The widow of country singer Troy Gentry has filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers of the helicopter her husband was in when it plunged to the ground in September, killing him and the pilot.
Angela Gentry, 52, filed the lawsuit Feb. 14 in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. She accuses Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, Sikorsky Global Helicopters, Inc. and Keystone Helicopter Corporation for making, selling and maintaining a helicopter that was “defective and unreasonably dangerous.”
Ms. Gentry, who resides in Tennessee, claims in the lawsuit that the defendants manufactured the helicopter without any crashworthiness and safety features that were built into similar models made for the military for years. This lack of crashworthiness left occupants of the helicopter with “virtually no chance to survive or be less injured.”
Ms. Gentry also alleges the defendants were aware of the helicopter’s defects but made no efforts to fix them.
Mr. Gentry, who formed half of the country duo Montgomery Gentry with singer Eddie Montgomery, was killed on Sept. 8, 2017, hours before a he was to perform in concert at the Flying W Airport and Resort in Medford, New Jersey. The helicopter crash also killed pilot James Robinson, 30. Mr. Gentry took the “spur-of-the-moment” flight for fun.
The crash helicopter was made in 2000 by Schweitzer Helicopter Corp. as the Model 300CB 19. Schweitzer then sold the helicopter model to Sikorsky, which continued to manufacture it as the Model 269. Ms. Gentry says that Sikorsky and the other defendants had “sole airworthiness responsibility” for the aircraft and all of its components.
In its preliminary report on the helicopter crash, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the Mr. Robinson reported mechanical problems minutes after takeoff. He attempted to perform a routine autorotation to land the aircraft, but the maneuver, which he had successfully performed previously, wouldn’t work.
“Because of defects in the engine, throttle cable attachment and collective control, the helicopter did not enter autorotation as expected, it did not disengage smartly from the transmission so the engine the rotors slowed to a speed lower than would permit a safe autorotation, thus allowing the helicopter to drop like a stone to the ground below,” the lawsuit claims.
The suit alleges that the helicopter’s defects posed a set of circumstances without remedy.
“There was no procedure in the Pilot Operating Handbook … to deal with this emergency, and no recommendations to afford the pilot any way out of the predicament in which he found himself.”