By: The Barnes Firm - April 28, 2022
Elba, NY – Mercy Flight Pilot James Sauer, 60, and Bell Helicopter flight instructor/pilot Stewart M. Dietrick, 60, both died when a Bell 429 Mercy Flight Helicopter crashed during a training mission around 1 p.m. on Tuesday, April 26, 2022. The crash occurred off Norton Road in the town of Elba.
The helicopter had been flying for about 2 hours when a witness heard a loud boom and saw it fall. The wreckage was sent to a facility in Delaware for review. An investigation is being conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board to determine why the helicopter broke apart and crashed.
The 429 model of the Bell Helicopter has been involved in three accidents in New York in the last seven months and two fatal accidents in the United States in the past year. On Tuesday, April 26, 2022, the Federal Aviation Administration released an official document about an ongoing problem with the tail rotor of the 429 model of the Bell Helicopter. This document stated that the FAA has determined all pitch link bearing, a crucial connecting piece in the tail rotor, assemblies are affected by unsafe conditions. If not corrected, a worn pitch link could result in pitch link failure and loss of control of the helicopter. Starting May, 31, 2022, the FAA will require Bell 429 owners to replace pitch link bearings and continued inspection of their conditions. This is the seventh directive in the past six years regarding the Bell 429 Helicopter’s tail rotor.
Helicopters are very complex vehicles, and one defect can cause a serious crash. In this devastating accident, the family of the victim should have an investigative team evaluate all aspects surrounding the crash. This includes reviewing: :
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