On June 12, 2021, a Robinson R44 helicopter lost all power and crashed in Canterbury, New Zealand, leaving four people with serious injuries.
The Robinson helicopter crash occurred at approximately 3:05 p.m. local time as a female pilot flew newlyweds Fay El Hanafy and Mahdi Zougub, along with a wedding photographer, Rachel Jordan, to a remote mountain spot to take wedding photos.
Wyndon Aviation, the company that owns the downed chopper, told the media that the R44 suffered a total engine failure shortly after takeoff. The helicopter crashed onto a golf course fairway. A spokesman for Wyndon Aviation told the media that while the crash investigation is ongoing, it is clear that the R44 suffered a “total power loss shortly after takeoff.” He added: “Put simply, the engine stopped.”
Serious Injuries Reported in Canterbury, New Zealand Helicopter Crash
Fay El Hanafy was forced to undergo surgery after sustaining a broken back, foot, and fractures to both legs. Her new husband, Mahdi Zougub, also had to surgically repair a broken back.
Photographer Rachel Jordan reportedly sustained fractures to her spine, five broken ribs, a lung laceration, fractured sternum, a broken arm, and fractured feet. According to the New Zealand Herald, she called her husband, Eric, shortly after the helicopter went down. He could hear the screams of others on the chopper as they waited for emergency crews to arrive at the crash scene.
"She told me she recalls the engine had shut off at some point, that it completely lost power in mid-air, and it seemed like the whole thing went dead,” Eric said.
The female pilot also suffered significant injuries to her arm, leg, and back, including multiple broken bones and lacerations.
The NZ Herald published a story on July 3rd stating that the Canterbury wedding party R44 crash has raised concerns in New Zealand about Robinson's safety record. The paper reached out to Baum Hedlund aviation attorney and senior partner, Ronald Goldman, who has handled nearly two dozen Robinson helicopter crash cases in the US, Colombia, Brazil and Australia.
He said, "In our view, there is just an inordinate number of accidents involving Robinson helicopters. To us, it's a major concern that this helicopter poses a danger to the public that flies in them, particularly unwitting passengers – take this [Terrace Downs couple], they had no reason to know that this is a [type of] helicopter with a chequered history of safety. They are trusting souls and they get on board because they're going to have a good time and they wind up with catastrophic injuries. In my view, it's a dangerous machine. They've had a larger number of accidents than anybody else. And we need to understand why this is happening."
Dangers of Robinson R44 Helicopters
Robinson Helicopter Company has a checkered safety history. Data from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) shows that Robinson helicopters, including the R22, R44, and R66 models, have been involved in over 1,550 accidents or incidents worldwide. Those aviation incidents killed over 700 people and left many more with injuries.*
1002 Total Accidents
181 Fatal Accidents
532 Total Accidents
196 Fatal Accidents
37 Total Accidents
18 Fatal Accidents
Robinson helicopter accident statistics as of May 3, 2021
Aviation expert William Lawrence, a former helicopter combat and test pilot for the Marines, knows a thing or two about helicopter safety. Asked to give his opinion on Robinson Helicopter Company’s safety record for a court case, Mr. Lawrence said the company ignores safety issues.
“In my near half-century of aviation experience, RHC is the only aircraft manufacturer I have found in the world that does not focus on safety,” Lawrence wrote in his report filed with a lawsuit that followed a Robinson helicopter crash in New Jersey. “I believe RHC divests itself of all records in an attempt to have ‘plausible deniability’ related to responsibility.”
What Caused the Canterbury Robinson R44 Helicopter Crash?
Even though the cause of the crash appears to be engine failure resulting in complete power loss, it will take some time for investigators to complete a report on the Canterbury helicopter crash. Generally, helicopter crash investigations take at least a year or more to complete. Once the crash investigation is complete, the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand will issue a report and provide applicable safety recommendations.
Law Firm with Case Experience Against Robinson Helicopter Company
Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman helicopter crash lawyers have years of experience litigating cases for victims of Robinson R44 accidents. We know what it takes to win aviation cases against major helicopter companies, including Robinson Helicopter Company.
Board-certified trial attorney Ronald L. M. Goldman has successfully resolved numerous cases against Robinson stemming from accidents in the United States and abroad.
“Robinson, in my opinion, continues to prioritize profit over safety, at an unacceptable cost of human suffering.” – Attorney Ronald L. M. Goldman
If you are interested in speaking to an experienced helicopter crash attorney with a successful track record in cases against Robinson Helicopter Co., call the law firm of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman at 855-948-5098 for a free and confidential case evaluation.
*We have been calculating these statistics using the NTSB aviation database for years. Before the NTSB switched their data search tool over to its new Case Analysis and Reporting Online - or CAROL query system in October 2020, we had calculated the total incidents and crashes for Robinson aircraft. Since the switch to the CAROL system, the new database comes up short as it does not include aviation crashes before 2008. Therefore, we calculate the total number of Robinson helicopter crashes using the baseline from the previous NTSB database and add the new crashes since 2008 using the new CAROL query system.