Robinson Helicopter First Fatal R66 Crash

Share This Page

Colombian Families Hire Los Angeles Aviation Attorneys to Represent Them Against Robinson Helicopter Company in First Fatal R66 Crash

The aviation accident attorneys at Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman are representing the families of the two men killed in Robinson Helicopter Company's first R66 crash which occurred on July 12, 2011 near Flandes, Colombia.

Killed in the crash, was the owner of the R66 aircraft, Juan Pablo Gaviria, former president of the Colombian Civil Air Patrol, and Jose Ricardo Cabrera, his dear friend and a skilled helicopter pilot.

The R66 crashed shortly after take-off from Girardot Airport in Colombia. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) preliminary report, an eye witness reported hearing a cracking sound and seeing something break off the helicopter shortly before it plummeted to the ground. Initial data collected in the subsequent investigation by both the Government of Colombia and Baum Hedlund's investigation team strongly indicate that mechanical problems with the Robinson R66 helicopter caused the crash.

This crash was the first Robinson Helicopter Company R66 crash since the aircraft went into production in late 2010. The second fatal R66 accident occurred in South Dakota on October 1, 2011. The pilot and sole occupant of that R66 helicopter was killed, which according to an NTSB preliminary report, may have been caused by an in-flight breakup of the aircraft.

The R66 is the newest chopper in Robinson's fleet and was designed to be the first turbine-powered helicopter for the company. Robinson is known for its low cost aircraft but many safety experts are concerned that the company may be sacrificing quality for profit when manufacturing their popular helicopters.

"Robinson, in my opinion, continues to prioritize profit over passenger safety and it's a shame," said the families' aviation attorney and pilot Ronald Goldman. "It appears to me from our investigation, thus far, and the opinions of our experts, that this crash was caused by mechanical failure," Mr. Goldman stated.

The Investigation

Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman's aviation accident team is conducting an extensive investigation into the Colombia R66 helicopter crash. Their attorneys, along with experts, have visited the crash site in Colombia and have conducted an initial inspection of the wreckage, which has now been transported to the U.S. for further analysis.

The firm's experts in this case include metallurgists, a biomechanic, aviation engineers, a chemist, and a pilot. Their team is thoroughly examining the engine and other wreckage in order to determine whether design and mechanical defects are the cause of the crash and the untimely deaths of Mr. Gaviria and Mr. Cabrera.

This is Baum Hedlund's sixth investigation and case involving a Robinson Helicopter crash. In addition to the current R66 crash, the firm has handled two R22 crashes and three R44 crashes:

•· Central Illinois Air Corp., Robinson R44 II crash, Table Rock Lake, Missouri, 2008

•· Adventure Helicopter Tours, Robinson R44 II crash, Topanga Canyon, California, 2008

•· Classic Helicopter Corp., Robinson R44 II crash, near Easton, Washington, 2007

•· Blue Skies, Inc. instructional flight, Robinson R22 Beta crash, Rochester, Minnesota, 2004

•· Robinson R22, private helicopter crash, San Salvador, El Salvador, 2001

Baum Hedlund is preparing for a trial in Seattle starting March 5, 2012 in the Superior Court for King County against Robinson for the August 2, 2007 Robinson R44 II crash near Easton, Washington. The firm represents the family of Si Young Lee, a South Korean businessman who was surveying potential logging sites for lumber production.

The firm filed a lawsuit in the Lee case on October 20, 2009 alleging that shortly after departure, the R44 helicopter experienced a mechanical failure because of an R44 design flaw and then descended and experienced a low energy impact with the ground whereupon it erupted in a fire that burned for several days, destroying 485 acres. All four people aboard the helicopter burned to death.

The Victims

Juan Pablo Gaviria was a well respected pillar of his community. The father of three will be remembered for his generosity, deep passion for aviation and undeniable zest for life. Aviation was a passion from an early age, when Juan Pablo spent his time flying kites. He later went on to establish Colombia's first paragliding school. He was also a licensed pilot, who flew single engine and twin engine planes.

He was dedicated to helping others. He was very involved with the Colombian Civil Air Patrol, a non-profit group of doctors which provides free medical care to communities stricken by poverty. The Air Patrol was a cause very dear to his heart. Juan Pablo was a member of the group for 13 years, and served as its president from 2006 until March of 2011.

Juan Pablo Gaviria had recently purchased the doomed Robinson R66 helicopter in America and had hired Mr. Cabrera, a dear friend, as his pilot a few months before the crash.

Jose Ricardo Cabrera was a beloved husband, father and grandfather. Having moved his family to a beautiful expansive property in Cajicá, Colombia from the United States in 2009, Mr. Cabrera dedicated his life to his large and tight-knit family. He built a now wildly successful ice cream business, Helados San Jerónimo, which remains completely family run.

Jose Ricardo also owned Florida-based Dari Machining, Inc., an industrial equipment and machinery shop.

Mr. Cabrera was a certified commercial helicopter pilot who was very experienced.