The brave men and women in our Armed Forces depend on high tech aircraft to help protect and defend our country. Servicemen and women risk their lives every day as they operate within complex environments, however, that risk should not include mechanical failures that result from design or manufacturing defects or aircraft maintenance negligence performed by civilian contractors. Unfortunately, defective products in planes and helicopters too often lead to serious military aircraft crashes that result in death and injuries.
Every year, too many members of the U.S. military are killed in a helicopter or military plane crash due to faulty manufacturing, design flaws, or maintenance negligence that could have been prevented.
Legal Rights after a Military Plane Crash or Military Helicopter Crash
Servicemen and women injured in military aircraft crashes often feel that they have limited legal options. The law, known as the Feres Doctrine, does not allow those who serve in the Armed Forces or their surviving family members to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Government if the service member is killed or injured in or by a military aircraft crash.
Fortunately, there are important exceptions that allow a service member, or his family, to seek just compensation if he or she is killed or injured by a defective product used in both civilian and military aircraft, or negligence that is external to the government. For example, a lawsuit may be filed against an aircraft manufacturer or civilian maintenance facility alleging negligence if a military plane crash or helicopter crash is caused by a faulty product or negligent maintenance.
A military aviation lawsuit might also be filed if a crash was caused in part by civilians who were negligent in performing maintenance on military aircraft or components, or if a crash was caused by negligent civilian air traffic controllers.
Legal Rights of Civilians Injured in Military Aircraft Crashes
Civilians killed or injured as a result of military aircraft crashes may sue the military by suing the U.S. government for negligence. While these types of helicopter and plane accidents are rare, there are times when a military aircraft crashes into a home or comes into contact with civil aviation in a devastating way. For example, on July 7, 2015, an F16 fighter jet collided with a Cessna in South Carolina, killing two people aboard the small plane. According to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the pilot of the fighter jet was warned by air traffic controllers of the Cessna’s presence and ordered to take evasive action prior to the mid-air collision.
Baum Hedlund Handles Military Aircraft Crashes Across the Globe
The law firm of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman handles military aircraft crashes across the United States and in foreign countries where the case involves an American aircraft or parts manufacturer. We will consider and evaluate the case of anyone hurt in a military plane crash or military helicopter crash including:
- Members of our Armed Forces against aircraft and parts manufacturers and civilian maintenance facilities.
- Civilians killed or injured in military aircraft crashes.
Examples of Baum Hedlund’s Military Aircraft Crash Cases
April 17, 2017 – Sikorsky Black Hawk Helicopter crash in Leonardtown, Maryland: Our firm currently represents the family of an Army soldier who was killed and two other soldiers that suffered permanent injuries from a crash involving a Sikorsky Black Hawk UH-60L military helicopter in 2017. While the soldiers were en route to an Army airfield to perform a standard assault training flight, the tail rotor gearbox separated from the helicopter resulting in a complete loss of control. Subsequently, the chopper struck a tree before crashing to the ground of a Leonardtown, Maryland golf course.
July 10, 2017 – Marine Corps KC-130T plane crash in Leflore County, Mississippi: We are honored to represent the family members of 10 of the brave service members who died in this tragedy.
A Marine Corps KC-130T plane experienced a catastrophic mechanical failure at cruise altitude and crashed in a soybean field between the cities of Itta Bena and Moorhead. Fifteen Marines and one Navy Corpsman were killed in the crash. There were no survivors.
The crash was the deadliest aviation disaster the Marine Corps has experienced in over 10 years.
“The KC-130 Hercules has long been considered a workhorse of the Marine Corps, used for refueling of other aircraft, as well as transporting personnel and equipment,” says aviation attorney Timothy A. Loranger, who is representing family members of victims who perished in the crash. “While these aircraft are traditionally thought of as being reliable, many who work on them and fly them know that they can, at times, be temperamental.”
Before he became an attorney, Loranger served in the Marine Corps and worked as an aircraft mechanic specializing in RF-4b, F/A-18, and C-130 aircraft at both the squadron and intermediate maintenance levels.
March 16, 2013 – Kiowa Warrior OH-58D Military Helicopter Crash, Kandahar, Afghanistan: We represented the families of two Army servicemen in a lawsuit against the engine parts manufacturers of a military helicopter that crashed outside of Kandahar, Afghanistan. The military helicopter crash killed one pilot and left the other with severe disabilities.
An investigation into the 2013 accident found that the helicopter’s engine control unit (ECU) contained in the EMC-35 FADEC (Full Authority Digital Electronic Control) and its component parts failed. FADEC is a digital computer that controls fuel to a turbine engine. The part failure led to a significant reduction of fuel flow to the engine, which caused the main rotor to spin too slowly to stay airborne. The FADEC is used interchangeably in civil and military aircraft.
The lawsuit alleged that the defendants’ design and manufacture of the ECU contained in the EMC-35 FADEC was defective and unreasonably dangerous. The defendants (Triumph Group, Inc., Goodrich Pump and Engine Control Systems Inc.) were allegedly aware of the ECU’s flaws, but failed to raise the alarm about the potential for failure.
August 8, 2011 — AH-6M “Little Bird” Military Helicopter Crash, Fort Benning, Georgia: We filed a lawsuit on behalf of the family of Steven Redd, a decorated combat veteran who was killed in an AH-6M “Little Bird” military helicopter crash in Georgia. The lawsuit claims that the helicopter experienced a failure of its Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC).
Chief Warrant Officer Steven Redd and Captain David Hortman were flying the AH-6M helicopter in a routine training exercise at Ft. Benning, Georgia in August of 2011 when components of the Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) system failed, according to the lawsuit. Even after the pilots performed the prescribed emergency procedures, neither were able to regain control of the aircraft, which hit the tops of some trees before impacting with the ground.
Through manufacturing flaws and quality assurance failures, the lawsuit claims that the defendants (Goodrich Corporation, Goodrich Pump and Engine Controls, Rolls-Royce of North America, Inc., Allison Engine Company, Boeing Company and MD Helicopters) allegedly provided an unreliable and defectively manufactured helicopter, engine, fuel control system, and other flight system components, which resulted in the military helicopter crash that killed both Hortman and Redd.
December 12, 1985 Arrow Air Flight 1285 Military Plane Crash, Newfoundland, Canada: A McDonnell Douglas DC-8-63CF jetliner operating as Arrow Air Flight 1285 and chartered by the Army to carry 248 soldiers from Sinai in Cairo to their home base in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, crashed hear Gander Airport in Newfoundland, Canada.
Baum Hedlund represented the families of three soldiers killed in the military plane crash.
Timothy A. Loranger, Military Aviation Attorney