Widow of Former Marine One Helicopter Pilot Wins 10-Year Battle With NTSB to 'Clear' Husband of 'Pilot Error' Finding in Fatal Off-Shore Oil Platform Crash

Deb Brown's Kreindler & Kreindler Attorney Says NTSB Reversals Are Rare

Jul 21, 2006, 01:00 ET from Kreindler & Kreindler LLP

    NEW YORK, July 21 /PRNewswire/ -- It has taken nearly 10 years for the
 widow of a former Marine One helicopter pilot who flew Presidents Reagan
 and Bush to convince federal authorities that her husband was not to blame
 for the crash of a commercial helicopter he was piloting into the Gulf of
 Mexico that killed him along with two passengers. Last week, the National
 Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reversed its original decision,
 exonerating pilot Nate Brown.
     The crash occurred on November 28, 1996, while the pilot attempted an
 emergency pinnacle landing on an oil platform helipad elevated 120 feet
 above the sea and located about 25 nautical miles off Galveston, Texas.
     Deb Brown never believed her husband Nate was at fault in the crash.
 "Nate was a top-notch pilot but there was nothing he could do to save his
 passengers or himself when the helicopter started coming apart on landing,"
 said Ms. Brown. In a just-released decision from the National
 Transportation Safety Board, accident investigators finally agreed.
     The petition to the agency that investigates all U.S. aircraft
 fatalities was filed on Ms. Brown's behalf by Andrew J. (Duke) Maloney III,
 a partner with New York-based Kreindler & Kreindler LLP, the nation's
 leading aviation law firm. In a rare reversal last week, the NTSB formally
 withdrew the finding of pilot error by Mr. Brown.
     In 1998 the Kreindler firm filed suit against Eurocopter, the French
 manufacturer of the AS-350 model known as the A-Star that crashed into the
 Gulf of Mexico on November 28, 1996, killing Nate Brown and his two
 passengers. The lawsuit, which cited two previous and two later accidents
 involving mechanical defects in this aircraft model, was eventually
 settled. What remained was the implication that Mr. Brown's piloting skills
 had contributed to the accident.
     "Very Common To Blame The Pilot," Aviation Attorney Says
     "It is very common to blame the pilot in aircraft accidents and
 sometimes it is warranted, but here, it was clearly unfair to Mr. Brown,
 given the emergency he faced from the mechanical defects that arose during
 flight," Mr. Maloney of the Kreindler firm stated. His petition that the
 NTSB reconsider its finding of pilot error included exhibits, expert
 testimony and forensic evidence from the accident to prove that the aft
 section of the helicopter's tail boom, including its tail rotor, was
 severed from aircraft during flight due to a fractured bearing that
 controlled the pitch of the tail rotor blades.
     "Without a tail rotor and vertical stabilizer, you cannot control the
 aircraft. No pilot can. It's that simple," said Mr. Maloney. Ms. Brown
 added, "I am satisfied and grateful that the NTSB reviewed the case not
 only because it cleared Nate, but I hope it also helps prevent other
 similar accidents."
     Two Subsequent Eurocopter Crashes Reported By NTSB
     The NTSB decision reports two subsequent Eurocopter crashes involving
 tail boom separations: on June 6, 1998, in Burbank, CA; and, on October 27,
 1999, in Westbury, NY.
     Ms. Brown and the Kreindler firm have been vocal advocates of a
 proposed requirement to include flight data and cockpit voice recorders,
 known as the "black box," in all commercial aircraft, including
 helicopters. "If they would have had a black box on this helicopter, it
 would not have saved my husband or his two passengers, but could have saved
 a significant amount of money and heartache in determining accurately the
 cause of this crash."
     Former Federal Prosecutor Commends NTSB's Courage in Reversing Itself
     Mr. Maloney said the NTSB's decision was courageous, and by admitting
 it was wrong, the Safety Board also "reiterates a commitment to ultimately
 getting it right."
     At Kreindler & Kreindler, Andrew Maloney works on high profile aviation
 litigation and is helping prosecute the civil suit against the September 11
 terrorists and their co-conspirators currently pending in the New York
 Federal Court. Mr. Maloney formerly served as a federal prosecutor in the
 Southern District of New York, conducting a variety of federal criminal
 investigations and prosecutions working with the FBI, DEA, ATF, Secret
 Service, Postal Inspectors, NYPD and United States Marshals among other
 investigative agencies.
     About Kreindler & Kreindler LLP
     Founded in 1950, Kreindler & Kreindler (http://www.kreindler.com) is
 nationally recognized as the nation's first and leading aviation law firm.
 With offices in New York and Los Angeles, the Kreindler firm has been the
 leading plaintiff counsel on hundreds of aviation lawsuits, including such
 high profile cases as the September 11 terrorist attacks, Pan Am Lockerbie
 Flight 103, Korean Airlines Flight 007, American Airlines Flight 587, and
 many cases of small private and commercial crashes. Among Kreindler's
 attorneys and staff are airplane and helicopter pilots, engineers and other
 technical experts. The firm also practices in other areas involving product
 liability, medical malpractice, general negligence, and personal injury as
 well as commercial torts.

SOURCE Kreindler & Kreindler LLP