STAR-BULLETIN / 2007
The Inter-island Helicopter crash that killed a California man was the second fatal helicopter crash on Kauai in March 2007. The NTSB has said it was caused by a mechanical defect.
Mechanical flaw blamed in fatal helicopter crash
The defect in the tail rotor assembly caused the rotor to break off, an NTSB report says
HAENA, Kauai » A mechanical defect caused the fatal March 2007 Inter-island Helicopter crash near Tunnels Beach on the north shore, a National Transportation Safety Board report said.
The report, released on the NTSB Web site yesterday after approval by the safety board, said that the failure of a tail rotor fitting led to the tail rotor coming off the McDonnell Douglas 369FF.
The helicopter made a hard landing at YMCA Camp Naue after rotating over a number of houses in the area. One person — Michael Gershon, 60, of Walnut Creek, Calif., died — and three others were seriously injured.
According to the report, one of the fittings that connected the tail rotor to the helicopter was too tight, and fatigue eventually cracked the metal.
Pilot Donald Torres of Kauai was able to land the helicopter without the tail rotor, but he hit some trees on the way into the YMCA field, and the helicopter did not land on the skids, the report said.
After the inspection of the parts of the Inter-Island craft last year, McDonnell Helicopters put out a mandatory bulletin to remove the tail rotor and check the tail rotor hub for any fittings that are not smooth, the report added.
The defect was also found in two other helicopters in New Zealand.
Passengers Douglas and Judy Barton, both of Newport, N.H., settled their lawsuit last month with manufacturer Boeing Co. and parts maker Aluminum Precision Products.
The companies agreed to pay $9.5 million to the couple, who have racked up nearly a million dollars in medical bills. Judy Barton, 52, was paralyzed from the waist down. Her husband, 62, has suffered back injuries that prevent him from returning to work.
The Naue landing was the second fatal helicopter crash in a week on Kauai's north shore in March, 2007.
The NTSB has yet to release a probable cause report into the Heli-USA crash at Princeville Airport, which killed four people just three days prior to the Inter-Island crash.