Sat, Aug 28, 2010
Plaintiffs Seeking Nearly $27 Million In Damages
A lawsuit filed in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland is
seeking nearly $27 million in damages from Sikorsky, which has been
charged with "reckless behavior and willful misconduct" following
an accident off the Canadian coast which killed 17 people.
The accident occurred when the Sikorsky S-92 lost oil pressure
in its main gearbox and went down in the Atlantic 11 minutes later.
The suit, filed by Cougar Helicopters which operated the flight and
8 insurance companies led by Lloyd's of London, claims that
Sikorsky used analysis that was "flawed" when it certified that the
aircraft could fly 30 minutes with a dry gearbox. The claim holds
that “By promoting and advertising the S-92 as having a
‘30-minute run-dry' capacity, Sikorsky fraudulently
misrepresented to buyers and operators the airworthiness and flight
safety of the S-92."
The Toronto Globe and Mail reports that the suit also names the
Canadian Transport Minister and Sikorsky's parts and repair
division Helicopter Support Inc.
The FAA issued an
emergency AD shortly after the accident occurred. ANN reported in November, 2009 that the
gearbox had failed a dry test during the S-92 certification
process, but that aircraft was certified after a manual bypass
valve was installed that would divert oil to the gearbox in the
event of a catastrophic leak. The bypass must be activated by the
pilot. A second aircraft was tested with the bypass installed and
activated, and the system performed well. The gearbox did not fail
after several hours of testing.
The Canadian investigation centered on titanium studs which hold
the oil filter bowl on the aircraft's main gearbox. The suit
contends that Sikorsky knew the studs were susceptible to "fatigue,
cracking, and failure" after an S-92 made an emergency landing in
Australia in 2008. Sikorsky did issue a service bulletin prior to
the Cougar crash, but it did not require the immediate replacement
of the titanium studs with steel parts. Transport Canada determined
that the titanium studs had broken on the accident aircraft, which
caused the oil leak
Sources say it is unusual for the government to be the target of
such a lawsuit for failing to meet certification standards, and
that it is even more unlikely for such a case to go to trial.
Neither Sikorsky or the Canadian government was willing to comment
on the pending litigation. Sikorsky has reportedly filed paperwork
seeking to have the lawsuit moved to a U.S. court. The Canadian
Transportation Board still has the accident under
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