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Robinson Helicopter Company: The Deadliest Helicopter Manufacturer in the World

Posted on in Aviation Litigation

Chicago helicopter injury attorneyRobinson Helicopter Company opened shop in 1973. Its business model: mass-produce simple, low-cost helicopters and sell them to the civilian public at an affordable price.

From a numbers standpoint, it worked.

Robinson released its first model, the R22, in the late 1970s, and it released the R44 in 1993. Both models dominated the competition and became the best-selling civilian helicopters of their time. The R44 retains that title to this day, partly due to its being one of the cheapest helicopters on the market.

But cheap mass-production comes at a cost. On top of being the best-selling civilian helicopter in the world, the R44 is also the most lethal.

Between 2006 and 2016, Robinson R44s alone were involved in 42 deadly helicopter crashes. That is an average of 1.6 deadly crashes per 100,000 hours flown, a rate nearly 50% higher than that of the other dozen most common civilian models.

From improper fuel-tank placement, to mast-bumping (where the helicopter blades see-saw to the point of hitting the aircraft), to mast-rocking (inexplicable, violent vibrations in the middle of the flight that cause a crash), the Robinson Helicopter Company has found itself under FAA scrutiny numerous times for the R44’s fatal defects.

And if we branch out from the R44 model, the statistics are even worse. Of the 13,000 helicopters Robinson has sold, 1,200 have crashed. Since 1982, 600 people have died in Robinson helicopter crashes.

But Robinson continues to mass-produce nonetheless, and it does so without having to make many changes to its flawed helicopters.

No doubt, Robinson’s flippant record-keeping practices play a role in its ability to continue to avoid any real ramifications for its manufacturing and design practices. Unlike almost any other aviation company, Robinson does not analyze the findings of crashes to determine the causes of accident. It does not have established safety programs. It does not retain records related to helicopter accidents or other types of incidents. It doesn’t even keep track of statistical data to address recurring problems or determine the numbers of people who have been injured or killed.

Expert aviation consultants find this shocking, and they have been quoted saying they believe Robinson Helicopter Company engages in these shoddy record-keeping practices with the specific intent to “divest itself of all records in an attempt to have ‘plausible deniability’ related to responsibility.”

Predictably, as Robinson continues to operate in this manner, tragedy continues to strike. 

On October 23, 2019, a Robinson R44 crashed after departing from the North Las Vegas Airport. Tragically, those who were in the helicopter now fall among the nearly 600 people that have died in Robinson helicopter crashes since 1982. The passenger leaves behind a widow seeking justice for what was a preventable death.

Tim Tomasik, Tomasik Kotin Kasserman co-founder and partner, proudly represents the widow of the passenger that died in the October 23 helicopter crash, and he is committed to the vigilant pursuit of justice against the Robinson Helicopter Company.  

If you or a member of your family have suffered injuries or wrongful death in a Robinson helicopter crash or another type of aviation accident, our lawyers can work with you to identify the liable parties and pursue financial compensation. We have a record of success in cases involving aviation disasters and injuries related to planes and helicopters. Attorney Tim Tomasik is a national leader in litigation involving mass disasters and transportation injuries. Call our Chicago aviation injury lawyers today at 312-605-8800 to arrange a free consultation.

Sources:

https://www.latimes.com/projects/la-me-robinson-helicopters

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