Robinson Helicopter to Investigate San Pedro Crash

Robinson Helicopter to Investigate San Pedro Crash

January 13, 2017 | Aviation Accidents

Robinson Helicopters Company and Lycoming Engines are Participating in the NTSB Investigation of the fateful Sunset Helicopter Crash that took the life of LA Photographer Michael Justice and Pilot Christopher Reed

On January 12, 2017, the National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report on the tragic January 4, 2017 sunset crash off the coast of San Pedro in Los Angeles County, California that took the lives of Michael Justice and Christopher Reed.

Of note, “[t]he operator reported that the purpose of the flight was to take aerial photos of several cruise ships in a nearby harbor. The helicopter departed from the operator’s ramp area, and proceeded to the harbor. It made several orbits around a ship, and then witnesses reported that the helicopter began spinning as it went straight down into the water” (emphasis added). This bolded statement is highly suggestive that piloting was not a casual factor in this helicopter crash.

The NTSB Investigator in Charge “IIC” is Howard D. Plagens.

Additional participating persons are:

  • Ben Harris, Federal Aviation Administration;
  • Thom Webster, Robinson Helicopter Company; and
  • Mark Platt, Lycoming Engines.

The names in red above are party representatives from two companies—Robinson Helicopters Company and Lycoming Engines—that could be defendants in any subsequent wrongful death lawsuit. The helicopter involved, Robinson R22 BETA, N702JJ, owned by JJ Helicopters, Inc., was manufactured in 2005 and the airworthiness date of the Lycoming engine is 3/9/2005. (Source)

A so called “Tort Reform,” the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994, created an 18-year statute of repose for general aviation manufacturers. This helicopter was at most 12 years old, so neither Robinson nor Lycoming are protected from litigation. Both Robinson and Lycoming know this. The victims’ families should have their own party representative involved as early as possible. The manufacturing representatives will seek to protect themselves from liability and help steer the NTSB. These families deserve their own eyes and ears working now as well.

Tragically, pilots and passengers and/or their families can encounter unjust legal hurdles when seeking justice after a crash or fatal event.  There are many legal options.


At Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, our aviation attorneys leave no stone un-turned when finding liability and seeking maximum compensation for the injured persons and family members we represent. Please contact Hunter Shkolnik for more information.


Photo Credit: (Kathyrn’s Report)


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CATEGORY: Aviation Accidents

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