Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. has agreed to settle wrongful death and negligence claims filed in connection with a January 2014 crash of a Navy helicopter that killed three crewmembers during a routine training exercise off the coast of Virginia Beach.
According to the Associated Press, the Connecticut-based helicopter manufacturer reached a “settlement in principle” with the widows of the three crewmembers and a survivor of the crash. Claims against General Electric, DuPont, and L-3 Communications Corp., also named as defendants for their alleged role in the crash, are still in litigation.
On Jan. 8, 2014, a Sikorsky MH-53E Sea Dragon was engaged in mine countermeasure training about 18 miles out to sea when thick smoke began to fill the cabin, overcoming the crew and causing the aircraft to crash into the ocean.
The lawsuit pins the crash on allegedly defective and unsafe Kapton wiring insulation made by DuPont. A Navy investigation determined that insulated wiring chafed against a fuel line, allowing sparks to escape the wiring and set fire to the aircraft.
The Associated Press notes that aviation experts believe the DuPont wire insulation has triggered other fires that have caused fatal aviation crashes in the past. The Navy determined after the crash that its remaining 28 Sea Dragon helicopters were at risk because of the Kapton wiring insulation.
However, the Navy has known about the wiring insulation problem since 1987 and has invested millions of dollars in replacing the Kapton wiring in its aircraft, the Associated Press reported, citing the Virginian-Pilot. The helicopter that crashed off Virginia Beach was scheduled to have its Kapton wiring replaced.
Source: Associated Press