn't normal and that they were indeed "this close" to meeting their Maker. And if we pilots are being honest, had *we* been sitting in the back, we would have been terrified too.

But you have to at least chuckle at some of the wording in the story. For instance...

"The class members were already in a state of extreme mental and physiological stress."

Physiological? Did they poop their pants? I probably would have!

"The class members remained in a heightened state of arousal the entire flight back given the manner in which the helicopter was flying, noisily and jarringly, at a low altitude, with systems down and on autopilot."

Yeah, that used to happen to me sometimes on the school bus back in junior high. Not that I ever would have admitted it. It's why I wore my shirts untucked all through my teenage years. Oh, those tight trousers - damn those Beatles!


"Kenney said he's been diagnosed with PTSD because of the incident, and he's not able to concentrate as well as he could in the past."

I get that too. Happens to all of us as we get older. Hmm, maybe I could blame it on some traumatic event I had in the past?
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Old 3rd Aug 2021, 18:18
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The previous four contributors have clearly qualified themselves for the jury.
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Old 4th Aug 2021, 03:10
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Originally Posted by JohnDixson View Post
The previous four contributors have clearly qualified themselves for the jury.
Very well said, John. Having flown 61's and 214ST's in that same area I totally agree.

During a rare (on the Canadian East Coast) night approach KP and I nearly put a 214ST in the water within 10 nm of this incident doing pretty much the same thing - nose up, decreasing airspeed, increasing sink rate. Our downwash hit the water before we got it sorted out.
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Old 4th Aug 2021, 08:35
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If they applied full left boot with all that collective you could argue this was a successful application of the Vuichard recovery!
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Old 4th Aug 2021, 08:57
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I knew someone would say "I thought I was going to die!" PTSD all round I guess!
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Old 4th Aug 2021, 16:20
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Originally Posted by JohnDixson View Post
The previous four contributors have clearly qualified themselves for the jury.
And yet this matter should never make it in front on a jury.

To be tried in a court where prosecution will sensationalise events for the financial gain of their clients over an event which hasn’t ended tragically, but has been the result of genuine human error, not negligence.

As Old Dogs has said, they themselves have suffered a similar incident, and hasn’t mentioned that they were brought in front of a civil court.

Where is the line drawn? Some would say coming so close to the water is definitely a life changing and stress-inducing event. But what if they recovered at 100ft? Still warrant a civil suit? What about a go around?

Civil prosecution for personal or financial gain undermines the just safety culture, reporting and investigatory systems that are in place.
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Old 4th Aug 2021, 20:40
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TS, you opened the door to some naughty minds here!
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Old 5th Aug 2021, 00:02
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I think I got a touch of PTSD just reading about it, can I join the class action?
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Old 5th Aug 2021, 02:14
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I just can't see what's wrong with a rotor blade touching the sea? In the 80s, we used to regularly give all the blades a quick dip during a shuttle flights to give them a wash. It improved performance taking off from undersized bow mounted low helidecks at night meaning we could ask for additional doughnuts and ice cream. If the "too heavy" light illuminated on the dashboard, we used to stick some blue tack over it to stop it becoming annoying.

What's wrong with today's passengers? They are going soft. I thought Canadians wore big boy pants.

I have been called as an expert witness.

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Old 5th Aug 2021, 05:39
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[QUOTE=industry insider;11089934]....I thought Canadians wore big boy pants./QUOTE]

Not according to Monty Python
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Old 5th Aug 2021, 07:13
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Originally Posted by industry insider View Post
I just can't see what's wrong with a rotor blade touching the sea? In the 80s, we used to regularly give all the blades a quick dip during a shuttle flights to give them a wash. It improved performance taking off from undersized bow mounted low helidecks at night meaning we could ask for additional doughnuts and ice cream. If the "too heavy" light illuminated on the dashboard, we used to stick some blue tack over it to stop it becoming annoying.

What's wrong with today's passengers? They are going soft. I thought Canadians wore big boy pants.

I have been called as an expert witness.
https://www.bst-tsb.gc.ca/eng/rappor.../a19a0055.html

According to the actual report, the is no evidence of the blade ever having touched the water, so that statement by passengers is simply conjecture. Likewise I can’t imagine one of the huge blades on an S92 making contact with water without ripping itself to pieces.

As 212man posted earlier:

Use in legal, disciplinary or other proceedings
The Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act states the following:
 7(3) No finding of the Board shall be construed as assigning fault or determining civil or criminal liability.
 7(4) The findings of the Board are not binding on the parties to any legal, disciplinary or other proceedings.
Therefore, the TSB’s investigations and the resulting reports are not created for use in the context of legal, disciplinary or other proceedings.
Notify the TSB in writing if this investigation report is being used or might be used in such proceedings.

So this begs the question, are they using information from the report? The Prosecution certainly mentions the screens going blank, something I highly doubt any passenger would have noticed during the incident and is only a result of the generators dropping offline.

And if they’re not using information from the report because they can’t then it’s all witness statement with no corroborating evidence.

I’m sure the experience was scary for the passengers, but I was a passenger in a fixed wing years ago that hit the runway hard in a storm and damaged the gear before going around and diverting. Can I file a class action lawsuit for that?
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Old 5th Aug 2021, 09:55
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torqueshow

According to the actual report, the is no evidence of the blade ever having touched the water, so that statement by passengers is simply conjecture. Likewise I can’t imagine one of the huge blades on an S92 making contact with water without ripping itself to pieces.
Really?
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Old 5th Aug 2021, 10:02
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Originally Posted by industry insider View Post
torqueshow



Really?
Which bit? The report does not mention the blade contacting the water at any point, not does it mention any further damage to the aircraft.

The second part of the sentence, there’s plenty of footage online of blades hitting water and it not ending well at all. Considering they were banked over, a blade tip entering the water would be a catastrophic event.

The only mention of the blade contacting the water is from a passenger witness statement and there’s no other corroborating evidence to support that. Witness statements historically are pretty inaccurate as people tend to have poor detail memory from a stressful event.
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