On 22 September 2009 a Schweizer 269C-1 helicopter took off from Blackpool Airport on a training flight. The US-manufactured helicopter carrying the instructor and student was seen performing manoeuvres before a distress call was received at 12:10pm. The helicopter was then seen flying very low over the Poulton-le-Fylde area before it crashed in Barnaby Sands nature reserve, killing an instructor and a student.

Our Aviation team represents the families of the instructor and student. The AAIB has published an accident report in which they were unable to identify the exact cause of the fatal crash. 

The Irwin Mitchell aviation team acted as counsel for the families at the inquest; and the jury decided a verdict that the cause of the accident was loss of engine power, not pilot error. This inquest is also an example of how the involvement of our Aviation team can assist in improving helicopter flight safety. 

At the conclusion of the inquest the coroner made recommendations to the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the European Air Safety Agency (EASA) and the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) that they require Schweizer Aircraft Corporation to make amendments to the Schweizer Flight Manual. 

The case is now filed in Philadelphia, USA, against the aircraft and engine manufacturers. After 18 months of legal arguments, the Irwin Mitchell team defeated the defendants’ motion to have the case sent back to England. The defendants now face an American jury trial.

If you would like to speak in confidence to an expert regarding this accident, or any other aviation incident you were involved in, please contact a member of the aviation team on 0800 056 4110. The team will be able to advise you on the accident, the relevant law and the parties who may be liable.

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